How to save Test rugby league

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By Simon, Simon is a Roar Rookie

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    Kangaroo Darren Lockyer looks for a hole in the Trans - Tasman Rugby League Test (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    What do you think about the Test match this weekend? The talk is that nobody seems to be talking about the game at all. Instead we seem to be talking about what a fizzer it is destined to be.

    Simply put, neither game is drawing much interest at all, nor is the overall anticipation level above zero.

    The general consensus from fans has been that this representative weekend is really just a somewhat annoying interruption to what has been a pretty engaging first six rounds of the NRL competition.

    Channel Nine is intelligently starving fans of club football this weekend so that TV ratings for the year’s two weakest (read boring and meaningless) games will still do well. What else are we going to watch?

    I want to put in my two bobs’ worth opinion as a genuine armchair critic! But before you write me off as another hack ask yourself this question:

    When did you last get excited about international rugby league?

    For me personally it was back in the 90s. Yeah – the 90s!

    I like the ‘representative round’ concept, it’s great. It’s just that the two games on offer don’t really offer very much at all, I think I might go down the pub and have a few games of darts instead!

    If we really want to stick with the ‘representative round’ concept why don’t we use this to truly promote international footy.

    Surely we should be taking these international games to Asia.

    For example – a three-Test series between New Zealand and England might have both nations host a game each and play a third fixture somewhere in Asia – Japan? If rugby can can do it, surely so can league.

    I would love to see a format that embraces a best-of-three series where the winner gets to challenge the current world champions in a one-off final played each October.

    For instance, let’s assume that the Kangaroos win this year’s World Cup and New Zealand and England place second and third. Here is how it could work.

    In 2014 England play New Zealand in a three-Test series throughout the regular season that now has six ‘representative rounds’ (be patient, I will explain this further shortly).

    The winner of this series now goes on to challenge the Kangaroos in a one-off Test in October with the winner being deemed world champions for 2014.

    The other two teams fight it out in a three-Test series the following year for the right to challenge.

    Every four years we hold a World Cup that provides an opportunity for our other rugby league nations to force their way into our top three nations.

    In order to accommodate six standalone ‘representative rounds’ and ensure we don’t add to the workload of our games elite I suggest the following.

    – A 29-week season played From February to September including six standalone representative rounds – one per month of the regular season.
    – NRL All Stars vs Indigenous All Stars (one game) in February.
    – An international Test series (three games) during March, April and May.
    – State of Origin (three games) in June, July and August.
    – A total of 22 regular NRL rounds.
    – September finals as per usual
    – October – ‘World Champions’ final.

    Note: City/Country to be scrapped with the trade off being that NRL commits to and subsidises 12 club games and plays them in regional centres throughout Australia/NZ/Tonga/Samoa and Papua New Guinea per season.

    The new NRL structure – 22 rounds

    Under this format each NRL Team plays each other at least once/per season.

    The previous year’s grand finalists will receive three byes in the following season, and will be exempt from playing each other more than once with in the regular premiership rounds with the Premiers securing home ground advantage.

    Teams that finish third and fourth will receive two byes and will also be exempt from playing each other more than once within the regular premiership rounds.

    Teams that finish fifth and sixth will receive one bye and will also be exempt from playing each other more than once within the regular premiership rounds.

    Teams that finish seventh and eighth will receive one bye and will also be exempt from playing each other more than once within the regular premiership rounds.

    There is no question that this format could work and international rugby league would be the biggest beneficiary.

    I admit that there is no such thing as a perfect formula and under this structure a player could potentially play up to 34 games in total in a single calender year, which is a lot of matches.

    But to put this into perspective, Cameron Smith could play only a maximum of 32 games this year if this structure was in place which is exactly how many he could have played last year.

    Under this structure if Australia finish the year as World Champions and Storm win the grand final Cam Smith could only play a maximum of 29 games in 2014, excluding pre-season trials.

    It may be fairly extreme to suggest such massive changes to an NRL structure that is working so well, but let’s face it, we need a stronger international game and our top-tier players can only play so much footy.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • April 19th 2013 @ 6:58am
      oikee said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      The media are calling it a fizzer, i am looking forward to the games.
      We have 4 games this weekend, not sure if they are all being telecast.
      Test Match Friday, have ordered Pizza and beer stocks are good.
      Saturday i thought was a dud, but i now find out we have the Tonga samoa game televised, ripper.
      Not sure if the under 20 Origin game is being televised. Bonus if it is, happy days.
      Then Sunday from Coffs Harbour, i will be putting the feet up to see City Country boys beat the life outta each other.
      Com’um country. Whats not to like, where is the drama. ? On top of all that the intrust QLD cup has been a breath of fresh air as well on a sunday arvo.
      The media are dangerous to our code, like Cam Smith said, it is time our Administration took back control of our game and gave the media scraps or nothing.
      They should be made to pay for Brett seymour’s medical bills.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 7:27am
      Enrico said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      It’s a sellout and will rate well. I can guess which dirt rag publication was saying it will be a fizzer. Stopped reading this completely. agenda driven rubbish. sooner they put broom through that paper the better. suggest others follow my lead, do not read it, if you see a ridiculous title do not click on it. These guys are like some kind of parasite that leech of their host until they are dead.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 8:06am
        oikee said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        hehe. Yes, your last line is very dramatic and very true.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 19th 2013 @ 9:12am
        Damn Straight said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Enrico and Oikee are brothers fom a different mother. 🙂

    • April 19th 2013 @ 7:38am
      Ryno said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      The International series u talk of won’t work, SL & distance. Why would u play a world cup if u keep play ing a one off each year.

      Game 1 & 3 of Origin, stand alone w’end played Sun Night(game two on Wed N). With other games played over the w’ends like Origin ‘A game, Pacific Origin, NZ Origin, Legends game etc.

      Then play Internationals after series, Aus v Nzld, Polynesia or NZ Maoris v Aust Indigenous; Italy, USA, Lebanon, Russia could play, as well as Pacific Nations, Legends Game, U20’s etc

    • Roar Guru

      April 19th 2013 @ 7:46am
      The Spectator said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      So if the ozzies win the world cup for the next 4 years we only play one test a year , the winner of the 3 test format will continually be NZ v Engaland meeting australia for a one pff ??? Meanwhile back at the ranch!! why dont we use this weekend to promote in one off test’s, Anzac’s v United Kingdom. ?

      • April 19th 2013 @ 7:02pm
        angry bird said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

        The Spectator- I guarantee that with an annual 3 test series NZ and England will build stronger combinations and Australia with only 1 off tests to maintain combinations would really have their work cut out to consistently win that 1 off title defence. Admitted SOO gives the Kangaroo’s an advantage in the combo discussion, but nothing is stopping the kiwis or England from building their own rep schedule to counter this…

    • April 19th 2013 @ 8:00am
      Cheezel said | April 19th 2013 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      Fizzer? Well you have had your head in the sand for the last few years by the sound of it. The Kiwis are World Cup champs. They one the 2004 Tri-nations and the 2010 Four Nations. Not bad effort if you ask me.

      And lets look at the two one off test in 2012. It’s not the boring test you make it out to be.
      Oct 13th Australia 18 – New Zealand 10 (Trans-Tasman Test)
      Apr 20th New Zealand 12 – Australia 20 (Anzac Test)

      And What about the Samoa v Tonga game? If it is anything like the clash in the 2008 RLWC it will be one to see. Those boys are just as passionate about their country as NSW & QLD are about their States.

      I am actually looking forward to a break in the NRL and can’t wait to watch the matches over this weekend. If anything they could be making it like an international carnival and have other international teams join in the fun.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 9:08am
      Johnno said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      I am really clueless to all this talk about rep weekend being over the last time it’s done.

      -Wow 25,000 fans will turn up tonight a sell-out, it will rate quite well, generate interest in international rugby league.
      -A good crowd will be on hand to for Samoa VS Tonga

      -And all these doomsday’s want this weekend cancelled, . How negative, be patient and teams like samoa will develop.

      Last year in rugby union, USA VS Italy in Houston got 17,000, and it was a record crowd. Do we just give up on USA rugby, coz they only got 17,000. No you don’t.

      -Test matches like this promote the sport of rugby league to a wider audience .

      Keep the faith, I for one would be disappointed if this match was cancelled coz of a few negative fans, and and negative media.

      Last year at Eden Park they pulled 35,000.

      You don’t need a cord of 50,000, for a sports event to be considered a success. Get a grip

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