Finals Systems

From 1908 to 1994, teams could not be excluded from the finals by points difference, and a mid week playoff (or playoffs) were held to decide the semi-finalists. With the expansion of the finals in 1995, playoffs were discontinued, and points difference (points scored minus points conceded) became the tie breaker.


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Finals System


9 4

Top 4 played an extra round, the most competition points played the decider.


8 2

Top 2 played the decider (ROC)

8-9 1 Most competition points - in the event of a tie, a playoff for the title.
8-10 4 Week 1
- 1 v 3 (A)
- 2 v 4 (B)
Loser(B) eliminated.

Week 2
- 1 v Winner(B) or
- 3 v Winner(B) (C)
If 1 wins in Game(A), it plays Winner(B) in the Final. A win here for 1 secures the title, a loss requires a Grand Final between the same sides to decide the Premiers.
If 1 loses in Game(A), 3 plays Winner(B) for the right to play 1 in the Grand Final

Week 3
- 1 v Winner(C)
Only played If 1 loses in Week 1 or 2 (Known as the Right Of Challenge), it ensured the minor premier had to appear in the deciding game)
1954-72 12 4

Week 1
- 1 v 2 (A)
- 3 v 4 (B)
Loser(B) eliminiated.

Week 2
- Loser(A) v Winner(B) (C)
- Loser(C) eliminiated.

Week 3
- Winner(A) v Winner(C)

1973-81 12 5

Week 1
- 2 v 3 (A)
- 4 v 5 (B)
Loser(B) eliminated.

Week 2
- Loser(A) v Winner(B) (C)
- 1 v Winner(B) (D)
Loser(C) eliminated

Week 3
- Loser(D) v Winner(C) (E)
Loser(E) elimnated

Week 4
- Winner(D) v Winner(E)

1982-83 14 5

Same as above

1984-87 13 5

Same as above

1988-94 16 5

Same as above

20 8

Two groups of four (1,4,5,8) and (2,3,6,7)
each contested a series in the manner of 1954-1972.
(In 1996, teams crossed over to the other group in Week 2)
The two 'winners' then played the Grand Final.
This system is used by the AFL since 2000.

1997 (ARL) 12 7

Week 1
- 2 v 3 (A)
- 4 v 5 (B)
- 6 v 7 (C)
Loser(C) eliminated.

Week 2
- 1 v Winner(A) (D)
- Loser(A) v Loser(B) (E)
- Winner(C) v Winner(B) (F)
Loser(F) eliminated.

Week 3
- Winner(D) v Winner(F) (G)
- Winner(E) v Loser(D) (H)
Loser(G) & Loser(H) eliminated.

Week 4
- Winner(G) v Winner(H)

10 5

Same as 1973-1994

1998 20 10

Two groups of five (1,3,6,7,10) and (2,4,5,8,9)
each contested a series in the manner of 1973-1994,
(in Week 3, teams crossover to the other group)
The two 'winners' then played the Grand Final.




The McIntyre Final 8 System
(see details below)




The McIntyre Final 8 System
(see details below)




The McIntyre Final 8 System
(see details below)




The McIntyre Final 8 System
(see details below)




The Final 8 System

Finals Series - The McIntyre Final 8 System
The McIntyre Final Eight System was devised by Ken McIntyre. It is a playoff system of the top 8 finishers in a competition to determine which two teams will play in the Grand Final. The teams play each other over three weeks, with two teams eliminated each week. Teams who finish in a higher position in the competition are given an easier route to the Grand Final.

If two teams had the same competition points and differential, points for was divided by points against then multiplied by 100. That gives you the difference as a percentage. Those would only be the same if both teams had the exact same number of points for and against. If they're still equal after that, it goes on most tries scored, then most goals scored, then most field goals scored. If everything is still equal, it comes down to a coin toss.

THE FINAL EIGHT After 26 rounds Week 1 <--> Rankings after Week 1 Progress / Elimination
Team 1 1st Qualifying Final
Team 4 v Team 5

Winner 1 (Team 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5)
Top ranking Winner

Winners 1 and 2 progress
{to Week 3
{They do not play in {Week 2
Team 2 Winner 2 (Team 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6)
2nd Highest ranking Winner
Team 3 2nd Qualifying Final
Team 3 v Team 6
Winner 3 (Team 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7)
3rd Highest ranking Winner
Team 4 Winner 4 (Team 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8)
4th Highest ranking Winner
Team 5 3rd Qualifying Final
Team 2 v Team 7
Loser 1 (Team 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5)
Highest ranking loser
Team 6 Loser 2 (Team 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6)
2nd Highest ranking loser
Team 7 4th Qualifying Final
Team 1 v Team 8
Loser 3 (Team 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7)
3rd Highest ranking loser
{Losers 3 and 4
{Week 1
Team 8 Loser 4 (Team 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8)
4th Highest ranking lose

Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
1st Semi Final
Winner 4 v Loser 2
1st Preliminary Final
Winner 2 v Winner 2nd Semi Final
Winner 1st Preliminary Final
Winner 2nd Preliminary Final
2nd Semi Final
Winner 3 v Loser 1
2nd Preliminary Final
Winner 1 v Winner 1st Semi Final


The major advantages of the system are that it provides the best chance that the top 2 teams after the regular season will meet in the grand final, and that no matches are repeated twice in the first three weeks. When compared to other final eight systems, the McIntyre system allows for many more combinations of the eight teams in the grand final - with only two combinations (1v7 and 2v8) being completely impossible.


The major problem many fans and media have with the system is that it allows the possibility for the teams that finish third and fourth on the ladder to be eliminated in the first week of the finals, although this has never happened in its history.

Another criticism is that if the top four teams win their games, as they theoretically should, it leaves the scenario of the third ranked team playing the fifth-highest ranked team in Week 2, whereas in Week 1 they played the sixth-highest ranked team. Hence the team is "rewarded" for winning by having to play a higher ranked (and theoretically more difficult) team. This situation arises because the NRL does not want the same teams playing each other in the second week of the finals series.

The third criticism was that, if first-week results go as planned, then first defeats eighth and second defeats seventh. This leaves the teams who finished from third to sixth effectively playing "dead rubbers" in the first week, with the results merely reshuffling the order of these four teams. To clarify the third criticism, the AFL always scheduled the first round of the finals such that, in chronological order, the games were played: 4 vs 5, 3 vs 6, 2 vs 7, 1 vs 8. So, there was never the situation where two teams would play, knowing that their result would certainly not matter. However, if the final two games ultimately went as predicted, then the first two games again seem to retrospectively have little meaning.

What happens in the event of a drawn Final or Grand Final?

In the event of a draw, extra time consisting of two ten minutes halves will be played. If the scores are still locked after extra time, the Captains of the teams will toss for choice of ends and the game will become "sudden death" with the first team to score a point winning the game. There is no provision for "replays" of games.