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The Forward Pass: What’s the NRL’s exciting new competition?

The fake news that’s actually fake.

The NRL has launched an innovative pre-season competition.

The KFC NRLZ – created by NRL CEO Todd Greenberg – will be played from Thursday March 1 to Saturday March 3 in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with all 16 NRL clubs participating.

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Competition rules include:

  • Seven players per team, three reserves.
  • Two seven minute halves, with two points for a win, two points for a Golden Point win, one for a Golden Point loss.
  • Normal tries worth four points, drop goal conversions two points, no field goals allowed.
  • Tries scored inside the attacking team’s half (50 metre line or behind) are worth 20 points and called Kentucky Fried Tries.
  • Six tackles, no scrums (play restarted with a quick tap instead), no kicking on the last tackle.
  • A 100-metre oval field, with the Gabba, SCG and MCG to be used.
  • One on-field referee and one video referee.

The KFC NRLZ is split into two preliminary days and one finals day, starting 4pm and ending 10pm.

PRELIMINARY DAY ONE (Thursday March 1), GABBA

GROUP A: Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast (six matches)

GROUP B: Brisbane, Wests Tigers, Parramatta, NZ Warriors (six matches)

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PRELIMINARY DAY TWO (Friday March 2), SCG

GROUP C: Cronulla, South Sydney, Manly, Canterbury (six matches)

GROUP D: Penrith, Canberra, North Queensland, St. George-Illawarra (six matches)

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The top two teams from each group advance to the KFC NRLZ Finals Day. Finals teams are ranked according to win-loss ratio and points differential. Top four teams earn a double chance.

FINALS DAY (Saturday March 3), MCG

FINALS ROUND ONE: A) 5 v 8, B) 6 v 7, C) 2 v 3, D) 1 v 4

FINALS ROUND TWO: E) loser D v winner A, F) loser C v winner B

FINALS ROUND THREE: G) winner D v winner F, H) winner C v winner E

NRLZ GRAND FINAL: I) winner G v winner H

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Greenberg is excited by this unique tournament. “I can’t wait to watch the game’s fastest players on the massive oval fields. They’re going to have so much room they won’t know themselves. We should see some high-scoring footy – get a couple of KFTs and you’re almost at 50 points. It’s going to be magical and will fill the hole left by the Auckland Nines and All Stars. Our tournament slogan ‘come catch some Zzzzzs’ sums up the excitement beautifully.”

As part of KFCs sponsorship deal, fans receive a free bucket of chicken or 24 chicken nuggets and a drink if they wear their favourite team’s jersey. KFC donated $10,000 prizemoney for the tournament winners and a trophy shaped like Colonel Sanders.

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All three days are broadcast on Channel Nine, with commentators encouraged to be as enthusiastic as possible, especially when KFTs are scored.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan is suing the NRL for stealing their AFLX idea, through Greenberg is unmoved.

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“Let them sue us! Our KFC NRLZ is nothing like their boring AFLX,” said Greenberg. “I came up with the idea all by myself, where the AFL guys probably had a bunch of cynical, money-obsessed suits dream up their ridiculous competition.”

Some coaches aren’t convinced.

“This is a bloody stupid idea!” said Canberra coach Ricky Stuart. “I’m trying to get my boys up for round one and we’re sidetracked by this nonsense. Lots of other coaches feel this way, can’t wait for the real footy to start.”

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The Forward Pass is a fictional and deliberately ridiculous look at the NRL. References to real people is for satirical purposes only.
Check it out on Twitter @thefwdpass

Deputy Sports Editor for the Australian Times Weekly

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