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The Roar



Zen and the art of premiership maintenance

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10th April, 2020

It sounds like the NRL season is back on from May 28th.

Back slaps all around.

But while there’s an ambitious restart date, the mechanics of how all this works are still to be plucked from the ether.

So, at this stage, I’ll believe it when I see it.

There are two basic thought bubbles. One is the conference system, but I’m going to pop that one straight out of hand. It’s neither fair nor necessary.

The second is for the 16 clubs to play each other once, followed by a quick knock-out finals series. Hey, maybe even cut a few teams along the way. Bingo! Sounds like we have a winner.

Sydney Roosters

(Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Not only is this the most sensible way forward in the short term – it’s the most viable way forward in future. And the key is through quality.

The scarcity principal tells us that where there’s limited supply, coupled with higher demand, you get an increase in value.


And I’m not just talking for broadcasters – this works for the fans as well. Less is more when it comes to quality. Hear me out.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was first published in 1974, and it may as well have been talking straight at today. A small-town everyman becomes obsessed with one question: what is it that makes something good?

What, indeed, is quality? Spoiler alert: it’s not 25 rounds of meaningless matches. Whether subjective or objective, quality is the source of everything. It’s detail over volume, a woke monism dedicated to excellence, and our path to perpetuity.

In the context of rugby league, the answer is simple – we need a 14-team competition played over 16 weeks. Reserve two byes for Origins 1 and 2, then play Game 3 mid-week. That is, of course, if it’s even required.

Then six teams make the finals, two get jettisoned in Weeks 1 and 2, followed by the grand final in Week 3. No double chances, and every game matters.


So bring on May 28th, and let’s see if we can bring back some quality over quantity. It might be the re-set the game sorely needed.