The McInTurdler System
I have long had many issues with the McIntyre system for NRL finals. The very notion that, if, as one would expect, Teams 1-4 win the first week of the finals, Team 3 subsequently plays team 5 (a higher team than the first week) in a knockout semi final is perplexing. If teams 1 and 2 win, there is absolutely no use whatsoever in the second week of finals, other than to address the following flaw. The simple statistical fact that in the 9 years that the McIntyre system has been in effect, the team who has had the week off has progressed to the grand final in 9 out of 18 qualifying finals. 90% of the time, this has been the 1 or 2 ranked team, and they only win 50% of the time. Given that they have been the strongest side all year, you would expect this to be closer to 75%. While having the second week off seems to work well in the AFL, it is a clear disadvantage in the NRL. Ultimately, the week off should be the first week, with the stakes not being quite as high in the following week.
My proposed system extends upon the McIntyre system to address these issues as follows:
Week 1: Teams 1 and 2 have the week off
3 v 8
4 v 7
5 v 6
Lowest 2 ranked losers drop out. Team 3 is the only team assured passage through to the second week.
1 v remaining loser
2 v lowest ranked winner
highest ranked winner v second highest ranked winner
Lowest 2 ranked losers drop out. Team 1 is the only team assured passage through to the third week.
Highest ranked winner vs remaining loser
Second highest ranked winner vs third highest ranked winner
Week 4: Both winners progress to Grand Final.
((At this point I will note that there is another possible variation on this system whereby each week finals are decided based on the ladder position at the end of the season (IE in week 2, team 1 plays the lowest ranked team still remaining, team 2 plays second lowest etc). However, this system, while eliminating the possibility that teams 1 and 3 can potentially meet in the second week of the finals, has the similar drawback to the current system that week 1 has no effect for team 3, and week 2 has no effect for Team 1))
I believe this system addresses the current flaws, and is far more advantageous to the team who wins the minor premiership (the way it should be). It also means that every game has an impact - which, in a finals series is vitally important. Additionally, it will space the finals out. 4 finals in the first week is too many, the end is too far away, and it loses impact. If there is one extra final in the second week, I think the level of support, both at the ground and on TV will increase.
The NRL will never admit that the McIntyre system is rubbish (Isn't that why the AFL dropped it?), but I think this is a reasonable compromise.
Please let me know your thoughts, and if there is any issues with this system I have overlooked.