Hey guys, was thinking about our discussion earlier and thought I'd put it into a piece. Will be published over at 'theroar.com.au' later today or tomorrow. Let me know what you think. The case for a Union style Tri Nations in League In the lead up to this year’s state of origin I wrote an article suggesting a restructure of the season that put Origin after the NRL, and then finished the season with a Tri Nations tournament. The logic was fairly straightforward; remove Origin’s disruption of the NRL by placing it at the end of a shortened season (22 week round robin, starting at the end of February). From a player and club welfare perspective, it’s a very rational approach to structuring the game, but with over 4 million people tuning into view both of the first two Wednesday night Origin matches, we sadly won’t see any review of the format for fear that rescheduling will somehow reduce interest in the games. Nevertheless, there is still scope for doing something about the international season, so I thought I’d expand a little on the call in my original article to dump the current League approach to the respective Tri Nations/Four Nations in favour of the origin SANZAR Tri Nations model. In League’s previous Tri Nations setup, the big three teams would play each-other twice in League table in one host country, and then the top two would play a “final”. This was then tweaked with the introduction of the Four Nations, so that each side played one game against each other before playing the final to decide the trophy winner. As I stated in my original article, this entire structure is poorly thought out to the point where it almost hurts the game. There are three structural errors that have been made along the way contribute to this in my view. But on a fundamental level all of these stem from one common error: deciding TN/4N would be organised essentially like a World Cup. First, the organisers began by deciding the competition would be played in a single “host country/region”. For a massive and rare event like a World Cup, having a host country makes sense; people don’t see it very often and there are too many teams to do it any differently. In addition, this size and rarity mean that having it in one place adds a sort of festival atmosphere to the whole affair. None of these ingredients exist for a small annual event like the TN/4N. All it does is ensure that there is almost no parochialism and atmosphere for a significant portion of the limited number of games on offer. Moreover, it limits the interest and accessibility of the tournament for general sports fans to one time zone. Second, having a final in a competition with as many teams as a single group in most world cup tournaments makes about as much sense as playing a three test series and having the final match decide the trophy winner irrespective of the result of the first two games. You can see what they’re trying to do: create hype by having a match called a “final”. But it doesn't work because the size of the competition just doesn't provide enough time or competitors to build up any excitement or interest in a "final" match to differentiate it from the pool games. Third and final, the decision to introduce a ‘minnow’ by expanding it to a Four Nations doesn't work. Again, having minnows play in tournaments is something that makes sense at a World Cup, because it’s a large festival for the sport and it’s designed to give smaller teams some exposure to the big stage whilst crowing a genuine world champion. But having a minnow like PNG, France, or Wales play in a tournament like the Four Nations just ends in them being treated like a punching bag/training team for the big sides. There are no teams of their calibre in the competition, so why are they there at all? Let’s be clear too, including the likes of Wales or PNG is not like including Italy in the 6 Nations or Argentina in the Rugby Championship. Those are teams with genuine and relatively strong local competitions and are actually capable of the odd upset even if they’re not major contenders. This is more akin to SANZAR deciding to expand to their current Rugby Championship format by including the Uruguay Rugby team. All of this makes the competition seem like a halfway house; neither league nor knock-out competition, and it undermines the international game as a result. A far better option is to do what SANZAR did in the beginning and play a home and away league, crowning the league leader as champion at the end, whilst having individual trophies for each opponent. That way, every year outside of world cups, we’d get to see games at home against the major teams – guaranteeing matches in our time zone - and there’d be no pointless games against teams of amateurs that have no chance of doing anything other than possibly injuring a star play from the big three. In terms of organisation, I think the notion of shortening the NRL and SL a little should still hold, and that the final matches should be England’s home games, so that they’re played in cooler conditions as it starts heating up in the South Hemisphere. That way the completion could start in the South Hemisphere at the beginning of October, and finish in England in November. All in all, it would make for a much more balanced competition, and one that was marketable in all three countries every year.