On 6 October, Matt Geyer wrote an absolute corker of an article detailing his belief that suspended players should be allowed to play the grand final, with their suspension carried over into the following season. I’m going to refer to this as the ‘Geyer Rule’ from here on out – not to be confused with the longstanding ‘Manly Rule’, where Silvertails are never to be charged with anything during the finals.
For what it’s worth, the original article did mention that the ‘Geyer Rule’ should only apply to a grade 2 charge or below but knowing how arbitrary the NRL judiciary is that kind of rationality is essentially meaningless and should be cast aside as if it were Nathan Merritt.
When I read Geyer’s article I was instantly jealous that I hadn’t come up with the idea. I consoled myself that plenty of other sporting gibberers had missed the boat and that it had taken a mental giant like Mark Geyer’s little brother to articulate such a genius rule.
With the benefit of hindsight and using this year as an example, I’d like to run through a few key points which prove that the ‘Geyer Rule’ is a brilliant one:
- Preliminary finals would finally be worth watching.
Essentially, the Geyer Rule advocates cheating in preliminary finals and I for one am all for it. For too long this great game of ours has been hamstrung by silly little things called rules and the NRL has had to battle rival codes with one arm tied behind its back.
Currently, Preliminary finals are a bit of a nothing event, with the games only being played in order to determine which teams will progress to play in the showpiece event of the NRL; the Grand Final. Boring.
The sooner we get rid of the consequences for breaking unnecessary rules that stop things like shoulder charges, head high tackles, spear tackles, head-butting, biffing someone in the mouth and other injury-reducing nonsense, the sooner the NRL will be able to make the Preliminary finals into a genuine spectator sport that people care about and have an honest-to-goodness shot at competing with the AFL for the attention of the nation.
- Michael Ennis wouldn’t have felt so lonely on the sidelines.
Let’s face it, if we implemented the ‘Geyer Rule’ this year then Sam Burgess wouldn’t have had to wait until the 39th second of the Grand Final to have his cheekbone fractured, he’d already have had both caved in and his nose straightened during the Preliminary final.
As I recall, in the Prelim the Bunnies went up against the Sydney Roosters who just happen to have a bloke in their team with a standing placeholder at weekly NRL judiciary meetings; 6.30 – 7.30pm on Tuesday night is known to many within the league as “The Warea Hour”. The inside word is that Channel Nine is looking to start televising it live, with Beau Ryan a short-priced favourite to host.
If the man affectionately known across the league as ‘Big Cuddly’ knew he had free reign to commit unspeakable sins during the preliminary final and still be eligible to play in the big one the following week, I daresay he may adopt the Essendon approach to football: Whatever it takes.
- The kids would get a go
With blokes like ‘Big Cuddly’ and the Burgess boys knocking each other senseless during the preliminary final, it’s likely that a few of league’s biggest stars wouldn’t be lining up at the kick-off during the Grand Final. This shouldn’t be thought of as a negative thing.
Imagine the excitement that a youngster from the under 20’s, who hadn’t gotten close enough to the seniors to know what aftershave Tom Burgess wears throughout the regular season, would feel getting a call up from the coach and being told he would make his first grade debut in the big one. What a moment that would be. Perhaps Channel Nine could televise that too.
- Referees would earn their money
As for the referees presiding over the preliminary finals, well wouldn’t the boys in pink earn their moolah that day? Attempting to police the equivalent of an MMA fight would be difficult given the current crop of NRL referees, but with correct use of video technology, I have faith that they’d march every last person swinging a ham hock around. This brings me to my next and most lucrative point.
- The sponsors would love it
I don’t know about you but one of the highlights of Grand Final day, and the season in general, was constantly going to the video referee to check something or other that was completely irrelevant in order to pump us viewers with as many KFC-sponsored Try/ No Try moments as humanly possible. My only real issue was that I didn’t get to see enough chicken and by the end of Grand Final night I couldn’t remember who the sponsor was and had to be reminded by a Billabong commercial with Sally Fitzgibbon in it.
The NRL and Channel Nine need to get more innovative with their use of the video, so instead of just going to the big screen for Try/ No Try decisions, they could utilise the Jumbotron for ‘10 minutes in the sin bin’ and ‘Send off’ decisions too. Imagine the excitement, and growing hunger, in the crowd when they go to the video ref to determine if ‘Big Cuddly’ really did give Tom Burgess a Liverpool kiss and at the same time show a delicious steaming bucket of chicken on the screen as the call comes through.
It’d be pure theatre. Picture it: Within the Coliseum of ANZ stadium, just like the mighty gladiators of Rome, the baying crowd would look to the giant electronic board and await judgement. Will it be thumbs up or thumbs down from the all-powerful chicken Caesar?
So Matt Geyer I applaud you. The ‘Geyer Rule’ is clearly a foolproof way to ensure that all our NRL superstars make it onto the field on Grand Final day.
By Brin Paulsen
Follow Brin on Twitter: @brinpaulsen