Category Archives: Recaps

NRL Recap – May/June 2019

Just to get it out there, here’s a couple of thoughts from the representative weekend:

  1. It’s shit watching both Queensland teams be terrible. I have enough terrible teams in my life (thanks Broncos and Souths Logan), I don’t need my rep teams joining the list without some upside of the game overall. For example, Australia losing to Tonga would be a pretty big deal and worth taking an L for. Queensland losing does nothing for the game but perhaps someone should consider taking a women’s game, you know in the two team series, north of the border, possibly even all the way to Townsville’s new stadium?
  2. Speaking of favoured teams and the greater cause of rugby league, the London Broncos are looking pretty sharp and might just pull themselves out of the relegation zone. There’s even an extremely unlikely scenario where they might pull themselves into finals contention, being only four points off fifth-placed Salford. Despite having 50 put on them by Hull, Catalans should hold on to a top five slot, mostly due to the pushing and shoving in the group behind. Leeds need to be concerned but are lucky Hull KR are there. They just need to not be last.
  3. Wolfpack keeps Wolfpacking, which is nice. Toulouse keep Toulousing, which is OK if it’s against Toronto.
  4. International footy is a Thing and it has potential. Shout out to the Kiwi Ferns game, which was a blowout but still entertaining enough with plenty of big hits. Second shout out to the PNG Kumuls, who put up a sterling defence of the quality of the Queensland Cup, playing against a NRL 1-17 in Samoa. I had some thoughts on Twitter, starting here:

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NRL & ISC Recap – April 2019

By the way, it’s not just your imagination. If you, like me, have been wondering whether rugby league is somewhat lopsided so far this year, I don’t think you’re wrong. In the NRL, there are by some metrics only six teams above average and really only two of those – Souths and Easts – are excelling. I look forward to them not playing a grand final because rugby league is too chaotic to allow that to happen.

Also, Penrith are looking decidedly unhealthy. They are spoon favourites and down on more than a few metrics. That’s quite surprising to see the incumbent NSW halves pairing lead around a team that could be the worst in a league that also contains the Bulldogs, Knights, Broncos and Titans.

The Sunshine Coast Falcons dismantled the Souths Logan Magpies 72-4 to continue their unbeaten run. While the scoreline itself was close but not an actual record, this has promoted the Falcons’ form rating to 1663, which is extremely high. For comparison, think North Queensland Cowboys at the end of the 2015 regular season, heading to their first premiership. The 2016 Dolphins, the 2015-16 Blackhawks and the 2013 Pride hit similar marks but it has been largely unprecedented in the fifteen years prior of the Queensland Cup. I suppose this speaks to a greater disparity in talent across the league that wasn’t present in earlier years, even though those early years often resulted in teams folding after winless seasons, which is something of a paradox that I don’t have a resolution for.

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NRL & ISC Recap – March 2019

I made a decision a little while ago to forego the weekly recaps. Between doing weekly analysis pieces and a more time consuming tips process, there isn’t a lot of time left over and sprinting through stats every Sunday evening to get a post together for Monday isn’t much fun. It also was difficult to generate new stuff to say every week, especially when the forecasting tracks the form narrative very closely and the Indices didn’t come into play until the second half of the season. Really if you wanted a typical 500 word write-up of the weekend, you could hit up The Roar or Fox League or the NRL website, so I wasn’t adding anything new there. Instead, I want to strip it back to keep to graphs and tables which tell the story of the month that’s been better on their own.

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NRL Recap – Round 24, 2018

While I was sleeping off my Napa-headbutt-induced apoplexy (again), the Catalans Dragons, from Perpignan in the south of France, won the Challenge Cup at Wembley. They became the first non-English team to do so since the competition’s inception in 1896. It’s an amazing milestone in the game’s reconstruction in France and the slow globlisation of the sport. In the last two seasons, we’ve seen:

  • The first pro rugby league team in the Americas
  • PNG Hunters won the Queensland Cup
  • Fiji and Tonga made the World Cup semi-finals
  • Catalan Dragons won the Challenge Cup

For the rugby league lefties – as Mascord likes to call them – all that’s required now is a Warriors NRL premiership, which remains a possibility but perhaps not likely, the promotion of at least Toronto, if not also London and Toulouse, to the Super League and a couple of successful end of season Tests. Should we at least get a Wolfpack promotion and Test matches, we could call 2018 a qualified success.

And then Souths won a scrum against the feed, which made me forget all the other items of interest that’s happened in the NRL this year, e.g. Immortals, retirements of future Immortals, topsy-turvy results, Blues winning Origin and a new women’s premiership.

What a time to be a rugby league fan.

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Results

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NRL Recap – Round 23, 2018

News came through yesterday that the All-Stars game is going to change from an Indigenous against the World format to an Indigenous Australia vs Maori NZ game. All I can say in response is, “Finally.” It makes a decision over who to support much more straightforward, allowing for some emotional investment in the game that’s been missing in the past.

Now if there’s a way to ensure some diversity in the commentators, so we don’t have to listen to the same old tired points of view, and the NRL might just be on to something. If the players turn up for it, as Beetson did in 1980, over time it may well build into something Origin-like. Commercially, it’s a winner. Just think of the jerseys. The All-Stars game is now a much easier sell for New Zealand. The real beauty is that, much as the NRL currently flogs off one of the Origin games to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and elsewhere, they can sell the hosting rights to the All-Stars game to smaller areas, e.g. Newcastle, Townsville or Hamilton, where the stadiums aren’t big enough for Origin but the sport can still offer an appropriately scaled showpiece match in exchange for taxpayer dollars. I imagine something similar might happen with women’s Origin.

It’s a brave new world of relatively smart decision making. Just need the powers that be to organise a decent end of season Test/s and we may be able to make a fist of this rugby league thing without folding a bunch of Sydney clubs.

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Results

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NRL Recap – Round 22, 2018

I suppose if I was going to write an op-ed to open this week’s post, it should be about Cleary’s non-defection to the Panthers and what’s going to happen to Bennett at Red Hill. If I am honest, coach movements are about as interesting to me as bowel movements (or you could read Mascord’s much better take). If I can quote at length from Soccernomics, which offers this insight among many, many others:

A manager might not affect his team’s result, but after the game he’s the person who explains the result at the press conference. He is the club’s face and voice. That means he has to look good – which is why so many of them have glossy, wavy hair – and say the right things in public. The forte of most managers is not winning matches – something over which they have little control – but keeping all the interest groups in and around the clubs (players, board, fans, media, sponsors) united behind them.

With a few obvious exceptions, I’d be surprised if the NRL was much different.

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Results

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NRL Recap – Round 21, 2018

The battle for the soul of rugby league continues, as the vested interests, and their patsies in the media, continue to fling poop at the refs and the organisation and the game like a bunch of bored monkeys. Which is basically what it comes down to: the rich and powerful (at least by rugby league standards), bereft of meaning in their lives, look for playthings to amuse them. The rest of us suffer the consequences.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about this week. In a strange turn of events, Andrew Johns has called for fewer teams in Sydney:

It was a throwaway comment that we perhaps shouldn’t read too much into but I thought the response was interesting. Those of us north of the Tweed seemed to be praising Johns for the first time ever while the response south was decidedly more frosty and defensive. The best case most Sydneysiders will offer to reduce congestion in their market is to move a given team, which if you dig a little deeper, is inevitably their least liked team. Funny that. Sydney rugby league’s tribalism causes an astonishing amount of petty short-sightedness.

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