The National Rugby League (NRL) is played from March to October with the season divided up into two sections: the NRL draw and the finals.
The regular season, also known as the NRL draw, lasts for 26 weeks – 24 weeks of competition and two bye weeks for each team. Throughout the 26-week NRL draw, each team plays every team in the opposing pool twice – once at home and once on the road (16 games total). They also play six of the seven other teams in their own pool once (6 games total). They play the remaining team twice (2 games total) to equal 24 games.
The two pools of the NRL draw are determined by each team’s previous season performance. Each team earns points for each game. For example, they get:
- Two for each bye week
- Two for a win
- One for a draw
- No points for a loss
These points are then used to divide the 16 teams into two pools of equal strength. They’re also used to determine each season’s minor premiere, which is awarded to the team that finishes with the most points.
Of course, the NRL draw sees plenty of punters putting down a wager or two on their favourite teams. Online sportsbooks such as SportsBet see an influx of bettors as the NRL draw enjoys plenty of betting action because of its popularity throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Though the NRL draw sees plenty of punters predicting the outcomes of the matches, it’s the finals that everyone really looks forward to. After the completion of the regular season, the top eight teams (based on their points) are pitted against one another in the finals. The NRL finals are played over four weeks from August to September using the McIntyre Final Eight System. Online sportsbooks across the Internet see an influx of potential big winners putting down wagers on each final match.
This system starts off with four qualifying games, the first of which pits the top seeded team against the bottom seeded team like this:
- 1st Qualifying Final: 1st v 8th
- 2nd Qualifying Final: 2nd v 7th
- 3rd Qualifying Final: 3rd v 6th
- 4th Qualifying Final: 4th v 5th
The teams are then ranked based on their performance in this first week of competition as well as their position on the points ladder before the finals. The two lowest ranked teams will be eliminated. The two highest ranked teams will proceed straight through to the third week of the finals. The teams are once again paired off with the top seed playing the bottom seed according to their new rankings. This means that week two looks like this:
- 1st Semi Final: 4th highest ranked winner v 2nd highest ranked loser
- 2nd Semi Final: 3rd highest ranked winner v 1st highest ranked loser
The two losing teams will be eliminated from the competition while the two winning teams will move on to week three where they will go up against the winners from week one. It looks like this:
- 1st Preliminary Final: 2nd highest ranked winner (from week one) v winner of 2nd Semi Final.
- 2nd Preliminary Final: 1st highest ranked winner (from week one) v winner of 1st Semi Final.
The two losing teams are eliminated and the two winning teams face off in the NRL Grand Final for the premiership title.