View Full Version : Play-offs and ring-fencing etc.
OK, I put finger to keyboard recently and came up with an article on play-offs, wildcards and ring-fencing which has just been published on Planet-Rugby, take a look. It's here (http://www.planet-rugby.com/Opinion/Soapbox/index.shtml).
Oh yes, as we haven't had a poll recently, I thought I'd add one on here - get a bit of interaction going! :D
This bit about Ring-Fencing is something I've always thought was great about the Soccer and Rugby Leagues in the UK. None of this exists over in North America, where even the worst teams stay in the League unless bankruptcy drives them out. It adds an entirely new set of dynamics to the game, and is actually merit-based, whereas most sports revolve around the "Bling-Bling" (that's Snoop Dogg speak for money).
As for playoffs- this is indeed a tough one. Looking over it from my end, all 3 1/2 Major sports in North America (Baseball, basketball, US football, and hockey, which isn't really a MAJOR sport but work with me for now) use a playoff system. For Football this makes sense- teams only play 16 games in a season, and with 30-odd teams they don't play each team both home and away apart from maybe some teams in their own "Division". Not to mention the fact that Football without the Superbowl is like Rugby without Twickenham- it just wouldn't be the same.
Baseball is kind of an anomaly as teams play 163 games a season but, wait for it, only play half the teams in the "League" as there are actually 2 "Leagues" (American and National) with different rules about whether the pitcher (bowler) can bat etc. They've just expanded Inter-League play so the NY Yankees can play the NY Mets, but that's a drop in the bucket. After 163 games there are still 3 rounds of playoffs before a team can win, wait for it again, The World Series...
Onto hockey and basketball- each team will likely play another team at least once, for a total of around 80-85 games in a season. Of the 30-odd teams in these sports, 16 make the playoffs- the top 8 in each conference, and each play a best of 7 series. So a team needs to win 16 more games before winning the Championship, irrespective of their position in the table.
Now, perhaps it is a cultural thing, but hockey without playoffs doesn't make sense to me. I think it's because, once in the playoffs, EVERY GAME COUNTS. It sounds silly, but out of 84 games, you can have a bad day and still make the playoffs. Lose a game in the playoffs however, and you don't have many more chances. That's why relegation is so great (unless you're relegated). A team that sucks the bag in hockey will start planning for the next season only halfway through the current one. In relegation, they're playing their hearts out to stay up in the Dr Martens League!
In my opinion, playoffs are now there as another source of revenue for teams. I don't know if that was always the case, but i think it is now. Do I agree with it in the UK? Well, I've always wondered why there is a Cup and a League in Football? I really can't figure it out. So you win a cup, big deal. I guess it gives a chance for the D3 teams to play big teams, but really how often is a D2 team in the FA Cup final?
That's all i got for now...
I am against ring fencing, iuf you finish top or bottom you should move leagues, the only thing that should stop it is the ground requirements, but they should be reasonable, not extreme.
I also believe that 2 teams should be relegated from each league with a promo for champs and play off between 2 & 5 and 3 & 4.
I believe the leagues should be increased in size to at least 15 teams but pref 18 (this is for all leagues).
I think the current premiership play off should be increased to three Qtr finals then the 2 semis (top team goes straight to semis) and final.
i am not in favour of the wild card finals and everything for the european spots, these should be decided on the league positions like football, I think they have that right (except winners should be able to play in it even if the don't finish within the correct positions).
I think they are heading in the right direction, but I think there is some way to go, it will obvioulsy take years to get there.
Despite being a colleague of Noddy's, and living close to Gloucester, I am a fan (in the ZP) of Wasps for reasons buried in the past. However in 2003 I joined a group of friends and Gloucester supporters at Twickenham to support Gloucester against Wasps simply because I found the play-off format so farcical.
It is all very well for people to say "everybody knows the rules - you only need to be in the top 3". Mixing a knockout format with a league is like mixing chalk and cheese - useless for both writing and eating.
I liked the 8-team knockout they had originally, for a separate Premiership trophy, because it gave everybody something to fight for at the end of the season. I appreciate that they wanted to reduce the number of games for top players (1 game!), but why not a separate Premiership among the top 4 in that case?
I think the only people in favour of ring-fencing are those who are worried about being relegated from the ZP. While I can understand their anxiety and their problems, I do not think those ought to be allowed to shape the game. There are 4 main income streams for the clubs: 'owners', RFU/TV, merchandising, spectators. All will be affected by relegation, but it is very personal for the 'owners'. If they are not prepared to take the risks to gain the glory, they should not get involved. Keith Barwell of Northampton has pointed out that in his first year they appointed Ian McGeechan and got relegated. He says it did not do them any harm ultimately.
It was Grouty in "Porridge" who said, when fixing a boxing match, "I love a gamble. Particluarly when there is no risk attached." Not a good role model.
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