The Roar
The Roar


AFL, NRL Grand Finals: learning from each other's mistakes

Melbourne Storm - a successful example of expansion?
26th September, 2012
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Now that the sporting planets have properly aligned themselves and fans can enjoy an entire weekend of grand finals without having to leave the lounge, the inevitable comparisons are destined to arise between the AFL and NRL’s big day.

Whilst the two sporting bodies will claim to not be too concerned with what the other is wearing to the big dance, and adopt their best surly teenage ‘don’t even care’ attitude, come Monday morning each will be hoping to have put on the better show.

And by better, I mean the least ridiculed.

The truth is both days over the years have had a few awkward moments, and could benefit from learning from one anothers failures. You know, a batmobile here, a hovercraft there.

Just think, if Andrew Demetriou had taken a moment last year to ask David Gallop, “Can that angry, fat bloke still hold a tune?” the whole Meatloaf debacle could have been avoided. Like actual meatloaf.

Hence, here are some things that the NRL Grand Final could learn from the AFL decider. And vice versa.

Lessons for the NRL
As bagging out the NRL grand final has rocketed from Roy and HG niche to national past time thanks largely to Billy Idol, this is probably a good place to start.

The acknowledgement of traditions is something the AFL Grand Final does well. Some of these are fairly major things, like say, playing the game at the same time every year so fans actually know what time it starts. Others are the little touches that the fans love.

Let’s take for example the sprint at half time. Or the song ‘Up there Cazaly’. If you heard this song anywhere outside of a football oval in September you would probably walk in front of a bus out of sheer embarrassment, yet for some reason it hits the spot. It is the eggnog of sports anthems.


And guess what? Rugby league has a little ditty of its own, ‘Simply the Best’. When was the last time it got a run though eh? I’m not saying they need to get the Queen of Bartertown out to sing it, but every rugby league fan loves that song. So why not roll it out?

While they’re at it fan favourites like painted in-goals, a decent grand final patch on the jersey and introducing the players one by one onto the field would be appreciated.

On top of this the weekly build up to the AFL bounce seems to flow in a more natural progression, rather than the strange mish-mash of breakfasts, montages, musical acts, montages, crowd competitions, montages and news bulletins in the lead up to the NRL’s kick off.

Lessons for AFL
While the NRL Grand Final at times seems to suffer from a lack of attention to detail, the AFL decider is treated with all the reverence of a business meeting with Abraham Lincoln’s Dad’s boss.

This is all well and good when some serious analysis is going down or the old blokes are going around in utes, but when you’re watching some pimply kid deliver the premiership cup by trapeze or the commentators read out tweets from viewers at home it appears a trifle overwrought.

And speaking of commentators how many of them are there? I know tickets are hard to come by but letting sixteen different blokes chuck their two cents in makes it like the dinner table on Christmas day with the Melbourne Cup being called over the top.

The only thing there’s more of than commentators is songs. I realise I’ve just given Cazaly a wrap, he’s cool, as is the anthem. Team songs? Perfectly fine too. PROVIDED pre-match they are only sung by some bloke in a baritone voice over the ground PA, once, and not being murdered by a couple of blokes in skinny jeans from some half-arsed talent show.

Yes, unnecessary bloating is the AFLs biggest issue, and some of the NRL’s streamlining would be beneficial. Take the team photo before the players get on the field, give them a ring instead of a medal to speed things up post match and don’t let the Lionel Ritchie’s of the world sneak in an entire album set before the start.


So while they are in essence competitors for athletes and our fan finances, I think by working more closely on the above issues a greater level of respect may be fostered between the two codes.

Well, at least until the TV ratings are announced anyway.

Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious