NRL pitches radical plan that would change the sport forever by splitting the league in HALF to make it more like America’s NFL
The NRL is reportedly considering introducing a conference-style competition structure in the biggest shake up of the league in its history.
In turn, that would allow all nine Sydney clubs to play each other twice each year as well as nine non Sydney teams including Newcastle and Canberra.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald report, that would allow each team to play others in their conference twice and those on the half of the competition once from 2023.
The idea of conferences was first seriously floated during last year’s COVID-19 shutdown, as the game tried to restart safely during a shortened season.
But while administrators eventually took a different option, they never completely went away from the idea.
The benefits would include more local rivalries, while it would theoretically even out a competition that is now not entirely equal given each team only plays eight others twice.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has long been a fan of the idea, and backed it in an interview last month.
‘I think they should play in conferences, I’ve always argued for conferences,’ Bennett said at the time.
‘I think Sydney do themselves a great disservice by not playing each other on a regular basis home-and-away because that’s what the fans want in Sydney.
‘(Sydney fans) embrace the national league but they also embrace the club rivalry and unless you’re living in Sydney you don’t realise how strong it is.’
In this year’s draw, Canterbury only play rivals the Sydney Roosters once, while Manly and Cronulla is another grudge match not played twice.
The system could then open up two potential finals series, including the Super Bowl system of two conference finals winners facing off in a decider or a regular top-eight system.