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Sick of fans predicting blowout scores between top teams and bottom teams due to the new rules, the NRL will bring in the code’s biggest shake-up since the Super League days.
From 2022, the NRL will expand to 18 teams and be split into an NRL Premier Division and an NRL Second Division.
NRL Premier Division
Penrith, Melbourne, Parramatta, Sydney Roosters, Canberra, South Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane Broncos, Brisbane Bombers.
NRL Second Division
Cronulla-Sutherland, Gold Coast, Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra Dragons, NZ Warriors, Manly Warringah, North Queensland, Canterbury-Bankstown, West Coast Pirates.
The respective competitions will be 16 rounds long (eight games a round, with one bye for each division), with four weeks off for representative football.
While they’ll operate as separate competitions (there will be no cross-division matches), a two-up-two-down promotion/relegation system will exist between the divisions: the bottom two Premier Division teams will move down to Second Division, while the Second Division grand finalists will advance to the Premier Division. Both divisions will have the new rules that were introduced in the 2020/21 off-season.
The competitions will operate in three stages: the first eight rounds will see the Premier Division teams play each other once and the Second Division teams doing the same. The NRL will then be suspended for a four-week representative period, with a three-match women’s Origin series, a three-match men’s Origin series (with the series played over three consecutive Wednesday nights), and a quadrangular Pacific Nations (Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, PNG), concluding in a final between the top two teams. Following that, rounds nine to 16 of the Premier Division and Second Division will resume.
There will be separate top five finals series’: the winner of the Premier Division will win the Provan-Summons Trophy, while the Second Division premier will win the brand new Meninga-Langer Trophy.
The four Premier Division games will be play in the peak TV slots: Thursday night, prime-time Friday night, and a Saturday night 5:30/7:30 double-header. The four Second Division games will be played on Friday at 6pm, Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, and Sunday night.
Peter V’landys – the brainchild of the competition – said separating the two divisions will promote better quality football. “The Premier Division sees the best of the best in the NRL play each other twice, as well as featuring the teams with the best rivalries, like the new Brisbane derby and Roosters v Rabbitohs. The Second Division lets rebuilding teams, and the new West Coast Pirates, play sides more to their standard. It allows these teams to improve gradually, with the best rewarded with promotion.”
Veteran crank Buzz Rothfield has slammed the new format. “V’landys is a deadset gibberer! Did he learn nothing from the Super League war? Splitting to NRL into two comps will turn footy into English soccer, where a handful of elite teams win all the time and the rest play for nothing. Because of this horrible new format, some weaker Second Division will be stuck in the s*** comp and slowly die. V’landys will be personally responsible for killing footy in the suburbs! Plus, the bastard put my Sharkies in the Second Division, when they clearly deserve to be in the Premier Division!”
In response to the criticism, V’landys said, “Buzz is like the creepy old guy at the pub who keeps telling the same old stories and stares at you with dead eyes. I know this new format will work! If it doesn’t, I’ll go to the 2022 AFL Grand Final, stay for the whole game, and even fill out the scorecard in their little magazine!”
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