The Tuesday NRL Rubdown – The Dr’s Top 5 from Round 7

Speaka da Inglis?

The Daily Telegraph asks:

“Is it more important to protect NRL stars from foul play or risk ruining “the spectacle” by sending a player from the field?”

What’s being lost in translation here? Because it’s hard to believe this question is even being asked. In an era of third party liability where falling off the monkey bars is grounds for a lawsuit, when does the NRL begin to appreciate its legal commitments and duty of care?

Failing to use the send-off for a second spear tackle on Greg Inglis on Friday was a monumental mistake. Talking about ‘ruining the spectacle’, or even the suggestion of replacing dismissed players, have no place in a rational discussion. Particularly in 2013.

If coaches allow players to engage such practices without personal sanction, then they deserve to face the consequence of being a player short.

Rugby league is big business more than ever before, and handicapping yourself is bad business.

It’s time for the NRL to stand up and activate one of those management silos.

Sin Bins and Concrete Boots

The Sin Bin is being talked about as if it is some new invention. Yet, 95% of respondents to an online survey agree it should be used, and our referees Messiah can only agree that it’s in the rule book. Welcome to the proactive world of the NRL.

The survey doesn’t mention yellow and red cards, but why they are not being used is a mystery.

Further, restricting the Sin Bin to professional fouls, and not foul play, is just dense.

Daniel Anderson claims to not be in concrete loafers with respect to making changes, but the evidence is to the contrary. He and the NRL are slow to act, slow to react, and unimpressive in identifying key principles on which to build their approach.

So he’s going to ‘table it’ this Thursday to the Competition Committee? The 2nd of May, 2013 … Round 8 …? You have to be joking. It’s 2012 all over again.

Penalties – are they increasing?

PenaltiesDespite the claim that penalties are increasing across the competition, the evidence suggests otherwise. That is, there is no systematic trend to speak of. Consider:

– The first 3wks each had over 100 penalties blown, averaging 111 per week and peaking in Round 2 at 121.
– The following 3wks were all under 100, the lowest being 84 in Round 4 and averaging 89. You might say penalties were systematically ‘decreasing’.
– Last week’s aggregate penalty count of 124 stands out against the prior 3wks, but is near enough the same as Round 2.
– Moreover, the fortnightly moving average sits at 107 vs a weekly average of 103.

Conclusion: penalties aren’t systematically increasing.

Roosters – Myth or Reality?

The poor old Roosters are a team that NRL supporters love to hate, much like Manly for many years. This year’s performances are therefore being greeted with scepticism. After all, they’ve only played the bludgers, right?

It is quite clear they have improved each week, and since steeping up a gear or three in Round 4, they have averaged 36 points per match. They can only play what is in front of them, and they have been impressively dominant and business-like, quite unlike Roosters teams of recent years.

The Rabbitohs in Round 1 was a tough initiation for an almost completely new structure, and they were taught what Top-4 footy is all about. Since then, they have conceded just 8 points per game. Anyone unhappy about that is hard to please.

Moreover, despite that loss, and the surprising late loss to the Raiders, the Roosters score only 1 point less than the Storm per match on average (and who are unbeaten), and concede 4 less – ie. Their ‘For & Against’ is the best in the NRL.Top 8 For and Against

In fact, they are either first or second place in such metrics as defence, line breaks, errors and tries.

Roosters fans can rest easy. They are Top-4 all the way.

Notice the Knights in the chart above? They won’t be under the radar for long.

Basic skills

JabberjawSharks aren’t well suited to passing the ball. A lack of opposable thumbs on their flippers is a dead giveaway.

Still, even Jabberjaw might have made a better fist of the classic draw and pass than Stapleton and Pomeroy could muster on the weekend. It literally cost them the game.

Passing 10 metres in front of the man you are trying to draw is bad enough, but passing the ball along the ground or 5 metres behind your support is never going to meet with success.

As a thought, it you smashed these two into Ben Roberts in the Large Hadron Collider at 99.9% the speed of light, might we discover the long theorised ‘clown particle’?

Aside from the issue that coach Shane Flanaghan would prefer to deliver these two to ASADA with a ‘Do Not Return’ sticker is the broader issue of basic skills in the game (recall the Roosters having similar disasters in the first few rounds).

The modern player is a colossus of chiselled muscle and endurance, but has athleticism taken away from practicing fundamentals and basic skills?

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NRL 180 – Where the Game needs to change direction

My last journey to the blogosphere left cautious ‘good luck’ wishes to NRL CEO David Smith’s management restructure, while imparting some advice to get the core principles right, and to remember that the long run is a series of short runs.

Bumbling fiascos like City-Country cannot occur along the way, lest you muddy the true path to excellence with side roads and detours.

But then I got to thinking. A seven siloed management structure sure looks pretty, and could well work, so I’m prepared to wait and see on that score. But what is the direction for the game?

None of the assembled media thought to ask Greenberg at last week’s announcement (or since) to outline his vision for the game, and how he would take us there. That is a major oversight, and I for one would have truly liked to have heard him (or Smith) identify where he saw issues that needed addressing, and how he intended to approach fixing them.

Surely they’re not making this all up until he plants his size 10s under the desk in August? Greg Inglis will have been dumped on his head another 454 times by then.

Examples of core principles (amongst many) requiring attention are the standard of refereeing and the judiciary.

Paul Kent (who I enjoy reading and listening to) was quite wrong on the standard of refereeing on NRL 360 last week. They are atrocious, and the NRL needs to do a complete 180 on this issue. If it’s not blatant forward passes, it is inconsistency, both of which are turning games given the high standard of competition, and not to mention the unclear place for the video referee in general play.

We then have the situation (to name but one) on Friday night where the game’s most marquee player is spear tackled twice by the same person, Richie Fa’aoso. The very same person who blindsided a player with an illegal shoulder charge just weeks ago, caused a severe concussion, and yet was allowed by an insipid judiciary easily distracted by big words and shiny objects to downgrade the charge.

The first spear tackle was bad enough. The second was a clear send-off offence.

Referee’s boss Daniel Anderson, who tried unsuccessfully to hold off the criticism surrounding his awful obstruction rule, then proceeded to defend his referees. Well he’s wrong again.

Have they forgotten Krisnan Inu’s spear tackle on Inglis for which he received a five week suspension and the media storm surrounding it? Are they incapable of learning? Do they not recognise the unnecessary danger of paraplegia or quadriplegia, or just severe head injury?

And it all happened the same week as suspended referee Gerard Sutton, who miraculously missed Danny Buderus’ jaw-breaking shoulder charge in round 3, returned. Oh, the irony.

Here’s a freebie to the NRL – give Richie a yellow card (plus the report) for the spear tackle if you don’t send him off. The second yellow card for the second spear tackle is a red card, and then it’s good night Irene. Or, you could just do your job and send him off.

It is elegantly simple.

Another (major) issue to ponder is that head contact is head contact. Whatever its source. Contact with the ground from a spear tackle would qualify just as nicely as a stiff arm or shoulder charge. As I have written before, this will go very ‘legal’ if the NRL continues to avoid its duty of care.

And the confounding thing about all of it is that it is so easy to fix.

Blue Sky Mining on Dave and Todd’s Excellent Adventure

David Smith has been labeled many things since he began his tenure as NRL CEO. The most recent by respected rugby league journalists and club executives are ‘aloof’ and ‘inaccessible’.

The first point to make is that he doesn’t work for the media, who have been spoiled by CEOs-past. Removing their life support system has annoyed some journalists accustomed to such access, and club CEOs interested in getting an adge. Get over it.

Secondly, his aloofness reflects the fact that he simply doesn’t have as much to say as past CEOs, not a superiority complex. Why? He’s still learning the game, what it is really all about, who the stakeholders are, which radio hosts to avoid and so on. Overexposure by media at this point is a less than zero sum game for him, and banking executives know all about zero sum games!

The target of ire should be the management team in total, not specifically David Smith.

Having made preventable errors and rookie mistakes, he has now unveiled what is being termed a complete overhaul of the NRL management structure, splitting the team into seven reporting units.

Curiously, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi were also present at the press briefing

Curiously, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi were also present at the press briefing

He was also at pains to highlight this was his decision, not the Commission’s (a reference to the highly believable and persistent view that John Grant hired a CEO with no knowledge of the game in an effort to retain a certain amount of control).

The NRL now has a very different management model, at least optically – the silo model. Much like an investment bank, funnily enough! Delegation is an art …

Heads of Equities, Fixed Income, Futures & Options and M&A are replaced with titles such as Heads of Football, Finance, Operations and Marketing, amongst others.

Head of Atrocities and Spin wasn’t listed, though I’m sure that’s an oversight.

But is the silo model a good thing, or a cosmetic attempt to place a new buffer zone of people in front of the media other than David Smith? He clearly wants to manage, but is it managing a management team or the game?

And does anyone think for a second that areas such as Finance or Marketing or Strategy were unstaffed in the first place?

The biggest news was parachuting in Bulldogs’ CEO Todd Greenberg to be Head of Football.

In a way, you could argue that he is the third football CEO in a year since John Grant and the Commission took over, which is a poor record.

Greenberg’s knowledge of the game and ‘Club land’ is extensive, and his ability to communicate externally with media and internal stakeholders are key attributes. He has extensive contacts with an ear to the ground and should be expected to make a good fist of the role.

But the timing is still a little odd.

Beginning in August is a sensible move given that the Bulldogs won’t be playing in September, but recall that he had been interviewed for the CEO role last year, and would have been a superior choice at that time. Yet, after dropping out at the final hurdle, he is back in a position of less responsibility effectively beginning at the end of the home and away season.

The timing suggests that there is far more going on at the Bulldogs than rumours of a split with the coach or the early season hiccups of Ben Barba. And don’t their performances just ooze disharmony?

The Dr likes the idea of a ‘grand plan’ such as David Smith’s, and ever since Stephen Hawking told him that negative particles are sucked into black holes, but positively charged ones are ejected as radiation, he tries to be more positive too!

So good luck, David, making your new team first grade material and mining the blue sky. You will be heavily scrutinised, and rightly so.

Get the core principles right, and remember, the long run is a series of short runs. Basically, don’t stuff up simple things like City-Country again on the way to nirvana.

Oh, and implement the Dr’s rules suggestions. You can thank me later. That way we can keep the blue sky mining boom going …

Taking the Country out of City-Country

Coffs Harbour’s BCU International Stadium is promoted as being a “first class sporting facility hosting local, regional, national and international sporting events.”

“As one of Coffs Harbour’s most valuable and best used assets, BCU International Stadium caters for a range of sport and entertainment, providing an international standard facility.”Sydney Swan v St Kilda AFL Match 12 March 2011

The City Council website also boasts seating for 20,000 spectators as one of the stadium’s key attributes.

So you can imagine how surprising it was to find out that the crowd that for this annual event was just 4,645. If someone had simply read the crowd number aloud, my natural response would have been to say it was a shame about the first set, but is the second on serve? And was this a smaller or larger crowd than the one attending the Australian Sikh Games in 2009?

What can we learn from such a poor turnout, other than some sections of the media have only just discovered a crowd problem?

Clearly, most of the local markets had finished by 2pm, so they weren’t direct competition for the Coffs dollar, though the Annual Exhibition of Fine Woodwork didn’t finish until 4pm, so the jury might still be out.

Recent posts on improving rugby league crowd numbers, as well as where the annual City-Country fixture actually sits within the game, have proven extremely timely.

While those on the City side of the equation have been debating the validity of the concept in an unedifying and self-absorbed way for weeks now, country residents had a chance to respond in numbers. The fact that they didn’t is a major concern. Like the Wagga example from last week where the NRL allowed the AFL a five year window to ingratiate themselves with the locals, it’s easy to understand the country’s disaffection brought about by questioning the game’s value, and which manifested in yesterday’s today’s crowd.

At its most base level, City-Country is the recognition of country rugby league as a nursery for the great players of yesteryear and today, as well as the issue of propagating the game. It is a useful vehicle for assessing Origin potential (and Hoffman, Mason, Reynolds and Maloney took advantage of that), but that is a secondary benefit.

Ticket prices were another factor. They were entirely inappropriate for residents of waterfront Sydney Harbour, let alone Coffs Harbour. And there are no investment bankers up there either. Paying $75 for a family general admission ticket is preposterous when the Anzac Day match at Allianz Stadium is $55. A $50 uncovered seat dubbed ‘the Eastern Stand’ is a bit rich. The only people getting a bargain were those under four years of age (or Shahid Afridi with a dodgy birth certificate).

The ends of the field were also sparsely populated ...

The ends of the field were also sparsely populated …

Further, the promotion of the event was hijacked by negative publicity and player withdrawals. This latter point was discussed last week, but the point remains that the NRL did not do enough to counteract it. When sightings of the two most powerful NRL/ARLC officials are on a par with those of Elvis, you know there’s a problem.

If the NRL can’t nurture its own constituency, one questions how they hope to enhance and grow the game. From the micro issues relating to the rules of the game, moving through best business practices and onto the macro issues of expanding the game, the NRL and ARLC are falling woefully short.

In the NRL there is a well understood concept that teams have to ‘earn the right’ to spin the ball wide by laying a solid foundation in the middle of the park. The NRL might do well to keep their management practices equally simple, rather than banging on about jumping castles and off-field entertainment.

Those who actually understand economics appreciate that demand leads supply, not the reverse. Likewise, the best business managers understand that they need to listen to their customers, and then respond. Providing something nobody wants gets nobody very far.

The public are sending messages to the NRL and ARLC, but they’re not listening.

It’s a shame to have to always repeat that the game succeeds despite itself, but there you go, I just did it again. The problem is that there are clearer and more present dangers for the NRL with respect to competition for the sporting dollar. They can’t mismanage this way forever.

T’is a sad day …

Australia vs New Zealand: The Dr’s Top 5 from Last Night’s NRL International

There are many things to note about last night’s match. Here are the five most interesting to me:

Tommy W

The first is an off-the-ball incident, but forces its way into the Top 5 with a bullet … Tom Waterhouse has been much maligned for his performances on Channel 9 so far this NRL season. However, he made went some way to rectifying it last night with comedy gold. His gaffe when reporting the odds for City/Country is up there with the best, and as the poster in the office kitchen says, a good belly-laugh is worth 10 minutes on the rowing machine! Thank you Tom, I did an hour on the not-rowing machine.

Poor Penetration, Completions and Errors

The attacking thrust of the Kiwis was poor in the first half hour in particular, and their defence didn’t make up for it, sowing the seeds of what was to come. The Aussies had far more penetration, carrying the ball over 9-metres per run to the Kiwis’ 7-metres in that time. It was quite evident to see on the vision. This chewed up energy over the course of the game as they were forced to clock more miles, up and back, up and back …

Now, provided a team can stay close or ahead on the scoreboard and fortune falls their way, they can overcome it. The Warriors almost did it to the Raiders with far less favourable stats last week, though they led for most of that match. But the moment the opposition receives favourable rulings or is able to pull away, that tiredness can result in quick points.

While this ‘ball-carry’ gap narrowed slightly for the next 20-25 minutes, it ended the match at 1.7-metres. Further, at 7.6-metres per run, it is well below the lowest in the NRL (Bulldogs at 8-metres average). It seems irrelevant, but it’s not, and 4 Tries in less than 10 minutes was the result.

A completion rate that would also be the lowest in the NRL, and an error count 50% higher than the NRL average are not the ways to overcome poor attacking thrust.

The right and wrong side of the referee

Speaking of good fortune, the Kiwis really didn’t have the rub of the green either, and couldn’t make up for the absence of some of their big names who will make them a very different proposition in the World Cup.

Whaddya mean that was a knock-on?!

C’monnnn … that was a knock-on!!!

For example, Hodges’ knock-on on the try line led to a bizarre penalty to the Aussies, the Inglis try could just as easily have been ruled obstruction, and a dropped bomb by Perrett, which went backwards, saw the ball turned over to the Aussies in a great attacking position. Points and pressure were not going their way.

Look out NSW!

Justin Hodges try near the end was a classic – CLASSIC – Queensland try. It was pure hunger to get the ball, and nothing was left to chance in the effort to score. With State of Origin around the corner, NSW have immediately been put on notice.

GallenThe Great Gallen

What’s going on with Gallen? He continues to run like a steam train and defend like a brick wall. But now he’s popping balls here, he’s popping them there. Putting team mates through gaps like a a sneaky halfback has never been his strong suit, but he looks to have added this to his game. Was he channelling Gavin Miller or something? Surely he can’t be getting better?

Representative Games, Reprehensible Actions

Remember this team? ... So long ago ...

Remember this team? … So long ago …

Is it a Gen Y thing that being selected for representative honours seems to be regarded as a chore? Or is there something deeper going on? The City withdrawals are pretty much half the NSW Origin team, which raises flags all over the place.

The annual City-Country fixture has been bled try of its status as an explicit selection trial for State of Origin over the course of several years. The reason this is a problem has nothing to do with Origin, per se.

The issue is that it detracts from the real reason this match is played in the first place – to recognise and support Country Rugby League.

Nobody wants to see City-Country become a city-slicker version of Kurri vs Cessnock. The NRL Commission needs to right many of the wrongs, principally a lack of interest, perpetrated against the CRL over the years. To express shock last year when Wagga announced it would pay the GWS AFL franchise to host matches and promotions in the town was breathtaking.

As the Wagga Mayor said at the time, “We met with a representative from the NRL about five years ago, when Wagga Leagues Club folded and the main ground, Eric Weissel Oval, and the junior fields closed … But we haven’t seen them since.”

The failure to nurture the ‘grass roots’ of the game regionally makes it harder to believe that the national and international directions of the game are in safe keeping. One can only hope a worthy share of the TV rights deal makes its way to the CRL.

But again, there is silence from the NRL on the idea that teams take a home game each to ‘the bush’. It’s not a new idea, and on the surface looks like a no-brainer, and an easy way to keep the CRL and its fans engaged in the NRL rather than other codes. It could certainly more than replace the annual City-Country match because it would show a commitment to the bush, as well as provide a regular taste of top class rugby league.

The reason it doesn’t happen can likely be traced back to the very $1 billion deal that is supposed to help sustain rugby league in the country. The game is more about money now than it ever has been, and the crowds in Orange, or Bathurst or Wagga aren’t big enough for teams who can’t afford lower gate receipts. Perhaps some subsidisation can get 15 ‘home’ matches to move to the country. That’s an awful lot of good will!

Further, players understand that their clubs, through the rights deal and the escalating salary cap, are their bread and butter. Why risk injury in a City-Country game that doesn’t count for Origin? That is the message that is coming through loud and clear.

Taking regular games to the country also means that all players, not just from NSW, will be on show because they are regular Telstra Premiership matches. This isn’t Cricket Australia where players get rested! How much more entertaining to see all of the stars like SBW, JT, Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk and more.

Ben Ikin said on NRL 360 last night that “The ARL Commission is only 1-year old …”, as if that is some defence. Well, that’s plenty old enough to have achieved a great deal more than crow about a TV rights deal that had been organised before they arrived. They haven’t even spun the wheels in so many areas. Time to get out of the mud.

Reprehensible Actions

Jeremy SmithThe NRL judiciary is to be applauded for refusing to downgrade the Jeremy Smith head slam tackle over the weekend. It was an ugly tackle that was capable of causing more serious injury than it actually did.

Head contact is an issue the NRL/ARLC has not dealt with effectively at all, but is beginning to address. If players cannot see, and do not want to participate in, the direction the League is taking, then they will be watching from the stands more often. Learning the hard way is necessary for some. And when it begins to affect their earning capacity (as it should), it’s amazing how quick that happens.

It’s a shame for the Knights, who miss an intimidating, hard-working player. But players who insist on making these types of tackles, late hits and head contact generally, need to have the book thrown at them.

The NRL judiciary got this one right, but if that’s the case, they clearly got Fa’aoso (1wk) and Krisnan Inu (5wks) wrong. Both should clearly have got more, particularly Inu’s spear tackle. I thought that had gone out of style along with the coat-hanger, squirrel grip and eye gouge.

Two’s Company, But 20,000 is a Real Crowd! – Exploring ‘Dynamic’ Ways to Increase NRL Crowds

Few things get the Dr’s heart pumping faster than a heaving rugby league crowd. The swSFS packedearing, the grannies knitting beanies (then swearing), the pungent and ubiquitous odour de body, the cramped seats and referee abuse (while swearing) all coalesce to form what is known as ‘atmosphere’.

A cursory look into the coaches’ boxes reveals a microcosm of the humanity outside. It really doesn’t get much better.

Actually, it could be better. The crowds could be larger, even though they are over 5% higher this year on a ‘like’ basis. The dull drone of an 8,000 strong crowd is hardly captivating, and usually ends in the Dr maniacally signing a handful of prescriptions – for himself. But 20,000 plus screaming souls, and now you’re getting a buzz!

Last week’s lament that blockbuster matches were set to fall disappointingly short of expectations (and lived up to them) was followed by Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson suggesting the NRL take the AFL approach of making bums on seats a KPI (Key performance Indicator).

The NRL has been painfully slow to recognise the virtues of other codes, especially AFL. And this is a shame, really. Incorporating the best rules from other sports (where applicable) is the key to the expansion of the game. It is smart and it is proactive, and would prove that if a chook raffle needed organising at any point, someone within the bowels of the NRL could be reliably called upon to run it.

Yet, Richardson is absolutely correct in stating that rugby league crowds need to improve in order to sustain the game. How can this be done?

The dynamic duo of crowds and cash

US Major League baseball, beginning with the San Francisco Giants in 2009, has been using a dynamic ticket-pricing system akin to those used in airlines in order to attract more spectators to each game, and to improve revenue flow. The idea is a simple one: price stadium tickets according to the actual demand for them. It is a model that the NRL could explore as a general guideline.

As the Harvard Business Review points out, 17 out of the 30 US Major League baseball teams priced entry tickets in this way as of last year, and more will do so this year. Maybe even the Yankees will get there one day, considering other organisations such as the New York Opera, amongst others, use this method now.

Contrary to pricing aircraft tickets, where fares tend to increase closer to flight time, and upon which the system is based, the process should (generally) work toward lower prices as in some areas of the stadium as the game approaches. This occurs because stadiums are usually at less than full capacity. It makes perfect sense because selling a ticket for any price beats not selling one at all, but if you want to get all nerdy, go ahead and cosy up to the academic research.

But did it work? And can it work in the NRL?

Baseball franchises have reported improving revenues from pricing in this way, which was actually their primary objective. Premium prices actually went up for the marquee match-ups. The follow-on benefit to the fans was participating in a larger crowd at a lower price.

Now, the NRL clearly plays nowhere near the 162 games the baseball franchises do in a season, and games are scheduled around the more spectator-friendly weekends. This in itself reduces the swings in demand for tickets which may make dynamic pricing a sub-optimal strategy. However, the usual factors still apply: who is the opposition; what’s the weather like; how’s my team doing; is it a day or night match; is it a Monday night? And so on.

And I think it’s fair to say that the average working-class NRL supporter would bristle at the idea that some prices might go up.

The season ticket holder would also think twice were some Johnny-come-lately blow-in to sit next to him for half price. The system as it stands takes account of ‘like’ seats, and doesn’t price below the season ticket holders in their area (otherwise why bother?). Any sporting team needs to make money to survive, but they also need to take care in engaging fans, not alienating them.

Tiering pricing

Imagine the SFS, the best viewing stadium the game possesses, hosting one of its home teams vs a relatively unsuccessful out-of-towner. Wouldn’t all involved, from team management right down to the players, prefer a crowd of 20,000 (plus) rather than 12,000 in a 40,000-capacity venue? Would that not provide a more memorable and uplifting experience?

Perusing pricing for the Rooster / Panthers match as a neat example of a likely modest crowd, it’s pretty clear there are only 3 tiers (also called variable pricing) – Premium ($45 for an adult) and Standard Reserved ($33) or General Admission ($25). Whatever the stadium wants to call the variations of them, these are the 3 tiers available.

For a start, why only 3 tiers? The SF Giants already have dynamic pricing for 20 different seating areas. Surely the NRL can at least vary pricing with a little more imagination, even before considering the benefits, or not, of dynamic pricing?

The rational man (who?!?) would presumably pay more for half-way seats than he would 20-metre line, cascading downward for corners and goalpost areas. Then you have the different levels. There is no reason why there shouldn’t already be 8-10 price variations. I like this as a starting point. It would be nice to see the ends of the fields populated. It will happen at Thursday’s Anzac Day match, but the same can’t be said for the Roosters / Panthers.

SFS emptyLow crowd numbers makes for a rather dull and flat experience. But imagine those less than optimal positions were priced at say, 2/3rds of the General Admission price, or half. What if the General Admission was also lowered another $5? Pretty soon you’re attracting the marginal fan, or the cash-strapped fan, who sees value in making the effort to attend a live sporting event. Before you know it, the lower price (and perhaps even a food voucher attached to it) is more than being offset by crowd numbers. This is the part where everybody wins!

Perhaps the best approach begins and ends with a thorough examination of the permutations of variable pricing, something which is far simpler to implement and model.

It’s food for thought, in any case, and a conversation that needs to happen. There are many corollary issues to bear in mind once embarking down this path, but what the NRL are doing right now (and I’m not sure what that is) is clearly not working to engage fans.

Note to the NRL: I will do this for half the fee you part with to construct the draw 