The ridiculously unfair 2018 NRL draw needs to be redone

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

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    If the NRL was hoping to dispel fan sentiment that some clubs seem to get all the lucky breaks, they won’t be doing it with the 2018 draw.

    I was initially okay with the 2018 draw, as on first inspection I found it to be friendly to the side I support.

    However, on detailed examination, it shows a number of sides – the Storm, Broncos and especially the Roosters – have received extremely favourable draws. Conversely, a number of sides have been screwed.

    There was a lot of fanfare at the beginning of October when the complete home-and-away draw for next season was released, as it was the first draw for quite a while over which the competition had total control.

    For the last however long, the broadcasters had control and as I’ve examined before, it led to some very poor scheduling.

    NRL CEO Todd Greenberg hit Twitter to discuss the 2018 draw with fans and was asked, “What’s the hardest part? Balancing clubs, TV, fairness or fan expectations?” His response was pretty straight up.

    As he suggests, there are many factors that must be taken into account, and the schedule can never be completely even – it isn’t possible – so some cold realities have to be accepted.

    Free-to-air games
    Given broadcasters pay a great deal for NRL rights, there needs to be consideration for putting on games that draw the biggest ratings and generate advertising revenue.

    The Broncos, Eels, Bulldogs and Rabbitohs rate well. They are going to get a lot of free-to-air games.

    However, free-to-air exposure has a great bearing on a side’s marketability, which translates directly into the amount of sponsorship a side can get. The more sponsorship – including the all-important third-party deals – the more chance a club has of being successful.

    If teams receive too large a share of the free-to-air games to please the broadcasters they can become entrenched as successful, while those who get little or no coverage conversely become pigeonholed as unsuccessful.

    This aspect has commonly been seen as the main barometer of draw fairness, which is why Greenberg highlighted that aspect. However, it’s just one of three main components.

    NRL CEO Todd Greenberg

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    Repeat opponents
    There are only 24 games per side in the home-and-away season. To play all sides twice there would have to be 30. That would lengthen the season by a month and a half, which – along with State of Origin and internationals – would make the season too long and the demands on players far too high.

    This means each team only plays six opposition sides once, which can have a large bearing on a team’s chances.

    Location and travel
    Nine of the 16 clubs are in Sydney. This, by definition, means that they will not have to travel as much or as far as the Storm, Titans, Knights, Raiders, Broncos and especially the Cowboys and Warriors.

    While the draw can allow for this, it can’t make it level. However, the more travel a side has to endure, the less likely they are to win – especially if they are coming up against well-rested, stay-at-home sides.

    The NRL must create a draw that limits this type of inequity using the five-day turnaround.

    The geographical realities also have impacts on free-to-air game allocation. As the Cowboys and the Warriors travel the largest distances most frequently, in order to stop them having short turnarounds between games, it makes sense to have their games consistently on the same days.

    Saturday has no free-to-air games but is the most logical day to schedule these sides, so as to avoid short turnarounds.

    The NRL has the challenge of balancing all of these aspects to create a draw which sees no sides receive too much benefit, nor any get a completely raw deal.

    They failed. Let’s look at why.

    The spread of free-to-air games in 2018
    Greenberg was quick to sing the praises of the 2018 draw upon its release:

    Upon first inspection, it seems an achievement worth crowing about in comparison to 2017. However, when compared to 2016, the draw isn’t that fantastic in the free-to-air respect.

    In 2016, an average distribution of the free-to-air games equated to nine games a team – 37.5 per cent of each team’s home-and-away games.

    Nine teams achieved or bettered that mark, while the Broncos doubled it. Of the Sydney clubs, only the Sea Eagles (eight) and the Sharks (four) had less than average free-to-air games.

    In 2018, the only Sydney-based side that has less than ten free-to-air games is the Sea Eagles, with seven. Once more it is non-Sydney sides that get royally screwed.

    The Raiders get just five free-to-air games – which is half what an even share would be – the Titans get only three, and the Knights and Warriors get just two.

    That’s a pathetic effort. While the Warriors’ seven 6pm Friday night slots translate into 8pm primetime across the ditch, you couldn’t blame the Knights and their fans if they thought that the NRL could not give a damn about them. The club that has won three consecutive wooden spoons and really could use a leg up is getting just two free-to-air games.

    While the Raiders and Titans get an ordinary hand in regard to free-to-air games, the Novocastrians get a far worse one.

    The free-to-air winners and losers

    Result Games
    Massive winners Broncos* – 16
    Big winners Bulldogs – 13, Eels -13, Dragons – 13, Wests Tigers – 13
    Winners Roosters – 12, Storm – 11, Cowboys – 11, Panthers – 11
    Even Sharks – 10, Rabbitohs – 10
    Losers Sea Eagles – 7
    Big losers Raiders – 5
    Massive losers Titans – 3, Warriors* – 2, Knights – 2
    • Eight of the Broncos’ free-to-air games are on Thursday. The Brisbane crowd – especially those with young children – don’t like this time slot, which is really for the benefit of broadcasters.
    • The Warriors’ seven 6pm (AEST) Friday and four 2pm (AEST) Sunday games are in New Zealand primetime.

    Repeat opponents – How the draw works out for each side
    There is some simple maths applying to the draw.

    Unless you were in the top four, the most games you can be drawn to play against the previous season’s top four sides is eight. If you were in the top four, it is six.

    The fewest games you can play against the previous year’s top four is three.

    Unless you were in the top eight, the most games you can be drawn to play against the previous season’s top eight is 16. If you were in the top eight, it’s 14.

    The fewest games you can play against the previous year’s top eight is seven.

    The same goes for both the bottom eight and bottom four.

    With those concepts in mind, have a look at how the 2018 draw works out:

    vs bottom four vs bottom eight vs top four vs top eight result
    Roosters 8 15 4 9 Massive winners
    Storm 8 13 4 11 Massive winners
    Eels 6 14 3 10 Big winners
    Raiders 7 12 4 12 winners
    Panthers 7 13 5 11 winners
    Dragons 7 12 7 12 Even
    Sea Eagles 7 12 8 12 Even
    Broncos 6 12 5 12 Even
    Sharks 5 12 6 12 Even
    Cowboys 5 12 7 12 Even
    Rabbitohs 5 12 7 12 Even
    Bulldogs 5 11 7 13 Even
    Titans 5 10 7 14 Losers
    Knights 5 10 7 14 Losers
    Wests Tigers 4 12 7 12 Big losers
    Warriors 4 11 7 13 Big losers

    On inspection of this table, one could be forgiven for thinking Trent Robinson and Nick Politis created this draw themselves.

    They didn’t, of course. But the Roosters play the 2017 bottom four sides the maximum amount possible, and the 2017 bottom eight sides just one less than the maximum.

    Further, they play 2017 top four sides just one more time than the fewest possible, and 2017 top eight sides just two more times than the fewest possible. That sort of blatant imbalance should have stood out to the NRL before they released the draw.

    The Storm isn’t doing much worse, and the Eels should be pretty happy with their lot.

    Now look at what the Titans and Knights got and you’ll notice it’s almost the reverse.

    If the share of free-to-air games were unfair, then this is diabolical. How this was allowed to pass muster is anyone’s guess.

    Five-day turnarounds
    Sides having to back up and play again after just five days find it tough to win. If there is significant travel involved during those five days, then the side rarely ever wins.

    In 2018 there will be 16 occasions where sides endure five-day turnarounds without significant travel. There will be seven incidents where sides must endure it with significant travel.

    Five-day turnaround with significant travel Five-day turnaround without significant travel Result
    Wests Tigers 2 1 Massive losers
    Dragons 1 2 Big losers
    Bulldogs 1 2 Big losers
    Warriors 1 1 Big losers
    Eels 1 0 Losers
    Cowboys 1 0 Losers
    Storm 0 2 Losers
    Raiders 0 2 Losers
    Rabbitohs 0 2 Losers
    Panthers 0 1 Even
    Sea Eagles 0 1 Even
    Broncos 0 1 Even
    Sharks 0 1 Even
    Roosters 0 0 Big winners
    Titans 0 0 Big winners
    Knights 0 0 Big winners
    Total 7 16

    *Significant travel is any significant transit, i.e. not Sydney to Canberra, Sydney to Newcastle, Sydney to Wollongong or Sydney to the Central Coast.

    The Wests Tigers get the rough end of this pineapple, while the Dragons and Bulldogs wouldn’t be impressed either.

    However, there is finally a win for the Titans and Knights. Neither side has to endure a single five-day turnaround of either variety.

    Another team that will not suffer a single five-day turnaround is the Roosters. Once more, the Bondi Boys are on the good side of the 2018 draw.

    Latrell Mitchell Sydney Roosters NRL Rugby League Finals 2017

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    But wait, there’s more…

    Teams receiving sides on five-day turnarounds
    If it’s difficult for a team to win when they are enduring a five-day turnaround, then it follows that the side they play on those occasions is likely to get up.

    So which sides in 2018 will play the teams on five-day turnarounds?

    Playing teams with significant travel Playing teams with no significant travel Result
    Storm 2 0 Big winners
    Cowboys 2 0 Big winners
    Roosters 2 0 Big winners
    Rabbitohs 1 2 Big winners
    Broncos 1 2 Big winners
    Warriors 1 0 Winners
    Sea Eagles 0 3 Winners
    Bulldogs 0 2 Winners
    Panthers 0 2 Winners
    Knights 0 1 Even
    Wests Tigers 0 1 Even
    Eels 0 1 Even
    Titans 0 1 Even
    Raiders 0 0 Losers
    Dragons 0 0 Losers
    Sharks 0 0 Losers

    The Raiders, Dragons and Sharks play no sides on five-day turnarounds. Further, the Knights, Titans, Eels and Tigers get only the slightest taste of this kind of advantage.

    Manly play three teams on five-day turnarounds in 2018, but none of them will have had to endure significant travel. Adding significant travel is what makes the five-day turnaround particularly difficult.

    In 2018 three sides will have the large benefit of playing two sides each that are on five-day breaks that include significant travel: the Cowboys, Broncos and – yes, you guessed it – the Roosters.

    Overall winners and losers
    Let’s look at the overall picture, by placing all of these factors together and scoring the results for each as follows:

    • Massive winner = +3
    • Big winner = +2
    • Winner = +1
    • Even = 0
    • Loser = -1
    • Big loser = -2
    • Massive loser = -3
    FTA allocation Repeat opponents Five-day turnarounds Playing against five-day turnarounds Total
    Roosters 1 3 2 2 8
    Broncos 3 0 0 2 5
    Storm 1 3 -1 2 5
    Eels 2 2 -1 0 3
    Panthers 1 1 0 1 3
    Cowboys 1 0 -1 2 2
    Rabbitohs 0 0 -1 2 1
    Bulldogs 2 0 -2 1 1
    Sea Eagles -1 0 0 1 0
    Sharks 0 0 0 -1 -1
    Dragons 2 0 -2 -1 -1
    Knights -3 -1 2 0 -2
    Titans -3 -1 2 0 -2
    Wests Tigers 2 -2 -2 0 -2
    Raiders -2 1 -1 -1 -3
    Warriors -3* -2 -2 1 -6

    With the scales I’ve used, the maximum possible score a side could get is ten.

    The wash-up: It’s a bad draw
    The football supporting public expects – demands – that if a side has a distinct disadvantage or advantage in one area of the draw then the NRL will even that up in another area. Ideally – using the above metric – no side should be outside a range of plus or minus one.

    Presently, only five of the sixteen sides sit within that range, while the Roosters have received an armchair ride into the 2018 top four via this draw.

    That one side can be allowed to gain such an advantage by the draw, while others are disadvantaged, is unlikely to go down well with the league-loving public.

    How this draw could get the NRL’s stamp of approval and be released is beyond me.

    There are just under four months until the 2018 season is set to kick off. The NRL must go back to the drawing board immediately to create a draw that is much fairer than this very poor effort.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (274)

    • November 20th 2017 @ 6:21am
      Not so super said | November 20th 2017 @ 6:21am | ! Report

      Great analysis Tim
      Playing sides in quick repetition is what really gets my goat
      Parramatta play sharks, wests, Penrith and manly twice in the first 9 rounds!

      • November 20th 2017 @ 12:21pm
        Glenn said | November 20th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        Yes this is a blight on the draw and Parra probably aren’t the only team having to do this. It is a massive turnoff for the fans. Why can’t your team play the other 15 teams once in the first 15 rounds and then a draw from the hat or play traditional rivals for the other 9 games? That would be fair for every team wouldn’t it?

        Just on the Roosters Tim, did you do a similar analysis of their draw this year? If I remember rightly they never played outside of Sydney for the last 8 or so rounds. Wonder what’ll happen next year for them. If they had a beneficial draw this year maybe there is a slight fishy smell coming from HQ.

        • November 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm
          Felix said | November 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          The NRL has to balance club wishes, be a bulwark against AFL and RU incursions into northern states and appease the FTA and Pay TV rights holders. Tough but each year certain clubs get a legup ( normally the clubs that play the broncos and Storm during SOO). They apparently hire an external expert with a program but still clubs play a certain club twice in a few weeks…

          Tim the analysis is good but in my mind would be better if that SOO stat was included plus any club playing Canberra at night in June July or August or any club playing in Townsville in March/April.

      • November 20th 2017 @ 5:37pm
        mushi said | November 20th 2017 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

        Yep “great analysis”

        Who would have thought that a league makes free to air decisions not based on Tim Gore’s well worn personal bug bears!

        Next thing you know Tim will actually post a statistically defensible piece.

        • Columnist

          November 21st 2017 @ 10:08am
          Tim Gore said | November 21st 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          Mushi, do you have actual counterpoints to raise or are you just going to go with #fakenews?
          Not just mine. Not just FTA. there are two other aspects raised.
          Full disclosure please: the side you support?

      • November 21st 2017 @ 3:51pm
        Peter Phelps said | November 21st 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

        Great analysis Tim however if you think you can come up with a better fairer draw then I suggest you do so. I am pretty certain that the NRL would pay a handsome fee if you could do this for them every year. Win:Win situation there.

        • Columnist

          November 21st 2017 @ 4:38pm
          Tim Gore said | November 21st 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

          Absolutely! Get me the invite and I’ll be right there.
          I did plenty of draws during my seven years administrating Canberra’s biggest junior soccer club and I’ve certainly spent more than a little time analyzing draws in the last four seasons.
          I’m all in. I’m sure I can deliver a fairer draw that still delivers for the broadcasters.

    • November 20th 2017 @ 6:49am
      Greg Ambrose said | November 20th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      I’ll just have to cling onto the late season assertion from 2017 that their forwards aren’t up to speed.

      If Napa can further his reputation as an Origin specialist just like Nate Myles and Bob Lidner then the other teams could be in with a shot. If JWH is on the way out as many are saying then that is another ray of hope for rival fans.

    • November 20th 2017 @ 6:50am
      Duncan Smith said | November 20th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      Very detailed analysis, which the NRL should study closely but probably won’t.

      You should also factor in rep football – e.g. the team that plays Melbourne just before or after origin games when Smith, Slater, Munster, Chambers probably won’t be playing.

      • November 20th 2017 @ 7:25am
        Greg Ambrose said | November 20th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        Another key factor which can have a dramatic effect on teams and is just part of the fabric of sport is how often you play a team who is on a winning run. It always amuses me when you get to the last month or more and it is assumed that a team in the top eight is a hot favorite against a team not. Teams like the Dogs, Newcastle and the Wests Tigers had the potential to beat almost anyone towards the end of the season and often they did. Manly played the Saints when they were at their best and got floggged twice yet when the Saints couldn’t win a game Manly didn’t cross their path. Works both ways of course.

    • November 20th 2017 @ 7:37am
      Boz said | November 20th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      Until each team plays each other once only, and the competition is suspended during Origin, it will never be fair.

      • Roar Guru

        November 20th 2017 @ 8:06am
        Cadfael said | November 20th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        An option would be to create two 10 team conferences which would allow full home and away for both conferences. Top 4 in each conference to combine for a finals top 8.

        • November 20th 2017 @ 8:32am
          Duncan Smith said | November 20th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

          Cadfael. A better option. Two 8 team conferences. Home and away within each (14 rounds), then play the other conference teams once (8 games). 22 rounds then finals.

    • November 20th 2017 @ 8:29am
      KingCowboy said | November 20th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      I really don’t care who we play, where we and when we play. If we are good enough, we will win. At the end of the day, as long as the boys give 100%, that is all I care about. Refs, Draws etc are just white noise. Losers are always the ones making excuses!

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2017 @ 8:52am
        Tim Gore said | November 20th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Wow KC…
        We have established through detailed examination that sides rarely ever win games when enduring a five day turn around with significant Travel. We know that.
        It means that the team is not good enough due to a circumstance caused by scheduling, not ability.
        Are you rejecting the cold hard facts about 5 day turn arounds?
        Would you be happy for the cowboys to be loaded up with them? Even Winx can be beaten by adding enough lead to the saddle bags.

        • November 20th 2017 @ 9:05am
          KingCowboy said | November 20th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          Mr Gore but where does the excuses begin and end? When coach Green took over this team, we hardly ever won in Sydney. Then in 2015 we won in Sydney and last year we won three games in Sydney in a row to make the GF. When Coach Green took over the Cows, we hardly ever won with out JT but again look at last year. Do you see the point I am trying to make?

          • Columnist

            November 20th 2017 @ 10:15am
            Tim Gore said | November 20th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

            KC, what you are doing is making excuses for inequity. Totally Avoidable Inequity. If you want to play the “macho, suck it up princess” card, well off you go. My job is to hold the authorities to account for their actions.

        • November 20th 2017 @ 11:06am
          bazza said | November 20th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

          Tim i actually think the Warriors FTA is invalid as football in NZ is covered only on Sky so there is no free to air.
          So the 6pm slot on a friday night is prefect of them because if ppl watch in NZ then it’s in primetime for ppl who pay to watch football or see it in the pub.

          So they are the exception to your stat’s on FTA.

          • Columnist

            November 20th 2017 @ 12:01pm
            Tim Gore said | November 20th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

            Something I make clear in the article

            • November 21st 2017 @ 2:50pm
              matth said | November 21st 2017 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

              Yes but you don;t actually factor it in when assessing winners and losers.

              • Columnist

                November 22nd 2017 @ 1:37pm
                Tim Gore said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

                Sorta do. but yeah, get your point.

        • November 21st 2017 @ 7:09pm
          Griffo said | November 21st 2017 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

          Just a question regarding 5 day turn arounds, Tim. I’m sure there is a real effect but when you analysed the statistics did you compare against other metrics like higher v lower, home v away to see if either of those was a better predictor of who would win? Furthermore was there an analysis regarding the difference in turn around between the teams and whether or not that had an exacerbating effect?

          • Columnist

            November 22nd 2017 @ 1:39pm
            Tim Gore said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            Great question Griffo. I am but one man. These things take time. Lots of time. It’s all done manually. I have no program capable of doing that.
            However, I’d bloody love it!
            Maybe I can develop one and then enter the last 15 years results into a database and then interrogate it…
            But I sorta want my wife not to leave me.

      • November 20th 2017 @ 8:53am
        Oingo Boingo said | November 20th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Welcome to the roar Greenie?

      • November 20th 2017 @ 9:43am
        Greg Ambrose said | November 20th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

        Paul Green said this year after a game ‘that was the worst refereeing display I have ever seen’ and ‘It’s just a shame that the ref ruined the game’ He was later fined. If the referees were that bad then I believe you have little chance of beating the best team in the comp , calling it a reason or an excuse is just playing with words.

    • November 20th 2017 @ 8:29am
      Brendon said | November 20th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      The FTA games is a bit of a double edged sword though. If the Knights and Warriors played on FTA, who would watch? These are teams that are right down there, with no real appeal. They draw a local crowd sometimes, but thats the extent of it. I’d personally rather wacth the bigger, more interesting teams.

      Of course this means there is less money for the teams that are losing, which creates a massive, negative feedback loop.

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2017 @ 9:01am
        Tim Gore said | November 20th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        To paraphrase the great Homer “in the NRL first you get the freetoair, then you get the money and then you get the power.
        An even playing field can not be achieved without an even spread of fra games. The money follows them.
        The logic that the NRL is an entertainment product only is cancerous. It’s about people’s beloved footy clubs. The draw is a vital mechanism to give every supporter’s club a fighting chance. There are three freetoair games each weekend. We can afford at least one of them to be alloted to fairness.
        BTW The knights had the fifth highest crowd in the NRL in 2017 in spite of their form. They consistently turned up. Not sometimes.

        • November 20th 2017 @ 9:56am
          Larry1950 said | November 20th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          The problem with complaints about the draw is that it’s a catch 22 situation, although the NRL has more control instead of CH9, they have to boost and retain ratings to ensure the big money keeps rolling in. As a bronco supporter, I accept other team supporters views re them missing a fair share of FTA (Friday nights in particular) but we never get the family friendly Sunday games that spectators love, it’s a double edged sword.
          Also, you can’t quote numbers at games to justify why the Knights should get more FTA, that might be their overal viewership. They really don’t rate on tv but deserve a fair share for equity sake, no other reason.
          Although Polites has got his way, I’m sure the other ‘winners’ in your list didn’t get much input.

          • Columnist

            November 20th 2017 @ 10:19am
            Tim Gore said | November 20th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            All of which much article states about the Broncos.
            As for your point about the Knights FTA share – the storm get good FTA ratings because they are good. FTA games – as I’ve stated – are a key to getting good. The Knights MUST get more.
            And yes I can quote their crowd figure. If that many turn up when the going is bad I guarantee it will be exponentially bigger when they do well.

            • November 20th 2017 @ 12:50pm
              Larry1950 said | November 20th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

              Wasn’t having a crack re the Knights crowd numbers quote, just have the view that they aren’t a club to drive FTA ratings because of their regional population base. FTA is apparently all about ratings & consequently the viewing numbers, that’s how CH9 get the $ to pay for the rights.
              Seem to recall PWC stated CH9 would be financially better off walking away from cricket with the cost of the rights, don’t want that to happen with the game I love.

              • Columnist

                November 20th 2017 @ 4:57pm
                Tim Gore said | November 20th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

                FAir. I’m fond of it too

        • Roar Guru

          November 20th 2017 @ 1:03pm
          The Barry said | November 20th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          Hi Tim

          “in the NRL first you get the freetoair, then you get the money and then you get the power”

          Is a massive oversimplification. The Knights were rightfully dominating FTA games in the late 90s and early 00s. Because they were good.

          By your rationale they should have been able to maintain their position at the top of the ladder year after year. But they haven’t. They’ve lurched from disaster to disaster.

          The Knights lack of success is down more to mismanagement over an extended period of time than it is to inequities in the draw.

          Maybe the draw makes it more difficult for them but as we all know sport is cyclical. The Knights had their shot at being a ‘glamour’ club with heaps of FTA coverage. And they blew it. Instead of building a sustainable business for the future they basked in the false impression that the Newcastle golden age of Johns, Harragon, Buderus, Gidley, O’Davis, Kennedy, Tahu, Muir, Butterfield, Hughes et al would last forever.

          Like most footy fans I’d love to see the Knights bounce back and I cheer for them in every game bar versus the Bulldogs, but their problems are of their own making not the NRL’s.

          Hate to say it but the Raiders are in the same boat.

          • Columnist

            November 20th 2017 @ 4:53pm
            Tim Gore said | November 20th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

            It’s a Simpsons quote Baz.

            • November 21st 2017 @ 11:10am
              Noel said | November 21st 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report


              • Columnist

                November 21st 2017 @ 11:31am
                Tim Gore said | November 21st 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                Well, yes, as paraphrased by Homer

          • November 20th 2017 @ 5:32pm
            Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | November 20th 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

            I’m not so fussed about the lack of FTA games for teams such as the Raiders and the Knights. This situation isn’t going to change quickly and will only change if both teams have sustained success. Supporters still have the option to get access to Foxtel if they want to see their team play (though it don’t come cheap). NRL is a business and FTA coverage is predominantly locked into covering teams that have the greatest supporter bases. I hardly think the lack of FTA coverage is going to affect performances of teams. Look at how the Storm perform year after year and they used to get stuff all FTA coverage. Personally I don’t care if the Raiders get FTA anymore. And I can’t stand the Ch 9 coverage anyway. If we dispense with this indicator then the Raiders become a -1 using Tim’s rating system rather than a -3 overall due to them not being able to play anyone who has had a 5 day turnaround and also having a couple of 5 day turn arounds without significant travel. I can probably live with this outcome as they are slightly worse off.

            But the other statistics Tim’s highlighted are very interesting – particularly how the Roosters and Storm face the least number of games against top 8 sides. I can sort of understand why they play fewer in the top 4 as they were both in the top 4 themselves last year (i.e. they can’t play themselves so can only play 3 of the other teams in the 4) but it is a bit of worry that they don’t play as many games against top 8 sides as those towards the bottom of the ladder last season such as the Titans and Knights. I just can’t see any rationale for this. Surely the NRL would want to see more blockbusters where the top 8 sides play each other more often. Something is wrong here.

    , ,