SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Luke Keary of the Roosters holds up the Provan-Summons Trophy as he celebrates victory in the 2018 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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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.

Conclusion:

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.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Thoughts? Simple. Bad idea! It won’t catch on or gain public support and will not attract sufficient crowds to all 3 games.

    Just look at the crowd turn outs for the only two replayed GFs in RL history, Dragons vs Eels 1977 and Sharks vs Sea Eagles in 1978. BOTH replayed GFs were a pale imitation of the original with a smaller crowd to witness it with much less atmosphere at the game.

    Just like with “NFL dreams” and Halloween, it’s time for Australians to wake up and realise that they are NOT Americans! We should take pride in our own unique identity instead of trying to copy others. After all, do Americans celebrate ANZAC day and play ‘two-up”?

    • Reg the 48k that turned up the following weekend after the first drew 65k for Saints Parra was excellent considering the average crowds back then were about 8000 people to a game. The other game between Manly and Cronulla was played a few days later in about the mid week which drew from 51k the first game and 33 mid week 2nd.

      These days they would have the first two pre sold out and if the third was required then it also would be a sellout based on Sydney’s population growth from the 1970’s until now πŸŽ“

    • So in BOTH cases crowds were down 20K by game 2 and by game 3? Down another 20K would be 28K and 13K respectively. Did you go to BOTH games Woody? Because I didn’t, I was still in school back then. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      • Looks like I got my “special-K” privileges back just as long as I don’t talk about the chooks. Does Uncle Nick advertise on ZT then?

      • I did attend the 78 replay in the hope those Sharks could turn the porch light off. It sprinkled a little bit at the old majestic Cricket GroundπŸŒ§πŸ‘΄β˜‚ but didn’t hang around long.

        • They setup a TV at school and I saw it live from there. So it was nice weather for Wood-ducks then? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        • They setup a TV at school and I saw it live from there. So it was nice weather for Wood-ducks then? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        • My thumb twitched and my post came out twice! Lucky it didn’t spasm then or my post would have looked like the Dragons run of 11 straight premierships. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  2. It has merit.

    The Roosters lost the 2003 grand final in torrential rain in a year when it was a severe drought. Had they had a second shot WON then the third game would be required to find the winner. Or maybe they can just build a roof on the Olympic Stadium so the true premiers can be decided and not by the elements of the Gods.

    Same goes for 2004 when the Roosters were disallowed a fair try before halftime and in the second half El Midleeasto scored a double movement try, Same as the 2010 grand final when the Roosters lead at halftime 8-6 yet the idiot ref and touck judge allowed a try which changed the momentum when Knightygale blatantly stepped into touch by two feet and was allowed the try

    I could name numerous grand finals when controversy changed the match and a best of three could of decided the true Premiers. Melbourne Saints 1999, 1989 Canberra Balmain deserved the best of three, all those close encounters between Parra and Canterbury during the 1980’s and all the close encounters including 2016 Cronulla Melbourne, 1997 Manly Newcastle, 2015 Brisbane Cowboys and this year just so I can watch it happen will be twice as good and a third not required.

    How many times did World Series Cricket go down to the third final mate they were all exciting.

        • The point of the grand final is to be on point and focused for the game at hand.
          The build up for the day, the training, the effort all year to reach the final game is what every team strives for.
          If you’re not good enough on the biggest day of the year, then you don’t deserve to win. Simple as that.
          The whole idea is as ridiculous as bringing back GF replays.

        • Ok fair enough but I still think it is unfair that the elements like rain can be an advantage to a particular team. Probably a roof like was discussed by the government would have been a better option than to waste money on the knock down rebuild of the footy stadiumπŸ’ͺπŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ”πŸ“

      • just giving possibilities of games that if errors or rain did not contribute to the result perhaps the score may have been turned around. remember the story are thoughts on three grand finals. I’m just coming up with reasons why a 2nd grand final for the losing team would be another bloke buster. πŸ’ͺπŸ”πŸ‘

      • Is it compulsory? Facts only confuse me Dan like irony in this case has confused you I think.

        I believe that was just Phoenix’s ironic way of saying “the nays have it”. Isn’t that right Phoenix?

      • Dan its a yes from Bennett soufths new coach, he would of loved another crack at the cowboys🎠🀠

      • Dan: your most persistent pest has already confessed many times to never reading beyond the headline because he’s just so damn quick to see his own name in β€˜print.’

        I reckon we should all challenge him to write an article so he is open to being cut to shreds.

        Keep up the good work, Dan. Some of us appreciate your work.

        Don’t worry. He won’t understand this response as there are no β€œlast decade emojis” – as my kids coin the phrase. He still seems to think it’s all new!

    • Then the winners can lift the captain’s backside out of the water for the press to take photos! No wait, that’s the America’s Cup yacht race. β›΅βš“

    • This will make it more affordable for struggling families to have a special event day. If the seats are reduced to half the price of them now and a third game id required then the NRL make more income and promote the game further.πŸ’ͺπŸ˜ŽπŸ‘

    • They ruled out the first past the post in the 1920’s. “From 1912 to 1925, the team finishing on top of the ladder after the home-and-away rounds was automatically deemed premiers unless two clubs were on equal points at this point in which case a final was held”. πŸ‘€

      • “They ruled out the first past the post in the 1920’s” because the Rabbitohs kept winning! By the end of the 1920’s Souths had won 9 to the Roosters 4 by then and had already lapped the chooks!

        πŸ‡ = πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†
        πŸ“ = πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†

  3. I like it. I think it has legs. The NRL as much as we love it as “our sport”, is a business, and we compete against other sports and past-times for hearts and minds as they translate to dollars. Most other sports are deliberately growing the length of their season in order to stay relevant for longer – for example the Cricket is no longer just Test matches and One Day, but also BBL and other formats. AFL has AFLX and were quicker on the Women’s version. Bring it on I say – and further increase the length of the season with more Internationals, Nines, Women, Trials (including more Charity Shield type games), and even the partner Touch Footy, etc.

  4. the only way I could feasibly see it working is if it is between a top 4, then a home and away (much like champions league) series to decide the grand finalists.
    A top 8 with 3 weeks of finals then another 3 would be too much and you know the players union already complain about the length of the season.
    It could add an element of intrigue and be more about tactics and depth.

  5. Stupid idea. It smacks of Fulton’s idea in ’83 when Manly were minor premiers by miles but got beaten by Parra in the GF. He wanted best of 3 for premiers (in reality, he was being his usual sore-loser self and just wanted to keep on playing until Manly won). The Grand Final is a special occasion, the absolute pinnacle of the season – let’s keep it that way.

    • Amazing how manly get blamed and are the villains in everything rugby league. Ah, what would NRL do without a team to hate like manly? It Would be like following boring soccer. ⚽️

      • Mate, I have nothing against Manly at all, what I said was about Fulton. If he had still been at Easts and the same happened to them in ’82 I’m sure he would have said the same. The Manly of today and since SuperLeague are nothing like the Manly of the ’70s and ’80s. Their record of producing decent local talent is, I suspect, pretty good compared to, say, Canterbury.
        You’re right about soccer too, as boring as RU.

  6. I’m a fan of the Super League style Round Robin Super 8s system. It would take a few rounds off the regular season, but it would make the finals more interesting while giving the Minor Premiers an even bigger advantage than it currently does.

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