The NRL finals system has been the go-to method for deciding the best rugby team in Australia and New Zealand since 2012.
Before that, from 1999 to 2011, they used another method called the McIntyre system. But in 2012, they switched to the current NRL finals system.
This article explains how the NRL finals work.
Understanding the 2023 NRL Finals Structure and Format
The NRL Finals Structure involves the top eight teams from the regular season. Over four weeks, these teams compete in a series of matches:
Week 1: Qualifying & Elimination Finals
- 1st Qualifying Final: 1st placed team vs. 4th placed team
- 2nd Qualifying Final: 2nd placed team vs. 3rd placed team
- 1st Elimination Final: 5th placed team vs. 8th placed team
- 2nd Elimination Final: 6th placed team vs. 7th placed team
The winners get a week off in the Qualifying Finals and move directly to Week 3 (Preliminary Finals). The losers of the Qualifying Finals get another chance in Week 2 (Semi-Finals).
The losers are out of the competition in the Elimination Finals, while the winners move to Week 2.
Week 2: Semi-Finals
- 1st Semi Final: Loser of 1st Qualifying Final vs. Winner of 1st Elimination Final
- 2nd Semi Final: Loser of 2nd Qualifying Final vs. Winner of 2nd Elimination Final
The losers are out, and the winners advance to the Preliminary Finals in Week 3.
Week 3: Preliminary Finals
- 1st Preliminary Final: Winner of 1st Qualifying Final vs. Winner of 2nd Semi-Final
- 2nd Preliminary Final: Winner of 2nd Qualifying Final vs. Winner of 1st Semi-Final
The winners of these matches advance to the Grand Final in Week 4.
Week 4: Grand Final
The winners of the two Preliminary Finals face off for the NRL Premiership title.
This format allows the top four teams an advantage because they get two chances to make it to the Preliminary Finals.
Teams placed 5th to 8th don’t have that luxury, making their path to the Grand Final more challenging.
Also Check: NRL Finals Fixtures 2023