The Indigenous v Maori All Stars match from the weekend was a resounding success, with a 25% increase in the crowd attendance, and 15% increase in TV viewers from the previous year.
(Congrats to the people boycotting it)
Are there ways we can make it bigger and better though?
As a huge fan of US sports and the way they run their competitions, I often look at what they do and how we can incorporate it into the NRL.
One thing I love is how the NFL have 2 weeks between their Championship games and the Super Bowl, allowing for their Pro Bowl and Skills Challenge to be held in between.
Starting the NRL season 1 week earlier and having a 2 week break between the Preliminary Finals and Grand Final, would allow a weekend that the NRL could hold a celebration of rugby league.
With a similar skills challenge (Fastest Man/Woman, Goal Kicking, Passing etc.) and Women’s All Star match on the Friday night, Under 23’s All Star match and NRL All Star match on the Saturday night, and the highlight being the Indigenous v Maori Men’s and Women’s matches on the Sunday.
How big would it be if all this was held at Bankwest Stadium? The place would be packed!
Add the teams involved in the Grand Final with attendances for signing sessions, press conferences etc. and utilise the 2 weeks to pump the Grand Final up even more.
Majority of the Indigenous and Maori players in the Super League could also be involved in the game with their season close to wrapping up at that stage, with most teams eliminated from their finals series.
Downside being that we have players involved in the Grand Final that will be unavailable, but even now that still affects the players in England for the World Club Challenge.
Either way I hope the NRL look at ways to make this game one of the highlight pieces of our game, as it sure has become entertaining as hell.