Game listens to fans, replaces stupid finals system
The McIntyre System is no more. Abandoned in 1999 by the AFL, and mystifyingly adopted by the old ARL the same year, the completely inexplicable system has at last been ditched on the same useless rugby league scrapheap as John Hopoate and the Western Reds.
Oh wait, they’re now talking about another Perth team again, aren’t they? Anyway, McIntyre is gone. This is good. No disrespect to the venerable mathematician, the late Ken McIntyre, but his system had all the user-friendliness of a sudoku crossed with a cryptic crossword written in Mandarin.
Today’s decision was handed down by the new ARL Commission, which was clearly keen to broker some sort of peace with NRL club chief executives who are in the process of forming their own lobby group. The commission was no doubt also trying to tell fans it is listening to them. Mission accomplished.
No fan liked the McIntyre system. Not one. Explaining it in full would be like explaining the laws of cricket to an American, but the gist was that team 1 played 8, team 2 played 7, team 3 played 6 and team 4 played 5. After that, things got weird and it became a lottery.
Example. Last year, the Tigers finished fourth, beat the reigning premiers the first week and were “rewarded” – punished, more like – by having to play a sudden death match the following week.
In the AFL system, if the team that finished fourth wins its first final, it gets a richly-deserved week off before a preliminary final.
The AFL system is not perfect. No team outside the top four has come close to making a dent in the finals for years, while the last three NRL grand finals have featured teams that came from 6th, 6th and 8th.
Whether this reflects the evenness of the NRL competition or the quirks of McIntyre remains to be seen. Hopefully, teams outside the top four will still be able to make grand finals. If they do, we’ll at last be able to say that they’ve really, really earned it.
So well done rugby league, and well done the Commission, who were no doubt hoping to hear words to this exact effect. In fact, it’s probably the reason they made the change.
Either that or they were desperate for a news story, any news story, to mask the oncoming PR disaster when tonight’s season launch goes horribly wrong, as it does pretty much every year.
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