AFL and NRL draws need any bias sniffed out

Maximus Roar Rookie

By Maximus, Maximus is a Roar Rookie

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    Do the football codes engineer their draw to favour certain teams? There has been a suspicion in recent years that some codes have favoured teams that are facing greater challenges than others because administrators are attempting to sell their product (especially for TV).

    And this sell is maximised when there is an even competition with close games.

    Let us review the 2011 season, and the place where ‘the battle of the codes’ is at its most intense – the Gold Coast. By the way, both NRL and AFL draws were compiled after their respective grand finals.

    The Gold Coast Suns AFL team received a few benefits. An advantage in the AFL (where, unlike the NRL, minimum six-day breaks are compulsory between games) would be to play teams after they have played in a blockbuster. This might be the week after Carlton versus Collingwood, or where the Adelaide or Perth have had a local derby.

    The Suns played at Port Adelaide the week after the first South Australia showdown and won their first game. They also played Essendon after their ANZAC day blockbuster with Collingwood on a six-day break. Essendon were at home and still won easily.

    They played a Richmond home game in neutral Cairns to win their second game. They also played Collingwood the week after Carlton versus Collingwood. The teams to play Adelaide or Perth teams after their home town derbies were the Suns, Carlton, Collingwood and Brisbane (against Adelaide teams), and Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, and Hawthorn (against Perth teams), which is an even spread.

    How about the incumbent Gold Coast Titans? In Round 1, the Titans (at home) played the Saints just eight days after the Saints had flown back from the UK for the World Club Challenge, and the Saints didn’t even get the home game. In Round 2, the Titans played the Storm. Two days beforehand, the NRL released details of enquiry into four player agents who will be deregistered after their dealings with Storm players in the salary cap debacle.\

    In Round 3, the Titans played a home game against the Broncos – the biggest drawing team at home – before the Suns first match in the AFL, which was a fair enough business strategy when a competitor coming in to your territory.

    In Round 4 the Titans were at Canberra – two cold climate away games and long trips (Storm and Raiders) came early in the season, rather than in the middle of winter, so an advantage to the Titans I would suggest.

    In Round 5 the Titans played the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night TV game, in which the Cowboys were backing up for their third game in 12 days. The Broncos v Knights would be a more appealing Queensland Friday night game for ratings. In Round 6 the Titans were at home versus Wests, and earlier that week the Titans announced the Idris signing.

    Round 7, Titans v Parramatta, Hayne gets two weeks before this game for headbutting. His earlier one on Slater, for which he was exonerated, was worse, but maybe he had run out of credits by that stage. In Round 8, the Titans were at home versus the Roosters, who played the blockbuster ANZAC Day clash with the Saints the previous Monday, but still have to play away on a short turnaround.

    Compare that with the AFL’s Essendon versus Collingwood match on the ANZAC Day Monday, where both played at home the following Sunday. In 2006 the Storm played at home against the premiership favourites St George on Saturday night, after the Saints had played the ANZAC Day Tuesday match.

    In Round 9, the Australia v New Zealand rugby league Test on Friday night was scheduled for Christchurch (which was subsequently moved to the Gold Coast after the Christchurch earthquakes. The Warriors were scheduled to play a home game on the Sunday against – you guessed it – the Titans.

    The Warriors would have had a number of Kiwis backing up who would have had to fly on the Saturday from Christchurch to Auckland. The Gold Coast would have had few Test players if any.

    But the best until last – there were only four games that weekend, yet the Warriors didn’t even get the bye that eight other teams had, despite the large number of their players who played the Test match. Perhaps the trade-off was the Warriors playing a Cronulla home game in Taupo, New Zealand, later in the year.

    In Round 10 the Titans were at home versus Manly on Monday night, a team that had a few players in the rep games. This meant three games in nine days, one of only eight teams whose rep players carried that burden. And so it went, but alas, by this point, the Gold Coast was running last on the table.

    In Round 14 the Titans played at St George on Friday night the week before Origin Two, so the Dragons were missing all their stars (the Knights played the Dragons before Origin 3). Interestingly Darius Boyd signing with the Knights was announced the day before the Saints played the Titans, which is curious.

    Food for thought, in how the respective administrators may optimise opportunities that the draw presents to maximise the evenness of their competitions and assist the struggling teams. Hopefully when the season is complete and the NRL draw is finalised, we can do an analysis of the benefits of the respective draws to GWS and the four Sydney NRL teams from the west.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • January 7th 2012 @ 9:01am
      Stu said | January 7th 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Manly only left NSW once after May last year. That’s only one overnight trip. Players are fresh ready to perform. The Broncos play the Warriors and Manly (last years grand finalits) in the space of a few weeks around origin time. Warriors and Manly don’t commit players to Origin.

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      • January 7th 2012 @ 10:37am
        Maximus said | January 7th 2012 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        No-one could have predicted that Manly and Warriors would have been in the GF last year and the broncos are always disadvantaged around SOO time. That is an interesting point about Manly – there are 6 non NSW teams in the comp so they should have played maybe at least 4 games a year away with an overnight stay. I’m not sure why the NRL would favour Manly – certainly after the brett Stewart incident they were not having this view.

    • January 7th 2012 @ 9:23am
      oikee said | January 7th 2012 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Max, please when you call Illawarra St George Dragons, either use the full name or call them Saint George or Dragons. Nobody in rugby league call’s Saint George the Saints. Thanks dude.
      Yes the draws are rigged, if they were not rigged you would not have your Anzac day blockbusters, your rivalry rounds and so on,.

      And yes, it revolves around TV, they pay the bills.

      • January 7th 2012 @ 10:30am
        Maximus said | January 7th 2012 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Funny I have been to “Dragons” games when the chants “Saints” has gone up. If it revolves around TV why does the GC get the favoured treatment at the expense of other teams. Your definition of “rigged” is contentious – having Easts or Collingwood play in an Anzac Day blockbuster is hardly rigging the draw. This is about concocting the draw to favour one team throughout the year. What happened to equity and transparency?

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2012 @ 10:37am
      The Cattery said | January 7th 2012 @ 10:37am | ! Report

      Maximus

      It didn’t do either of the titans or suns much good!

      I think people fret about the draw a bit too much.

      At the end of the season, the cream rises to the top.

      • January 7th 2012 @ 10:38am
        Maximus said | January 7th 2012 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Yes look at the 2006 draw for the Storm who made the Grand Final!!!

    • January 7th 2012 @ 3:50pm
      Jack Russell said | January 7th 2012 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

      Yeah, draws are probably less important when you decide the winner through a finals series.

      Not that leagues shouldn’t strive towards completely fair draws, but come finals time if you’ve got there on a soft draw you’re going to get exposed if you’re no good.

    • January 7th 2012 @ 9:20pm
      gurudoright said | January 7th 2012 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

      I suppose the same could be said about the concessions given to the Suns and Giants. Maybe you should do an article about the concessions the AFL and NRL give to their new franchises

      • January 9th 2012 @ 12:15pm
        Jaceman said | January 9th 2012 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        The NRL new franchises can but players off contract whereas the AFL nebies cant consequently they need assistance in the draft.The best world record new franchise concession was the melbourne Storm who took the remnants of Mariners, Rams and reds plus News Ltd Broncos gave them Prop Lazarus so that in their second year they won the title. They may have also received salary cap “assistance”.

        • January 9th 2012 @ 12:37pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | January 9th 2012 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

          Jaceman,

          Technically, the AFL clubs can do the same, however the good AFL clubs made sure their good players werent off contract.

          South Sydney had a similar problem when they re-entered the league.

          • January 9th 2012 @ 4:30pm
            Jaceman said | January 9th 2012 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

            IW

            True – my wording was loose – if they started up an AFL team in cairns without draft assistance, the new club couldnt offer any draft picks to a club for a player out of contract. The NRL new club doesnt have to offer anything to a player coming off contract at another club although Scott prince went to the Titans for a Kings ransom plus. Guru was trying to distract from the thread of the post which is that the AFL and the NRL especially have helped the new clubs in the GC area.

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