Bears, Jets and a radical path to NRL revolution

Bears, Jets and a radical path to NRL revolution

BRING back the North Sydney Bears and, while we’re at it, the Newtown Jets. And do it without affecting the quality of the NRL competition.

The future of rugby league has been the subject of much debate around conferences, expansion, a lopsided competition and the survival of bush footy.

One option the NRL should consider is promotion and relegation like in European soccer. Relegate two clubs to have a streamlined 14-team NRL premiership and a 10-team Championship (2nd division.)

Here’s how it would work.


The two-conference proposal first raised seven years ago in this newspaper will not improve the standard of the product each week.

It will actually make it worse in that there are not enough quality football players to fill 16 teams, let alone 18.

The gap between the top and bottom teams is too great.

Reducing the number of teams will create a much stronger NRL competition with fewer blowouts and more regular blockbusters.

Players that aren’t quite first graders can join a Championship team.


There would be as much interest in the bottom end of the ladder as the top.

Lower teams would be as desperate to avoid relegation as top clubs would be to make the finals.

It would add huge interest late in the season to games that are normally dead rubbers.

This will surely increase the quality of football, attendances and television ratings.

Imagine the interest if St George Illawarra was playing Wests Tigers and needed to win to avoid relegation in the final round.


The bottom two teams on the premiership ladder would initially drop to the Championship.

Then the bottom team each year would be relegated.

It sounds harsh and would no doubt be met with outrage by fans of underperforming NRL clubs like the Wests Tigers, Canterbury or even Cronulla.

However tough and not always fan-friendly calls need to be made.

Uncompetitive teams on the receiving end of blowouts each week are hurting the quality of the NRL competition.

Let them go back to the Championship, get their house in order, then try to make it back through better management.

This will force them to think smarter and run a business as well as clubs like the Roosters, Rabbitohs, Storm and Parramatta.


So what happens to the star NRL players from the clubs that are demoted?

The players could be lent to clubs in the NRL competition. Like Storm, the Wests Tigers and Harry Grant last year. It can be done. The promoted Championship club each year would get first crack in a draft for these players.


Imagine the excitement around a fairytale return for traditional old clubs like the North Sydney Bears and the Newtown Jets.

While these clubs at the moment are nowhere near in a position to be running an NRL side, this at least leaves the door slightly ajar for it to happen in the future.

Both clubs still have enormous fan bases.

The Championship 10-team competition would also put rugby league back on the NSW Central Coast. This is a thriving rugby league region but lacks enough corporate support to have an NRL franchise. This would change if they won the Championship.

It would also be a way to help new expansion clubs like a second Brisbane and New Zealand team to get their introductions into a professional environment.

Teams would have a salary cap of $4 million.


This would give country football the lift and revitalisation it so desperately needs.

The side could be based out of the Riverina, (population 155,000) and once rugby league heartland before the AFL steamrolled into Wagga Wagga.

It could be a satellite team playing home games in country towns like Dubbo, Bathurst, Mudgee, Tamworth, Armidale and Coffs Harbour but the majority of games out of the Riverina.

It would mean high quality rugby league in the bush every weekend.

Youngsters in country towns would dream of making the side and getting TV exposure along a pathway to the NRL.


Having two competitions would allow the NRL to spread the coverage of the game around the TV networks, like what happens with major sport in the United States.

All Championship matches would be covered on TV as well as NRL games.

The match of the round could become a regular Wednesday-night game on Fox Sports.


Peter V’landys has always said he will listen to the fans.

This is fantastic. However you can’t be completely driven by the parochialism of rugby league supporters. There will be initial pain but tough decisions need to be made in big business and in sport.

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Good idea, all for it.

The 2 divisions have different salary caps.
It involves player drafts & player loans, it won’t work.

Thought the two conference idea was bad, but this is madness.


Spoiler: it wouldn’t.

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I like the concept but cannot see how a club could survive, let alone be competitive if promoted, in the 2nd division.

As for a NSW country team I cannot see how it would work. It would need a base, say Orange for the sake of it. This is needed to gather the players for training etc. Doesn’t that make it an Orange team? Its a bit like the Warriors are Auckland, not NZ, THE Cowboys are Townsville not NQ and Roosters are Easts, not Sydney. Can any NSW country sound support a fulltime professional team?

I am not saying the 2 divisions cannot work. Or the conferences for that matter, I just think that if it is not done 100% properly it will send some clubs down the gurgler. Of the 2 ideas I prefer the divisions. However the optimum for me is a 20 team single round comp with a points based cap to level the clubs and recognition of juniors built into that cap to grow the player talent pool.

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I’m always suspect when I read things like, “no more blowouts” “Huge interest in bottom placed teams”
“Better quality games” and some such.

How do they know that ?? Simply, they don’t so, they’re just propagandising us, the plebs.

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An idea formulated and written on the back of a beer-stained cardboard coaster by Buzz in the waiting room of Stilletos brothel.


Super League: Mark II


As long as Regional teams don’t fall into the bottom relegated teams

As anyone from Queensland would say

Imagine the outry if the Broncos got relegated last year


I know it’s not apples for apples but, in the past, Chelsea, Manchester City and Man United have been relegated in the EPL…

Imagine how much money it would cost to stage a second tier championship with teams all over Australia and NZ? The flights and accommodation for NRL teams and support staff is incredibly expensive as it is.
This new 2nd comp would be lucky to draw a couple of thousand supporters to a game.
I think a second tier works in smaller countries like England, France, Spain, Netherlands where travel time is not so extreme or costly- just need a team bus. I can’t imagine it working here.
Would be interesting to find out how much something like this would cost though, and where the teams might come from.


I agree. That’s why I say we’re being propagandised. There’s also no way a team who is brought up from the lower comp will ever draw enough Corporate Dollars to make a serious fist of it once they get there.
The teams that are relegated will never get out of the secondary comp. IMO this idea will only guarantee that we’ll have 4-6 strong rich clubs and the rest will be also rans.
Also, the secondary comp will have 50 people turning up to games just like the lower comp does now.
All the projected interest is just gossamer imo

The Qld Cup teams draw reasonable crowds I understand, I Western Division team would also draw decent crowds in the country centres, Mudgee, Bathurst, Tamworth etc. Bears and Jets would the concerns, they couldn’t play out of their traditional grounds with out costly upgrades.

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There’s a lot of good thought put into this proposal but it wouldn’t work. I lived in England and saw the effect it had on a winning Championship soccer team promoting them to the EPL, the cost was massive, the scramble for EPL players and then if they weren’t successful then they were demoted next season and struggled to pay off the extra debt and readjust to lesser quality football.

There are enough quality players for 18 teams. Having them stuck in NSW cup is actually holding them back and grading them, while there may a few bumps will bring them along, besides it will be same for all. It will actually encourage development of juniors rather then just buying other first graders thereby reducing the overpayment of current players.

Not a fan at all, this will only make the strong teams stronger and the bottom teams will just struggle going up and down.

I remember to well what it was like when we were not in the NRL and would hate to feel that again because we had a bad year.

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It’s a terrible idea that would bankrupt a club after one bad year

You get relegated - goodbye sponsorships, hello board turmoil, coach sackings, players wanting out etc.

Broncos would have been relegated last year. That should be enough to tell you NRL and Nine would never let it happen


The same 3 or 4 teams win the EPL every year, that’s a pretty good indication the relegation / promotion system doesn’t work.

Not sure Australia has the population to support a multi-tier league system.
The reason why it works in Europe is that every little town - sometimes even every neighborhood - have their own soccer team, so the depth is staggering.
Seems to me the NRL has too many teams already, 12 might be the best number.