Bit of flawed system.
No system is perfect, but the straight knockout system as above would still reward teams for finishing higher on the table, give 1st place a week off and put them one game away from the final, but also allow the finals finish more quickly, mean that elite national team players play potentially one game less, and allow the test players more rest/preparation before the test season.
In playoffs, teams will be eliminated eventually. Consider the many other competitions that use a straight knockout and do not give a second chance:
* World Cups in most sports (RL, RU, soccer)
* the Challenge Cup
* English Soccer's FA Cup Finals
* UEFA's Champions League
* NFL's finals
* All the major professional RU competitions use a Shaughnessy Playoff system
i.e. a Top 4 straight knockout, such as English RU Premiership (a top 4 only), Celtic League Rugby (a Top 4 only), France's Top 14 (Top 6 only by straight knockout), Japan's Top League (Top 4) European Cup (finals are a knockout, with no home ground advantage) and the Super 14 (this will move to a top 6 straight knockout when the competition expands to 15 teams).
Why do 4/5th have to play first? In week one, 7th could beat 2nd, and 6th could beat 3rd. Then in your system, 6th would play 7th and 1st would play 4/5th? 6th and 7th get an easier game? 4/5th get shafted?
You make a fair point. The idea was to give higher places reward for finishing higher, particularly to reward the league leaders for finishing first. The first reward was the week off in 1st weekend of finals. The second was giving them the best chance of playing a lower ranked team.
So, I guess there would be two choices
a) give 1st the lowest ranked winner (from Week 1) to play. E.g. in your scenario, if 4th beat 5th, but 7th beat 2nd and 6th beat 3rd, then 1st could host 7th, and 4th could play 6th somewhere.
allow 1st place the club call - they can choose which Week 1 winner to play. In the aforementioned scenario, they could choose any of 4th, 6th or 7th to play.
And why a neutral venue?
However, the major reason is to maximise the attendance that you can attract to that game, and maximise the standard of the venue, its capacity, and accessibility to the teams involved. Using a neutral venue in later stages of the finals is done here, and its use is justified by the history of what has happened in finals here.
Putting a Preliminary final at the home ground of one of the team would more than likely limit the crowd you can gain. Moving to a neutral venue could increase the crowd significantly, add a lot more interest, more of a finals and big game feel. It's happened here a lot. Also, to give teams more than one shot at a home venue in a finals series is unfair, gives them extra chance to progress to the final.
Edited by TheObserver, 06 September 2010 - 02:17 PM.