The NRL off-season always throws up plenty of interesting questions and creates plenty of debate. This season more-so than ever after a huge amount of player movement and the ongoing coaching dramas.
This time, surprisingly, it is our neighbours to the south and the AFL that have been debating an interesting concept, and one that will inevitably be brought up in our vastly superior game also.
Following an incredible Grand Final in late September, the idea of a three-game series has been floated.
There are obvious advantages in introducing a longer series than the current one-off, winner-takes-all event we hold now across the big codes in Australia.
Although, there are also equally obvious drawbacks.
For the record I can’t see it happening. Truthfully I’m a huge fan of the Grand Final set up we have now. There is no more exciting way to end a season, although I can see some real merit to at least discussing the idea.
For the introduction of a series:
In terms of revenue, a three-game series is a no-brainer. Although you wouldn’t be able to charge Grand Final prices for game one, three times as many games (at least two) creates huge commercial appeal.
That’s obvious, but I’m not interested in the TV and ticketing revenue here, I’m looking more-so in the eyes of fans.
A three-game series would reward consistency and help combat the ‘freak’ result that comes out of nowhere.
You do feel a little bit guilty when a side loses a Grand Final after dominating the competition all season. That is how the EPL works. It can blunt the excitement a little but I’d suggest that the Man City final day title win from a few seasons ago was as exciting as any Grand Final.
Possibly the best example here would be Newcastle’s win over the Eels many years ago. Parra were the best side all season yet were ambushed in the opening 20 minutes and could never overcome the deficit.
The Knights, on the day, were the far better side, but across the 26+ rounds of the season (including finals) the Eels were head and shoulders above all others.
Any team can be beaten on any given day by any side. Throw in a second, and possible third game, it really takes that away.
You couldn’t tell me that the Storm wouldn’t have gone away and spent the entire week righting the wrongs of Grand Final day. Throw in the added drama of another Cooper Cronk “will he/won’t he” week and you have a brilliant fortnight and possibly longer story.
Against the idea of a series:
The obvious appeal of a one-off Grand Final is the excitement it generates. There is no feeling in the world like that excitement in your stomach on Grand Final day.
Multiple it by a about a thousand times when it’s your side on the biggest day of the year with a chance to lift that precious, beautiful looking trophy.
You lose that in game one of a series. Sure, it’ll be there in game two, or three, but a one-off Grand Final is absolutely must see.
It’s an occasion like no other.
The biggest code in the world, the NFL, hold a one-off Grand Final (the Superbowl) despite almost every other US sport opting for a series in both finals and the decider(s).
As a fan, it gets mightily expensive travelling to a game, especially coming from interstate. Imagine having to do it three times. That would be a nightmare to organise with work.
It also rewards preparation and peaking at the right time. The Roosters kept getting better in 2018 as the season went on. By Grand Final day they were in a world of their own. That takes incredible planning.
Sure, you’d have to plan for a three-game series, but an injury to a key player in game one really changes things up. Yes, it happens in Origin, but a three-game finals series wouldn’t take place over a two month period.
Grand Finals feels special. It’s an occasion. Every kid grows up imaging kicking the winning goal, or scoring the winning try, on Grand Final day, not on scoring a try in game one of three in a three-game series.
Tradition is also very important. Grand Final day (and recently Grand Final weekend) is a tradition I don’t want to see pushed aside for a push for revenue and ‘fairness’.
If you’re good enough, you win on the day.
The one-off Grand Final is going nowhere, and nor should it.
It’s the most exciting day of the season. Literally nothing beats a brilliant Grand Final.
The Johnathan Thurston field goal, the Andrew Fifita try, that Benji Marshall flick. Those are all moments that will never be forgotten.
I challenge anyone to give me a highlight from game two of the NBA finals series last season.
I’m a strong believer that the best side across the competition should be rewarded, but the Minor Premiership is named as such for a reason.
It simply doesn’t mean as much as the Grand Final day does.
Keep the Grand Final format as it is, and invest in making the Minor Premiership mean more.