Boring NRL pre-season needs spicing up

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    As the meaningless NRL pre-season rolls on, many of us wonder what can be done for excitement. The answer would be some kind of pre-season competition.

    Given that teams only want to play two trial matches, it’s hard to have a real knockout comp. So instead of one comp, let’s have four. Two weeks of trials is more than enough (although some teams do play three).

    Divide the teams into four separate comps. Then with each group of four teams have a two-week knockout comp.

    Offer some prize-money to the winner and runner-up. If teams want to play more trials they could play before this. One thing I like about the current setup is the amount trials in country areas and places without teams. Hobart pulled over 11,000 spectators on the weekend.

    You could group the teams into geographic regions to get a bit of rivalry going.

    The Western Sydney Cup would involve Wests Tigers, Canterbury, Penrith and Parramatta. The Beaches Cup would be Manly, Sydney, Cronulla and Newcastle. Even if Cronulla moves to the Central Coast it still works.

    The Southern Cup could be Melbourne, Canberra, Illawarra, and Souths. The Queensland Cup would be Brisbane, Gold Coast, North Queensland and New Zealand.

    Maybe you could seed the first round by the teams’ ladder position the previous year, though for the Southern Cup you would always have Souths versus Dragons in the first round, which could also double as the annual Charity Shield match.

    Since last year’s premiers have to play the World Club Challenge, you can leave them out and have their comp as a three-team cup, with teams two and three playing the semi-final to meet seed one in the final, and adjust the prize money accordingly.

    The teams that lose in the first week can just play normal trial matches in the second week (like what happens to the eliminated teams in the AFL’s NAB Cup).

    The prize money can come out of the funding the NRL gives the clubs – and split the prize money between the players and the club. As an example, give $100,000 to the winner of each of the four cups and $50,000 to the runners-up. I’m sure clubs that are in financial difficulties would definitely want to play hard to win their cup.

    It would be an easy way to try to get some meaning (and thus more crowds, viewers and excitement) into our meaningless pre-season, without having a pre-season cup that goes on for four weeks and bores everybody.

    Basically, you would have the same number of trial games as normal. Teams that like to play three trial matches can play their extra match on the All Stars weekend as normal trials.

    This system of having four small pre-season cups is easy to implement and if it doesn’t work they can get rid of it after a couple of season with no damage done. The only real cost is having some trophies made up (since the prize money could come out of normal NRL club funding).

    Using last year’s ladder position as seeding, here are the matches for the four cups (seedings in brackets)”

    Western Sydney Cup

    Rd. 1/Semis: (1) Wests v. (4) Parra, (2) Bulldogs v. (3) Penrith.

    Beaches Cup (Manly absent for World Club Championship)

    Rd.1/Semis: (2) Roosters v. (3) Cronulla, winner plays (1) Newcastle (should play final in Gosford).

    Southern Cup

    Rd.1/Semis: (1) Melbourne v. (4) Canberra, (2) Dragons v. (3) Souths.

    Queensland Cup

    Rd.1/Semis: (1) Brisbane v. (4) Gold Coast, (2) New Zealand v. (3) Nth Queensland.

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • February 21st 2012 @ 5:17am
      AndyMack said | February 21st 2012 @ 5:17am | ! Report

      Not happy with you having Cronulla lose the Beaches Cup.

      And I beleive the clubs like having a few trials with no real meaning to them. Would think the AFL clubs would love to follow suit on this one, and ditch the NAB cup. Might give a few fans something to look forward to (although that is debatable) but overall, think most people accept it is preseason, its about giving a few guys a chance, try some new things but basically heading towards round 1 when it all counts.

      Go Sharkies!!!!!

    • February 21st 2012 @ 5:30am
      Pedro said | February 21st 2012 @ 5:30am | ! Report

      The regular NRL season is long enough without putting pressure on clubs to try win some two bit title pre season.Trails should be exactly that, a chance to blood some new talent and see how they perform, a chance to try players in different positions, a chance to run some of those new additions to the playbook.

    • February 21st 2012 @ 8:39am
      sheek said | February 21st 2012 @ 8:39am | ! Report

      I Like the AFL concept. The first half of the pre-season involves half-matches against two other opponents, followed by two full rounds of matches. But the pre-season is NOT for the benefit of the fans, but for the clubs.

      The pre-season is a “shakedown” – to introduce new players (& coaches) into the team, work out combinations, tactics, etc. If your life is too boring to wait for the season opener – look within yourself…..!!!

      • February 21st 2012 @ 10:10pm
        KSI said | February 21st 2012 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

        You could never have 3 teams playing 1/2 games. A fresh team in league would cause all sorts of injury to a team that’s already played 40.

    • February 21st 2012 @ 8:48am
      Rabby said | February 21st 2012 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      This is a pretty silly suggestion. Pre season trials are about preparing teams and players, they are a part of training. They are not a game. If you had a Pre Season Comp as you suggest then all you would get is pre Pre Season Comp trials before hand.

    • February 21st 2012 @ 8:56am
      Paul said | February 21st 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Heres a suggestion, Just televise the trial matches, all the fans would love to have a look at thier teams build up to the comp.

      • February 21st 2012 @ 9:38am
        oikee said | February 21st 2012 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        This is to simple, they want to complicate things. No really, good idea Paul. And they could expand the club challendge so we might see games over 3 week-ends.
        I honestly think that we do have good ideas, the all-stars is good, charity shield is good, we could have had a few more shown on TV, the game in Hobart would have been nice.
        The problem with league is we have no one with any brains to think of what might work. Yanks would be all over this sort of stuff. They would probably turn the pre-season into a big party atmosphere.
        Look, i think if we start taking the game in pre-season to new areas, televise the games, we all love seeing new places on tv and getting some feedback.
        Anyhow, i see the clubs are still going to be running the game, so dont expect anything new, the dinosaurs still have control.

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2012 @ 1:49pm
          The Barry said | February 21st 2012 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          Is that the first mention of the dinosaurs for 2012 ?!?!? Now I know NRL season is upon us…!

      • February 21st 2012 @ 8:04pm
        Football United said | February 21st 2012 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

        idk if it would go ahead with traditional tv coverage. i don’t however see why the clubs themselves can’t just stream it over the internet for supporters to watch.

    • February 21st 2012 @ 8:56am
      Ken said | February 21st 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      ‘…and if it doesn’t work they can get rid of it after a couple of season with no damage done’

      Which would leave us exactly where we are at the moment having stopped pre-season comps because they didn’t work. Don’t get me wrong I’m as keen as anyone for the footy season to start properly but these pre-season comps aren’t much more meaningful than the trial games they are replacing. I guess it could generate a little more revenue but would anyone really care if there club won it? I mean Cronulla get actively bagged that their only silverware is an AMCO cup!

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