From The Coach’s Office: NRL expansion without relocation



HERE’s the Addison blueprint for future success.

And we AVOID a relocation of clubs!


We need to make it easier for dyed-in-the-wool league people to get to games. We play games on Thursdays yet virtually everyone in the rugby league world is at training on a Tuesday and Thursday at their local club. In Brisbane in recent years for example, many games were on Thursdays and Fridays and many juniors train on Thursdays and play their games on Friday nights!

Hello !!!!?? 🤔

Why do we make it so hard for the “converted” league people to attend or even watch games on TV?

All “amateur” games should be scrapped or moved to finish at least two hours prior to an NRL game in that particular region. So for example, if Cronulla have a home game at 7:30pm on a Saturday, all games in the Cronulla Sutherland local comp are to be finished by 5:30pm.

If it’s a Saturday at 3pm NRL match, then the local games are finished at 1pm and other fixtures moved to Fridays and Sundays.

You can almost guarantee that a huge chunk of the players and club officials now free from commitment will either go to the NRL game or watch it on TV. Therefore bums on seats or ratings.


We need to ensure the NRL competition is fair (eg: everyone plays each other home and away once or similar) and we need to avoid the situation where there are meaningless matches, either because a team only needs to finish eighth (or in the future, 10th) in a 16 team competition to make finals. Think about it – you can have an average season and still make semis.

We also need to avoid the ridiculous situation where our best 30 to 40 players are taken out mid-season for Origin and clubs play without them. So, here’s my blueprint to avoid all that.

Two “conferences” of nine teams

Sydney conference – the current nine teams.

Sea Eagles, Eels, Panthers, Dragons, Sharks, Tigers, Bulldogs, Roosters and Rabbits. 

Out-of-Sydney conference

Broncos, Titans, Knights, Storm, Raiders, Warriors, Cowboys plus two expansion teams.

Each team in each conference plays each other home and away (16 rounds)

The top four in each conference then go into the “Cup” or the top division. They then play the top four from the other conference making a further eigh rounds for a total of 24 rounds.

The bottom five of each conference go into the second division. They play the five from the other conference giving 10 extra games and a total of 26 rounds.

So that the two divisions marry up calendar-wise, the top division can have bye rounds.

The second division is a competition in its own right with a top five finals series providing more content.

Those who argue that there isn’t enough talent going around, haven’t looked hard enough. They are talking out of their you-know-whats. There’s loads of talent and that’s just in Australia! Also, if they pick some smaller players and stop being obsessed with big players over six feet tall, then that will fill some spots too. 


Mid-season, the NRL breaks for four weeks for the “representative season”

(continues below)

Twenty-four-man squads are picked for Origin. They stay in Origin mode for four weeks. Origin is played on a weekend night at the end of week one, the second game is nine to 10 days later on the Wednesday of week three and once again at the weekend of week four.

This would mean no interruption to NRL club fixtures.

All non-Origin selected, Australian born players will represent their clubs in a Nines circuit that takes place at weekends in places such as Perth, Wellington, Country NSW and Queensland and maybe even Asia.

All non-Australians will represent either ….

Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, PNG (and any other local nations) in a tournament eg: a round robin


England or NZ, who play in an annual Test series;

or they partake in the above tournament. Maybe both, on alternate years.


To avoid empty stadia as much as possible, the Saturday TV time slots that are often at 3:30pm, 5:30pm and 7:30pm are all staged at the same venue as much as possible.

Several Sydney clubs such as the Bulldogs, Rabbitohs and at times the Tigers and the Eels use ANZ stadium as their home base. With it being redeveloped, I guess Bankwest could be used a lot more often. Let’s have this ground used as often as possible for the Saturday triple header for these teams’ home games.

This would mean six sets of fans in one stadium. The TV companies only need to use one set of cameras and other resources. A win-win scenario.

We can also use Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane or a ground NZ in a similar manner, if the expansion teams come from Brisbane or New Zealand.

The upsides of this plan ….

👍No clubs relocated
👍More clubs, more contracts
👍More TV content
👍Chances for bigger crowds
👍More Sydney derbies
👍More big city games
👍Competition is fairer
👍Each week means something
👍More meaningful games
👍Clubs get a “clear run” from rep clashes
Four weeks’ break from the NRL gives a focussed period to sell new TV rights packages for rep fixtures
👍Expansion is at the forefront with two new clubs and a roaming Nines circuit
👍Two divisions means teams have more chance of avoiding a season that just peters out
👍There will be more “finals games” due to both divisions having a finals series

Downsides / areas for further analysis

🤔Is the playing base strong enough for two extra teams or conversely, will this encourage a bigger player base?  (I’ve already given my thoughts above but what are yours?)

🤔Clubs will have to discuss financial implications of four week break and also revenue from the Nines circuit.

🤔Having two conferences means unless they end up in the same division, Sydney teams will rarely play certain out-of-Sydney teams. For example, Manly v Newcastle or Roosters v Melbourne have been grand finals of the past and they can’t happen in the “regular” season unless they all make the top division.

🤔The second division is a new concept and there is no precedent in the game with regards to crowds and impact

Give us your thoughts everyone!

Lee Addison is the current Poland Test coach and Spain performance director.  Find him at



  1. Good ideas!
    I’ve been proposing the same 2 conferences but to play your conference twice plus other conference once, which equals 25 games.

    Also, 4 week rep window, should be filled with other 3 match series: NZ v Tonga. Yorkshire v Lanchasire. Among many others

  2. This model of Conference is straight up awful. It makes it that one Conference is just local teams playing each other, minimizing travel costs for them while at the same time potentially becoming boring for the local audience somewhere down the road because the competition becomes a local affair (i.e. bush league); while the other Conference is made up of teams that are spread-out and all the travel exhaustion and travel costs falls on their shoulders.

    What you want to do is have half the Sydney teams in one Conference and the other half of Sydney teams in the other Conference. That way every one gets a relatively fair share of travel between them, and the Sydney teams can play outside teams as well.

    Create this Sydney vs Non-Sydney model and in 2-years everyone’s going to hate it and call it unfair.

  3. I would much rather see a single expanded premiership with relegation as we see with European soccer comps. We have a ready made second tier with strong historic clubs in the qld and nsw cup comps, and the prospect of a crack at the premiership through promotion would provide excitement and relevance to these competitions as well as clearer pathways to top grade footy for kids coming through.


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