NEWS ARTICLE

My thoughts on standalone Origin


Thursday August 4, 2011
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KEYTO’S NRL HITS (and misses) – Last week we finally saw the formation of our independent commissioners to put us right on the verge of making this much talked about transformation. One of the big issues in recent months has been State of Origin with standalone games on a weekend favoured by players and clubs.

That will leave us with no club football at all for three (or four with the Test Match) weekends of the season. But I have a solution.

The Clubs

Most players and NRL clubs seem to agree Origin will be best suited to a Sunday night, with no other club games for that entire weekend. That means no one will be without their best players for potentially three matches of the season and no one has to back-up any less than five days after the match. This is a perfectly valid argument.

The Fans

Remember – these are the people buying the tickets, watching on television and generating the revenue so fans’ opinions are vitally important. The people love Origin on a Wednesday night. It is been the most successful of any other night and been a tradition that rugby league fans have known for 30 years.

They also love club football on weekends, even if the best players or teams aren’t there. Yes the standard is lower, but the one time we trialled standalone Origin matches the people were bored on the weekend. They were crying out for a game, any game, to watch before the big event.

In the modern age, if the fans can’t find an NRL game to watch in the middle of a season who is to say they won’t flick over and watch AFL instead?

The Broadcasters

I think it’s fair to say Channel Nine love Origin on a Wednesday night too because it goes totally unopposed to any other sporting (or major) event. It’s also fair to say that Fox Sports want club football on the weekends too.

However both seem prepared to negotiate and work with the other shareholders on this issue.

England’s Challenge Cup

The English Super League breaks a number of times throughout the season to play a Challenge Cup knockout tournament. It is much the same as their soccer FA Cup – a host of clubs join the elite teams in a knock-out competition with the last team remaining declared the winners.

Often the winner of England’s Challenge Cup won’t necessarily be the team dominating the Super League competition and it’s a concept I would like to see here. It is totally separate to the main competition and it may give the lesser teams, who realistically won’t be there on Grand Final day, something to aim for.

My idea

If we must go to standalone Origin matches on a Sunday night, without any NRL games at all on the weekend, I would like to see a knock-out competition played over the four representative weekends. We can use it to give some games to country areas and also as a way to bring in young talent.

Rules – Each NRL team will be represented however, they must use a minimum of 8-10 players from the Toyota Cup or with less than 3 NRL games under their belt. This helps to develop young players, introduce them to the audience and also allows the Coach to manage workloads and give his main players a rest should he choose.

Week One – The Test Match will be played on the Friday night before eight first round Knock-out matches in country areas. This will leave us with eight NRL teams remaining.

Week Two – Four Knock-out quarter finals to be played over the weekend. They can have one on Friday, one Saturday afternoon and two Saturday night, again in the country areas. This will culminate with Origin I on the Sunday night.

Week Three – The Knock-out semi finals to be held this weekend in places like Newcastle, Townsville, Melbourne or Perth – anywhere that’s a strong rugby league area but without the mainstream exposure of a Sydney or Brisbane. Origin II will be held alone on Sunday night.

Week Four – The Knockout Final to be held on the Friday night from the home side’s venue. The annual City-Country game to be played on the Saturday with any player not involved in the final to be considered. But both sides must have at least five players be included from the Toyota Cup. Finally Origin III to be played on Sunday night.

This gives us a minimum of three matches each weekend of the season while also allowing the clubs to manage workload and hopefully avoid burning out their key players. It satisfies the clubs, broadcasters and most importantly, the fans.

TIPPING

Tips – Dragons, Cowboys, Storm, Broncos, Sharks, Knights, Eagles, Rabbitohs
Last Week – 5/8
Total –93/152 (61%)

Thanks for reading again and let me know if this is something you would be keen to watch. You can comment below or find me on twitter (@keyto316) or email (andrew.keyte@gmail.com.

Have a great week,
Keyto