The current format of the NRL doesn’t allow for each team to play each other twice. Doing that would mean extending the season by another six weeks and, even if they players were up for that (which they are not), as an armchair analyst, I don’t think I could cope.
This means that not every team’s schedule is the same. For twenty-four games, each teams plays each other once and plays a second game against nine other teams. The NRL has no particular interest in trying to provide the mythical “balanced schedule” that would be fair for all teams and prefers to use the opportunity to use a doubling up of rivalry games to generate commercial returns.
This might seem grossly unfair, especially if your team has to play the premiers twice, but it is what it is. What I’m interested in looking at this week is how slanted the schedules are and who will have an easier time of the 2019 NRL season and who will have to do it the hard way.
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This headline (the actual article is fine) from Tim Gore typified the attitude when the draw was released in November last year:
Not only were the NRL never going to redo the draw, it speaks to the tendency that the they can do no right in the fans’ eyes (“Release the draw earlier! No, not that one, a different one”).
Looking at last year’s ladder and having a whinge that your team has to play three top four teams twice is peak gronkery. It’s fuelled by emotion and we can do better. So here you go: a quantitative analysis of who has the toughest draw in the NRL.
In 2003, the Golden Point system was introduced to decide games that were drawn at full time. Prior to that, instead of the two points awarded to the outright winner, the drawn teams would split the points and take home one competition point each.
Golden Point continues play for a further ten minutes after full time in two five minute halves or until a team scores at least one point, winning the game. A field goal is the most common way these games are decided. If the game has no points scored after the ten minutes, then the game remains drawn and the teams share the points.
I don’t love it and I think it’s a crapshoot.
(Crap-shoot or craps-hoot? One sounds more fun than the other)
Look! Here’s some evidence to suggest it is a craps-hoot.