I love the word expansion.
And of course, when I heard that NRL are going to expand, I was excited. However, they’re still trying to work out how – and more importantly where – exactly to do that.
This is the part where I shamelessly waltz into this topic with my opinion.
Now there’s looking like there’s two main options for this little situation: either expand to 18 teams or just relocate one or two and keep it to 16 sides.
While expanding to 18 teams is an interesting idea and definitely shakes things up in the league, this comes with many problems.
First off, there’s not enough talent to provide for two teams. Also, there simply isn’t enough time for there to be 18 teams. Right now, there are 25 rounds in a season. That isn’t enough rounds for a team to play against every team twice (one home, one away).
Throw in another two teams, it just becomes more crowded.
Relocating a few teams is smarter – much smarter – as it avoids those problems of time and talent, but relocating just isn’t as exciting as expansion. We have to expand.
So what do we do to fix this little pickle?
Well I have a crazy idea that just might work – 17 teams.
Calm down, just hear me out. Yes, 17 is an annoying number. It’s an odd number, it’s a prime number, and let’s face it, it even looks ugly. But let’s have a look at the positives!
It is easier to supply talent for just one team. You could also do possibly do an expansion draft.
There’s still only eight matches every weekend.
One team gets a bye every round – a chance to rest. This means less fatigue and possibly less injuries.
Of course, this doesn’t fix that ‘time’ problem I was talking about, but that problem still exists no matter how many teams there are. The only solution would be to bring in more rounds per season.
So now that we’ve established why we should have 17 teams in the league, let’s see what new teams there should be.
The strongest contenders for a new team include Perth and another Brisbane team, but other contenders include another New Zealand team, Adelaide and Central Coast.
Of course, Perth and Brisbane deserve a new team, and I would like to see a Central Coast team just because of that rivalry between Central Coast and Newcastle. However, I don’t think Adelaide is interested in having an NRL team and I don’t think New Zealand could support another footy team either.
So three new cities – Central Coast, Perth and Brisbane, but isn’t there only room for one? We have to relocate two teams. Yes, I did say relocation was boring, but with that one new team, you’ve still got that ‘expansion’ factor.
But which teams are we relocating? Let’s do some eliminating. First, we are relocating a Sydney team. There are too many teams in Sydney, so it makes sense to relocate a few. So here’s a list of the Sydney teams: South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters, St George-Illawara Dragons, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Cronulla Sharks, Wests Tigers, Parramatta Eels, Penrith Panthers and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
According to the NRL Club Membership Tracker, there are four Sydney Teams with over 20,000 members; Rabbitohs, Eels, Dragons and Tigers. Which leaves the Roosters, Bulldogs, Sharks, Panthers and Sea Eagles.
Now let’s consider history. The Roosters have been here for over a century, and Bulldogs have been here for over 80 years, so now we’re left with Sharks, Panthers and Sea Eagles. If we move the Panthers, then there is no team left to represent that very west part of Sydney, so that means the Sharks and Sea Eagles.
Sorry Cronulla and Manly fans, but that’s just the hard truth, you guys are relocating.
Now we decide who gets the Sea Eagles, the Sharks, and the new team: Brisbane, Perth or Central Coast.
Let’s face it – Brisbane will never accept a relocated team, so we give them the new team. And we give the Sharks to Perth, since the Perth Sea Eagles sounds too much like the West Coast Eagles in the AFL.
So the Sea Eagles can move to Central Coast, or they could possibly merge into the North Sydney-Central Coast Sea Eagles.
As for Brisbane, their new team could be named after an NFL team, since that’s what they seem to do with other teams (Broncos, Cowboys, Titans, Raiders, Panthers), so they can be called the Brisbane Falcons.
So there you have it.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.