On a recent episode of the Bill Simmons Podcast, the topic of Tim Duncan came up.
It’s eerie. Every year without fail (almost) there’s an uncanny similarity between the winners of the AFL and NRL premierships.
I first noticed this phenomenon back in 1977, when both codes had drawn grand finals. Since then there’s been convergence after coincidence.
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In 1989, both codes had arguably their best grand finals ever. In 1992 the Broncos and Eagles both become the first interstate winners.
In 2016 I pointed out on this site the amazing parallels between Cronulla and the Western Bulldogs. They were both sentimental favourites who hadn’t won for years (or ever), the local team beating an interstate rival, and the most significant parallel of all – both teams had three colours!
So the search is on for this year’s omens. Once the most important parallels are found it’s a reliable tipping method, but only for the Sunday game, as the key to this is that the features of the successful AFL premier are guaranteed to be matched in the NRL decider.
So what are the crucial factors? This year we can go deeper than superficialities like colours (1996 Sydney Swans and St George both lose) or sponsors (1995 Carlton and Canterbury both winning while sporting Hyundai on their jerseys) and get to the analysis of the teams.
It’s simple this weekend. If West Coast win on Saturday then Melbourne will win on Sunday. Look at the parallels – both finished second on the ladder after the regular season and both are the interstate club. Easy!
To top it off, both have won three premierships (yes, I know the arguments about how many ‘Grannies’ the Storm have won, but the records say three premierships) and are playing for number four this weekend.
On the other hand, if Collingwood win then expect the Roosters to triumph. The home team factor against an interstate interloper is enough for that assertion, but in a search for more I’ve identified four further crucial common factors.
The first is obvious, in that both have birds as their animal symbol. The next factor is more subtle but equally vital – both clubs are run by powerful figures who have huge influence in their respective codes, Eddie McGuire and Nick Politis.
Added to that they are both foundation clubs in their codes, a rare occurrence considering there are only six left in their original location in the AFL and two in the NRL.
Finally, allowing for the Roosters starting later than the Pies (1908 vs 1892), since they’ve both existed in parallel they’ve won 13 premierships! (Two of Collingwood’s 15 VFL flags were won before 1908).
So there you have it. Convincing convergences that hold the key to the results.
That’s unless of course it doesn’t work out, in which case there’s sure to be some obscure links between the Magpies and the Storm or the Eagles and the Roosters that can justify the theory for another year!