Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Over the past month, talks of the NRL potentially introducing a conference system have emerged as a way to boost intrigue in rugby league.
However, a more effective way of boosting interest in the National Rugby League would be to introduce a promotion and relegation system.
Fans have been complaining for years now that there are too many dead rubber games towards the end of every season, with teams playing for nothing more than two competition points.
Introducing a promotion and relegation system would eradicate this problem, as clubs would still be fighting to finish in the top four or the finals, but fans would also see matchups between teams trying to avoid relegation and matchups between teams in the second division who are fighting for promotion.
We would likely see a significant boost in attendance and overall interest in the game if those situations were able to happen.
This would be a big change, with years of work needing to be put in before the system’s commencement.
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A promotion and relegation system would need to be announced anywhere between three to five years before coming into play so that current reserve grade clubs with the funds and facilities to play in the top grade can break ties with their NRL counterpart and put in a bid to join the new second division.
Potential expansion clubs would also have the opportunity to do the same.
When the new second division is a year away from launching, then the bottom four clubs from the NRL should be relegated, therefore making said second division a twelve to sixteen team competition made up of former NRL, reserve grade and expansion clubs.
This would of course also mean that the NRL becomes a twelve-team competition.
Once the new system is launched, the best way to determine who is promoted and relegated would be to have the team who finishes last in the NRL instantly relegated, with the team who finishes first in the second division instantly promoted.
The team who finished second last in the NRL would then face the team who finished second in the second division, with the winner playing in the NRL the following season.
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