Just over three weeks after a thrilling – yet controversial – end to the 2019 NRL Season, and lo and behold the draw has been released for the next one.
It’s that day when suddenly all who swore they’d never touch the NRL again after the Roosters controversial grand final win are suddenly up and about, revelling over a big list of 16 different logos placed against each other 192 times.
For those who don’t have Kayo or Foxtel – or just simply don’t want to pay to watch their teams play – you were like me two or more years ago. You absolutely scrambled to see how many games the scheduling gods at Channel Nine would allow your team to see.
Previously, I covered how many games Channel Nine had given each team across the 2008–2018 seasons, so what does this mean?
That’s right – I have crafted up another ladder of how many free-to-air games your team’s been given this year. Here it is.
1. Broncos: 18
2. Storm: 14
3. Rabbitohs: 13
4. Dragons: 12
5. Eels: 12
6. Manly: 11
7. Panthers: 11
8. Roosters: 11
9. Tigers: 11
10. Cowboys: 10
11. Bulldogs: 9
12. Raiders: 8
13. Sharks: 8
14. Knights: 7
15. Titans: 2
16. Warriors: 1
Your first instinctive reaction is probably, “The Broncos! Of course they’re way up the top again!” You’ve most likely also pointed out, “Look at the Warriors, down at the bottom of as usual!”
I can confirm those two placements follow common trends, but the most interesting thing is that – above the Titans and below the Broncos – the distribution of games this year is very evenly spread compared to normal.
It’s true that Sydney teams dominate the top half of the ladder, but it’s extraordinary that the Knights – being the third lowest on the ladder – have actually received the most free-to-air regular season fixtures they’ve ever got since 2013.
The biggest surprise of all however could be Melbourne with the second most games at 14 – with a whopping seven in a row to finish the season – since in 2015 they received just three of these games and have historically been low down the list.
Or perhaps the biggest surprise here is the Bulldogs at just nine free-to-air games. “Nine games? I mean that’s not too bad, really!” is what I hear you think, but bear in mind that since 2008 the Bulldogs have had the second most free-to-air fixtures after the Broncos.
If you’d told me that the Bulldogs would only by given one more fixture than the historically Channel-Nine-free Raiders this season, I would’ve spit out my Weet-Bix this morning and doubted you big time.
The good news is however, that if your team’s won a premiership – sorry Warriors and Titans fans – then you’ll be able to watch your team for free at least once in every four of their games.
As for the present, you can now get back to work and keep the horrors of rugby league’s recent past in the back of your mind until the Nines return to Perth in February. That’s ages away, so try to think about the summer of sport ahead – for your own sake.