It has been a tough couple of years for the NRL. With Covid taking its toll on the competition, fans locked out of stadiums, very team in the competition having to relocate at certain points, and a set of rules that make the game really hard to watch, the NRL competition has been through a lot.
This is all an opportunity though. This is a chance to look ahead and get the game back on track again.
Here are five changes I would make to get the NRL moving in the right direction in 2022.
Revert Back To The Rule Book From 2019
The NRL has created a hybrid form of the sport with all of the rule changes it has made over the last 18 months. The rule changes made took the closest sporting competition in the world and turned it into a lopsided mess. Most games are blowouts, and good games of footy are few and far between.
There was nothing wrong with the NRL rule set in 2019. The game had a good balance of both attack and defence. Injury rates were lower, the football was better to watch, and as a result the TV ratings were much higher.
It would be very simple for the NRL to dust off the 2019 rule book and play actual Rugby League again.
Relocate Sydney Clubs To Adelaide And Perth
If the Pandemic has taught us anything it is how easy to is to relocate an entire NRL club at a moments notice. You think your club is special though don’t you? The fact is all 16 NRL clubs have had to relocate for the short, or long term over the last 18 months.
For the last couple of months every single NSW based club, as well as the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors have all been relocated to Queensland.These moves literally happened over night.
Now is the time to relocate two Sydney based teams to Perth and Adelaide. It would be VERY easy to do. So lets do it. Our sport needs a national footprint.
Sort Out The Games Junior Development System
I think it has been wildly underestimated how much of an effect we have seen on the NRL with all of its lower grades shut down due to Covid. The effect it has had on player development is immense.
We need to NSW and QLD Cup competitions up and running again. The Melbourne Storm needs its own Melbourne based team in one of these two competitions. They’ve been around since 1999, what are we waiting for? On top of this the National Youth Competition needs to return. When the NYC was around it produces so many NRL ready stars of the sport. It had a great following and was brilliant to watch on TV. Why it was ever shut down is beyond me…
Give New Zealand All The Rugby League It Can Handle
When the New Zealand Warriors can play NRL games at home again, they should not have to leave New Zealand for a proper “away” game for two whole seasons.
Home games for the Warriors should be scheduled for Mount Smart Stadium, but away games should be played throughout the rest of New Zealand. I don’t want to hear any crying from Australian based NRL clubs either. The Warriors have been so amazing taking part in the competition in 2020 and 2021 while based in Australia the whole time. We need to repay the favour.
On top of that the 18th NRL club needs to be based un New Zealand.
International Rugby League 9’s Competition
We need to push push for more international competition and a perfect curtain raiser to the start of any season would be a weekend of international Rugby League 9’s. No NRL clubs, all international teams.
I’d play the competition every year around the Australia Day weekend. early enough that it doesn’t bump into NRL trial games.
I attended the Rugby League 9’s World Cup a couple of years ago at Parramatta Stadium and it was fantastic to watch. we have all the talent we need in the NRL to have a dozen nations represented in a competition like this. We should use it! Throw something into the Rugby League calendar that is a little bit different, where we see players in different teams, and help the profile of the international game at the same time.