NRL changes finals system: Bye, bye McIntyre

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The newly formed Australian Rugby League Commission has wasted little time in flexing its muscle. In a move that will please many, the Commission has announced a fundamental change to the format of the Finals Series and will implement the changes for the 2012 NRL Premiership.

On the day of the official season launch, the Commission has informed clubs that it has accepted a recommendation to move away from the McIntyre system, which had been a part of the Telstra Premiership since 1999.

Whereas the McIntyre system ‘seeded’ the eight finalists so that the top four played the bottom four, the 2012 system will see the top four teams and bottom four teams split into separate pools in the first week.

ARLC Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today: “As the competition has become closer and the impact of ‘home and away’ finals matches even more significant, the system has become a source of increasing debate.”

“The allocation of ‘home venues’ in the second week of the McIntyre system has been a particular concern. After going through a thorough process we are confident that this is the right time for this change.”

The recommendation to the Commission follows an extensive review process conducted by ARLC General Manager of Football Operations, Mr Nathan McGuirk.

“Over the past few months we have been conducting a review with clubs and with the recently formed Competition Committee,” Mr McGuirk said.

“An overwhelming majority of clubs have shifted their support away from the McIntyre system and to one where the top four teams play each other in week one.

“It offers greater protection for the top four teams and the possibility of even closer matches.

“Each of the top four teams needs only to win two finals matches to reach the Grand Final, while the bottom four ranked teams must win three.

“The Minor Premiers and Team 2 are each guaranteed two home games.”

Apart from the obvious good news of the NRL moving away from a finals system that very few liked or understood, the most impressive aspect of this decision is the willingness and ability of the new Commission to act.

There was no drawn out deliberating. No months of media speculation with little actual action. No posturing and preening from executives. No agenda driven speeches. No painful inertia.

Instead, a decision was made, and then implemented immediately.

It bodes well for the new Commission, and it sends a strong message to all involved in Rugby League: The Australian Rugby League Commission is here. The Australian Rugby League Commission is in control. And the Australian Rugby League Commission is willing to act.

Make no mistake, whilst this may seem like a small step, it’s actually a monumental leap forward for the NRL and the game.

Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.
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