National Rugby League

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National Rugby League (NRL)
Recent season
Rugby football current event.svg 2019 NRL season
Nrl logo18.png
Sport Rugby league
Formerly known as Australian Rugby League
Instituted1997
Inaugural season 1998
(continues 1908 NSWRFL) [1]
CEO Todd Greenberg
Number of teams16
CountriesFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia (15 teams)
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand (1 team)
Premiers Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (14th title) (2018)
Most titles South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs (21 titles)
Website nrl.com
Broadcast partner
Related competition

The National Rugby League (NRL) is a league of professional men's rugby league teams in Australia. Run by the Australian Rugby League Commission, the NRL's main competition is known as the Telstra Premiership due to sponsorship from Telstra Corporation and is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen of which are based in Australia with one based in New Zealand. It is the most viewed and attended rugby league club competition in the world.

A sports league is a group of sports teams that compete against each other in a specific sport. At its simplest, it may be a local group of amateur athletes who form teams among themselves and compete on weekends; at its most complex, it can be an international professional league making large amounts of money and involving dozens of teams and thousands of players.

Professional sports sports in which athletes receive payment for their sports performance

Professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, are sports in which athletes receive payment for their performance. Professional athleticism has come to the fore through a combination of developments. Mass media and increased leisure have brought larger audiences, so that sports organizations or teams can command large incomes. As a result, more sportspeople can afford to make athleticism their primary career, devoting the training time necessary to increase skills, physical condition, and experience to modern levels of achievement. This proficiency has also helped boost the popularity of sports.

Rugby league Full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field

Rugby league football is a full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field. One of the two codes of rugby, it originated in Northern England in 1895 as a split from the Rugby Football Union over the issue of payments to players. Its rules progressively changed with the aim of producing a faster, more entertaining game for spectators.

Contents

The National Rugby League is Australia's top-level domestic men's rugby-league club competition. It contains clubs from the original Sydney club Rugby League competition, which had been running continuously since 1908. The NRL formed in the aftermath of the 1990s' Super League war as a joint partnership between the Australian governing body, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and media giant News Corporation-controlled Super League, [2] after both organisations ran premierships parallel to each other in 1997. [3] This partnership was dissolved in February 2012, with control of the NRL going to the independently formed Australian Rugby League Commission.

The Super League war was the dispute over control of the top-level professional rugby league competition in Australia and New Zealand in the mid-1990s, between the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and the Australian Super League.

Australian Rugby League

The Australian Rugby Football League, more commonly known as the Australian Rugby League (ARL), was the governing body for the sport of rugby league football in Australia. The ARL, as a corporate entity, was handed over to the new Australian Rugby League Commission. at 9:30am on 9 February 2012. Since its inception the ARL administered the Australian national team and represented Australia in international rugby league matters. During the mid-1990s' Super League war the ARL administered the country's first-grade premiership until the National Rugby League was formed. The legal hand-over from ARL to ARL Commission ensured that the game has effectively had the same governing body across Australia, since 1924.

News Corporation (1980–2013) media corporation

The original incarnation of News Corporation was an American multinational mass media corporation operated and owned by media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, headquartered in New York City. Prior to its split in 2013, it was the world's fourth-largest media group in terms of revenue, and News Corporation had become a media powerhouse since its inception, almost dominating the news, television, film and print industries.

NRL matches are played in Australia and New Zealand from March to October. The season culminates in the premiership-deciding game, the NRL Grand Final, traditionally one of Australia's most popular sporting events and one of the world's largest attended sporting championship games. [4] In addition, the NRL premiers also play in the World Club Challenge, a pre-season match against the champions of the Super League competition. [5] The reigning premiers are the Sydney Roosters winning their fourteenth official premiership.

NRL Grand Final

The NRL Grand Final, which determines the Australian rugby league football season's premiers, is one of Australia's major sporting events and one of the largest attended club championship events in the world. Since 1999 it has been contested at Sydney's Stadium Australia, which was the primary athletics venue for the 2000 Olympic Games. The first year it was held at Stadium Australia, the National Rugby League grand final broke the record for attendance at an Australian rugby league game, with 107,999 people attending.

World Club Challenge

The World Club Challenge is an annual rugby league competition between the winners of the Australian NRL and the Super League. The first such match was played in 1976 but did not become a regular fixture until the late 1980s. It was also punctuated in the 1990s by the Super League war but has been held every year since 2000. The Sydney City Roosters are the current champions, having defeated the Wigan Warriors 8– 20 in Wigan.

Sydney Roosters rugby league football club

The Sydney Roosters is an Australian professional rugby league football club. They are based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. The club competes in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition and is one of the oldest and most successful clubs. The Roosters, having won fourteen New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) and National Rugby League titles, and several other competitions. Only the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Dragons have won more premierships. The club holds the record for having the most wins and the second greatest margin of victory in a match in Australian rugby league history, and has won more minor premierships than any other club. The Roosters is one of only two clubs to finish runners-up in its inaugural season. The Eastern Suburbs DRLFC is the only club to have played in each and every season at the elite level, and since the 1970s has often been dubbed the "glamour club" of the league. Coached by Trent Robinson along with captains Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend, the Roosters play their home games at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

History

Origin and establishment

The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) ran the major rugby league competition of New South Wales from its inception in 1908 until 1994. Following the introduction of a new format for interstate rugby league, the State of Origin series in 1980, the decade of the 1980s brought about expansion of the NSWRL premiership, with the introduction of commercial sponsorship, the Winfield Cup, and the addition of non-Sydney-based teams, Canberra and Illawarra in 1982. [6] [7] Although this move brought more interest in the competition statewide in New South Wales, it would spell the beginning of the demise of some of the traditional Sydney-based clubs as well as having a negative effect on the Brisbane Rugby League premiership. Following the 1983 season, Sydney foundation club Newtown Jets were ultimately forced to withdraw from the competition because of financial difficulties. [8]

New South Wales Rugby League

The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) is the governing body of rugby league in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory and is a member of the Australian Rugby League Commission. It was formed in Sydney on 8 August 1907 and was known as the New South Wales Rugby Football League (NSWRFL) until 1984. From 1908 to 1994, the NSWRL ran Sydney's, then New South Wales', and eventually Australia's top-level rugby league club competition from their headquarters on Phillip Street, Sydney. The organisation is responsible for administering the New South Wales rugby league team.

The 1908 NSWRFL season was the inaugural season of the New South Wales Rugby Football League's premiership, Australia's first rugby league football club competition, in which nine clubs competed from April till August 1908. The season culminated in the first premiership final, for the Royal Agricultural Society Challenge Shield, which was contested by Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney. In 1908 the NSWRFL also assembled a New South Wales representative team for the first ever interstate series against Queensland, and towards the end of the season, the NSWRFL's leading players were absent, having been selected to go on the first Kangaroo tour of Great Britain.

The State of Origin series is an annual best-of-three rugby league matches between two Australian state representative sides, the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons.

Further expansion of the league followed in 1988, with another three teams based outside Sydney introduced to the competition; the Newcastle Knights and the first two Queensland teams, the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast-Tweed Giants. [9] The Brisbane and Newcastle sides proved to be successful and popular and paved the way towards a push for a truly national competition. This was attempted in 1995 with control of the premiership passing from the NSWRFL to the Australian Rugby League (ARL), who invited four more teams from outside NSW to participate in 1995. Ultimately this competition failed, but in its demise the National Rugby League was born, incorporating the traditional Sydney clubs, successfully coercing the Sydney market to follow the newly created national competition.

Newcastle Knights rugby league football club

The Newcastle Knights are an Australian professional rugby league club based in Newcastle, New South Wales. They compete in Australasia's premier rugby league competition, the National Rugby League (NRL) premiership. Playing in red and blue, the Knights joined the top tier competition in 1988, 79 years after the previous Newcastle based team, the Newcastle Rebels had departed the Sydney competition with the formation of a separate league competition based in the Newcastle region.

Brisbane Broncos rugby league football club

The Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Football Club Ltd., commonly referred to as the Brisbane Broncos or colloquially as Red Hill, are an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the city of Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland. Founded in April 1988, the Broncos play in Australia's elite competition, the National Rugby League (NRL) premiership. They have won six premierships,including two NSWRL titles, a Super League premiership and three NRL premierships. They also have two World Club Challenges. The Broncos have achieved four minor premierships during their 29 years in multiple competitions, making them Rugby League's most successful club over the past three decades. Until 2015, Brisbane had never been defeated in a grand final, and since 1991, have only failed to qualify for the finals twice. They are the most successful club in the National Rugby League, since it began in 1998, winning three premierships. It is also one of the most successful clubs in the history of rugby league, having won 62.5% of games played since its induction in 1988, second only to Melbourne Storm with 65.2%. Since the club's founding, Brisbane has never received the wooden spoon.

1995 ARL season

The 1995 ARL premiership was the 88th season of professional rugby league football in Australia, and the first to be run by the Australian Rugby League following the hand-over of the Premiership's administration by the New South Wales Rugby League. For the first time since the 1988 NSWRL season, the Premiership expanded again, and for the first time ever outside the borders of New South Wales and Queensland, with the addition of four new clubs from North Queensland, Western Australia, South Queensland and Auckland. This saw a total of twenty teams, the largest number in the League's history, compete during the regular season for the J J Giltinan Shield, which was followed by a series of play-off finals between the top eight teams that culminated in a grand final for the Winfield Cup between the newly re-branded Sydney Bulldogs and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.

The logo used by the NRL from inception in 1998 until the end of 2012. National Rugby League (logo).svg
The logo used by the NRL from inception in 1998 until the end of 2012.

The prospect of a truly national rugby league competition in addition to the introduction of pay television in Australia attracted the attention of global media organisation, News Corporation, and it followed that professional rugby league was shaken to its very foundations in the mid-1990s with the advent of the Super League war. Initially a conflict over broadcasting rights, it became a dispute as to who controlled the sport and which traditional clubs would survive into the new national era, as News Limited formed their own Super League and admitted some former ARL clubs, poaching players from the original ARL league with high salaries. With twenty-two teams of highly varying quality playing in two competitions that year, crowd attendances and corporate sponsorships were spread very thinly, [10] and many teams found themselves in financial difficulty. The ARL undertook moves to invite the traditional clubs that had moved to the Super League competition back into a re-unified competition. Following a period of negotiation with News Corporation, on 23 September 1997 the ARL announced that it was forming a new company to conduct the competition in 1998. On 7 October News' Manaaki Ranginui announced that he was confident that there would be a single competition in 1998. On 19 December, representatives of clubs affiliated with the Australian Rugby League gathered at the Sydney Football Stadium to decide whether to accept News Limited's offer of a settlement – eventually voting in favour by 36 votes to 4. [11] As a result, in the following months the National Rugby League, jointly owned by the ARL and News Limited, was formed.

Super League (Australia)

Super League was an Australian rugby league football administrative body that conducted professional competition in Australia and New Zealand for one season in 1997. Along with Super League of Europe, it was created by News Corporation during the Super League war which arose following an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the pay television rights to rugby league in Australia. After two years of legal battles the competition was played for a single season in 1997 alongside the rival Australian Rugby League (ARL) competition before the two merged in 1998 to form the National Rugby League (NRL).

Sydney Football Stadium

The Sydney Football Stadium, commercially known as Allianz Stadium and previously Aussie Stadium, was a football stadium in Moore Park, Sydney, Australia. Built in 1988 next to the Sydney Cricket Ground, the stadium was Sydney's premier rectangular field venue for rugby league, rugby union, and football.

It was announced that the inaugural National Rugby League (NRL) season of 1998 would have 20 teams competing, 19 remaining Super League and ARL teams plus the Melbourne Storm, who were created by Super League for their 1998 season. Clubs on both sides of the war were shut down. Super League decided to close the Hunter Mariners and the financially ruined Perth Reds, who were $10 million in debt at the end of 1997[ citation needed ], while the ARL decided to close down the South Queensland Crushers, who were also in severe financial trouble[ citation needed ]. Additionally, at the end of 1998 the NRL decided to close down former Super League club, the Adelaide Rams and former ARL club, the Gold Coast Chargers, despite the Gold Coast franchise being one of the few clubs to make a profit during the Super League war[ citation needed ].

1998–2002: Rationalisation

One condition of the peace agreement between the ARL and News Limited was that there would be a 14 team competition in 2000. The 20 clubs that played in 1998 would be assessed on various items such as sponsorship, crowds, on-field success and the like. It was also announced that clubs that merged would receive a large sum of money, as well as a guaranteed position in the 2000 NRL Competition. The St. George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers were the first clubs to take up the offer, forming the joint-venture St. George Illawarra Dragons at the end of the 1998 season.

The 1999 NRL Grand Final brought about a new official world record attendance for a game of rugby league. 107,999 spectators saw the Melbourne Storm defeat the newly created St. George Illawarra Dragons in the decider at Stadium Australia.

Balmain and Western Suburbs formed the joint-venture club, the Wests Tigers at the end of 1999, while North Sydney and Manly Warringah created the ill-fated Northern Eagles. As part of another image makeover, a number of teams also released new club logos. The most notable of these was the Sydney Roosters, dropping the City section of their name for the 2000 season and beyond. Souths were controversially axed from the competition at the end of 1999 for failing to meet the criteria.

This move was highly controversial and on 12 November 2000 about 80,000 marched in protest at their continued exclusion. South Sydney challenged the decision in the Federal Court claiming that the NRL agreement was exclusionary, intended to unfairly exclude South Sydney, and breached the Trade Practices Act. Justice Paul Finn ruled that the agreement did not specifically exclude any club and dismissed the Rabbitohs' claims for re-instatement into the national competition. Souths appealed this decision and were re-admitted into the competition in 2002.

The Auckland Warriors experienced much financial hardship in the early part of the decade, ultimately collapsing before being resurrected as the New Zealand Warriors for the 2001 season. They made the Grand Final in 2002 and then again in 2011, losing both encounters to the Sydney Roosters and the re-instated Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, respectively.

In 2001, Australia's largest telecommunications provider Telstra became naming rights sponsor of the NRL, with the competition's name becoming the NRL Telstra Premiership, while in 2002 David Gallop took over the CEO role from David Moffett, and the competition has become more and more popular each season.

In 2001 the NRL Grand Final started to be played on Sunday nights, a shift from the traditional Sunday afternoon slot used for over a decade prior.

2003–2010: Record popularity, expansion and centenary

The 2003 season was widely regarded as the most successful since the beginning of the National Rugby League in 1998. The Manly Warringah Rugby League Football Club took over the NRL licence from the Northern Eagles franchise, after the financial bankruptcy of the North Sydney faction made the joint-venture untenable. The Penrith Panthers rose from the bottom of the table to win the Premiership, while the Broncos returned to Suncorp Stadium mid-year. Season 2004 proved even more successful than 2003, with the North Queensland Cowboys going from 11th position in 2003 to 3rd in 2004, narrowly missing out on a maiden Grand Final berth.

Crowd average records were broken in 2003, 2004 and 2005. [10] In 2005, the NRL reached record levels of popularity for its competition. Total crowds for the competition season almost reached the figures for the last year of the competition conducted by the ARL competition of 1995, prior to the Super League war. The average attendance record remained until 2010. [10] From 2004 to 2005, there was a 39% increase in sponsorship, a 41% increase in merchandise royalties, and a 12% increase in playing participation. [12] In 2005, Business Review Weekly ranked the NRL 497 in revenue of Australian private companies, with revenue of A$66.1m (+7%) with 35 employees. In 2004, Canterbury-Bankstown put a year of turmoil and disgrace at the aftermath of the alleged rape scandal to hold aloft the NRL trophy and give the Bulldogs their first premiership since 1995. In 2005, a record national audience of 4.1 million tuned in to watch the grand final between the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys. [13]

The 2006 NRL Grand Final was won by the Brisbane Broncos over the Melbourne Storm, 15–8. The matchup was a significant milestone in the history of the NRL, as two interstate teams (teams not from New South Wales, the "heartland" of the NRL) contested the grand final for the first time. In the city of Melbourne, whose team was playing in their second grand final, the game's television ratings were higher than in Sydney where the game was played. [14] Crowds were down on 2005, however were better than any other year prior to that.

In its tenth season the NRL returned to having a club based on the Gold Coast, Queensland with the inclusion of the Gold Coast Titans. The Titans were the first professional sporting team to occupy the Gold Coast since 1998, when the Gold Coast Chargers were one of the teams removed during the NRL's rationalisation process between the end of the Super League war and the 2000 season.

The 2007 season saw the return of Monday Night Football and the inclusion of two Friday night games. Both of which turned out to be ratings successes. Another change from the previous seasons was a reduction in the number of byes per team in the season. With an odd number of teams contesting between 2002 and 2006, the draw meant that at least one team would have to have a bye each weekend. With the inclusion of the 16th team for the 2007 season, the National Rugby League had the option of reverting to back to the system used between 2000 and 2001 where every team played each round. That system was not used however, with teams were given just a single bye during the year, grouped in periods that will assist clubs around representative fixtures.

The opening round saw two matches at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, the first featuring reigning champions Brisbane against fellow Queensland side North Queensland, while the second match featured the new club, the Gold Coast playing St. George Illawarra. The weather during the middle of the season was less than ideal, with cyclonic conditions severely affecting many NRL games played in Sydney and Newcastle.

The 2007 finals series saw the South Sydney Rabbitohs return to finals football for the first time in decades. The season culminated on 30 September 2007, with the Grand Final contested between Manly and Melbourne. Melbourne won the title 34–8 and the Grand Final achieved the honour of being the most watched television show in Australia in 2007. [15]

Throughout 2008, the NRL celebrated 100 years since rugby league was introduced into Australia, with several initiatives to recognise the important milestone, including an extensive marketing campaign called the 'Centenary of Rugby League'. The competition began in March, with a special Heritage round held in mid-April, coinciding with the first round of competition played in 1908.

At a Gala event on 17 April 2008 the Team of the Century was announced, being:

For the second year in a row, the Grand Final was played between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, in the NRL's first ever twilight decider. The Sea Eagles took out the premiership game 40–0, setting the record for the highest winning margin in a Grand Final match (although the club formerly known as St. George Dragons were beaten 38–0 in 1975 and using the modern point scale of 4-point tries, this would amount to 46–0.) Furthermore, it was the first time a team had been kept scoreless in a Grand Final since 1978.

The 2009 season marked the beginning of the second century of rugby league in Australia. The Grand Final that year was played between the Parramatta Eels and once again Melbourne Storm. Melbourne defeated Parramatta 23 – 16 to win the premiership to make it two premierships out of the last four grand finals for the Storm.

In 2010 the Inaugural All Stars Match was held on 13 February, in conjunction with the Sorry Day reconciliation anniversary to promote rugby league's long association and involvement with the Aboriginal community. The first match saw the Indigenous All Stars beat the NRL All Stars 16–12. The success of this event has seen it become a recurring fixture on the rugby league calendar with Queensland awarded the hosting rights for the next three years. [17]

The 29th State of Origin series was also played featuring the world's first live free-to-air 3D TV broadcast. [18] Queensland later made further history by winning an unprecedented fifth series in a row, and winning the 2010 series by a scoreline of 3–0, their first Origin whitewash since 1995. [19]

In 2010 the NRL set a record total season average attendance of 17,367 per game and a record total season aggregate attendance of 3,490,778. [20] [21]

During the 2010 finals series, the second qualifying match between the Wests Tigers and Sydney Roosters became the first McIntyre System final to go into extra time, with the One Hundred Minute Epic described in media circles as one of the greatest of the modern era. [22]

The 2010 Grand Final was played between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters. The Dragons won 32–8. This was the first premiership won by the club in its eleven-year existence.

2010–present: Establishment of the ARLC

NRL logo launched at the end of 2012 and used until 2018 2015 NRL Logo.png
NRL logo launched at the end of 2012 and used until 2018

After several years of preparation and build up, on 14 December 2010 the Australian Rugby League and News Corporation agreed upon a constitutional framework paving the way for the establishment of a new and independent commission to govern the sport in Australia. The negotiations of such a framework became drawn out over establishing details, primarily of sponsorship, media rights, funding of state bodies, funding of the Melbourne Storm, debate over News Ltd private ownership of clubs, and also of individual appointments to the new body. The 2011 Grand Final was contested between the Manly Sea Eagles and the New Zealand Warriors. This was the second grand final involving the New Zealand Warriors. Manly recorded a 24-10 win claiming their second premiership under head coach Des Hasler.

On 10 February 2012, the independent commission, known as the Australian Rugby League Commission assumed control of all levels of the game, replacing former state based boards and assuming full control of the NRL from the NRL partnership (comprising the previous ARL board and News Limited). [23] The 2012 Grand Final involved the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs and the Melbourne Storm, this was the first time since 2008 that the first and second placed teams contested the Grand Final. The Melbourne Storm recorded a 14-4 victory thus achieving their second premiership and claiming some vengeance for the stripped premierships.

Pre-match formalities taking place prior to the Dragons vs Roosters Anzac Day clash in 2018 Dragons vs Roosters, Anzac Day 2018.jpg
Pre-match formalities taking place prior to the Dragons vs Roosters Anzac Day clash in 2018

The 2013 season saw the resurgence of foundation clubs the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs with both clubs finishing first and second place respectively. The NRL was also left with a black eye after the Cronulla Sharks were caught using performance-enhancing substances by ASADA dating back to 2011. The 2013 Grand Final was played between the Sydney Roosters and the Manly Sea Eagles with the Roosters recording a 26-18 victory.

The 2014 season started with the introduction of the Auckland Nines and was marred by the handing down of a million dollar fine to the Cronulla Sharks for their role in the ASADA scandal while head coach Shane Flanagan was suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season. The 2014 Grand Final was contested by the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs. This was the Rabbitohs first grand final appearance since 1971. The Rabbitohs would break their 43-year premiership drought with a 30-6 victory.

The 2015 season saw the return of the Queensland juggernauts, The North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos who would finish inside the top four and contest the 2015 Grand Final. The 2015 Grand Final is considered by many to be the greatest grand final of all time as a high intensity match ended in dramatic circumstances when the Cowboys scored as the full-time siren sounded. Johnathan Thurston would miss the conversion from the sideline as the ball hit the post thus sending the match into golden point, the first golden point grand final. Ben Hunt would drop the ball on the kick-off and hand the Cowboys the chance to win which was converted as Johnathan Thurston successfully kicked a field goal to win the match 17-16.

The 2016 season saw the Melbourne Storm return to the minor premiership position while the Canberra Raiders returned to the top four for the first time since the 2003. The Cronulla Sharks and reigning premiers North Queensland would fill out the top four. The season continued a trend of the minor premiership not being decided to the final round, the fourth consecutive year. The 2016 Grand Final was contested between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks, it was the Cronulla Sharks fourth grand final appearance while it was the seventh for the Storm. The match was a tight affair and was not settled until after the siren had sounded. The Cronulla Sharks claimed their first premiership ending a famous 49-year drought by a score of 14-12.

Following the success generated by the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup, a national women's league was established, and the first season commenced in September 2018 comprising four clubs aligned to existing NRL clubs. [24]

Teams

The NRL consists of sixteen clubs: eight clubs based within Greater Sydney, two in regional New South Wales, three in Queensland and one each in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand. The league operates on a single group system, with no divisions or conferences and no relegation and promotion from other leagues. St. George Illawarra Dragons and Wests Tigers have two locations indicated due to more than one ground being occupied by both teams.

A total of twenty-three clubs have played in the National Rugby League since its first season in 1998. For a list of all clubs past and present see List of teams in the NSWRL/ARL/SL/NRL. For a complete list of all teams no longer competing in the NRL see here

Eleven clubs have been members of the National Rugby League for every season since its inception in 1998. This group includes Brisbane, Canberra, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cronulla-Sutherland, Melbourne, New Zealand, Newcastle, North Queensland, Parramatta, Penrith and Sydney Roosters.

Current clubs

ClubEstablishedCityStadiumSeat capacity*Premierships
won
Years won
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 1988 Brisbane, Queensland Suncorp Stadium 52,50061992-93, 1997–98, 2000, 2006.
Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 1981 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory GIO Stadium Canberra 25,00031989-90, 1994.
Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 1934 Sydney, New South Wales ANZ Stadium 83,50081938, 1942, 1980, 1984–85,
1988, 1995, 2004.
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 1967 Sydney, New South Wales Shark Park 22,00012016
Gold Coast Titans colours.svg Gold Coast Titans 2007 Gold Coast, Queensland Cbus Super Stadium 27,4000None
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 1947 Sydney, New South Wales Lottoland 23,00081972-73, 1976, 1978, 1987,
1996, 2008, 2011.
Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 1997 Melbourne, Victoria AAMI Park 30,05031999, 2012, 2017.
Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights 1988 Newcastle, New South Wales McDonald Jones Stadium 33,00021997, 2001.
New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors 1995 Auckland, New Zealand Mount Smart Stadium 30,0000None
North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 1995 Townsville, Queensland 1300SMILES Stadium 26,50012015
Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels 1947 Sydney, New South Wales Bankwest Stadium 30,00041981-83, 1986.
Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers 1967 Penrith, New South Wales Panthers Stadium 22,50021991, 2003.
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 1908 Sydney, New South Wales ANZ Stadium 83,500211908-09, 1914, 1918, 1925–29, 1931–32,
1950-51, 1953–55, 1967–68, 1970–71,
2014.
St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons 1998‡ Sydney, New South Wales Jubilee Stadium / WIN Stadium 21,50012010
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 1908 Sydney, New South Wales Sydney Cricket Ground 48,000141911-13, 1923, 1935–37, 1940, 1945,
1974-75, 2002, 2013, 2018.
Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 1999‡ Sydney, New South Wales Bankwest Stadium 30,00012005
* Seat capacity for rugby league games only. Seat capacity for other sports, concerts and events may differ.
denotes that the club was formed as a joint-venture of pre-existing clubs.
also denotes that the clubs making up the joint-venture had won premierships prior to merging, which are not included in the tally.
Locations of the participating clubs in Sydney, rest of Australia and New Zealand.

Defunct clubs

ClubEstablishedLast SeasonCityStadiumPremierships
Adelaide Rams 19951998 Adelaide, South Australia Adelaide Oval/Hindmarsh Stadium 0
Balmain Tigers 19081999 (Merged with Western Suburbs Magpies) Balmain, New South Wales Leichhardt Oval 11
Gold Coast Chargers 19871998 Gold Coast, Queensland Seagullls Stadium 0
Hunter Mariners 19951997 Newcastle, New South Wales Topper Stadium/Marathon Stadium 0
Illawarra Steelers 19801998 (Merged with St. George Dragons) Illawarra, New South Wales WIN Stadium 0
North Sydney Bears 19081999 (Merged Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, split in 2002) North Sydney, New South Wales North Sydney Oval 2
Northern Eagles 20002002 North Sydney/Manly/ Warringah, New South Wales Brookvale Oval/Central Coast Stadium 0
St. George Dragons 19211998 (Merged with Illawarra Steelers) St. George, New South Wales Hurstville Oval 15
South Queensland Crushers 19921997 Brisbane, Queensland Suncorp Stadium 0
Western Reds 19921997 (Disbanded due to the Super League war) Perth, Western Australia WACA Ground 0
Western Suburbs Magpies 19082000 (Merged with Balmain Tigers) Western Suburbs, New South Wales Campbelltown Stadium 4

Foundation clubs

Two of the teams currently in the NRL were founded in 1908, the first year of rugby league competition in Australia: the Sydney Roosters (founded as 'Eastern Suburbs') and South Sydney Rabbitohs. Foundation clubs Western Suburbs Magpies and Balmain Tigers have been competing as a merged entity, the Wests Tigers since the 2000 NRL season.

Rivalries

NRL venues – traditional and non-traditional

Since 1998 NRL clubs have played both trial matches and premiership season games in areas that do not have representation in the NRL in both Australia and New Zealand. Non-traditional venues that have been used include Central Coast Stadium (Gosford), Westpac Stadium (Wellington), Barlow Park (Cairns), TIO Stadium (Darwin), nib Stadium (Perth), Stadium Mackay (Mackay), Marley Brown Oval (Gladstone), Clive Berghofer Stadium (Toowoomba), Scully Park (Tamworth), Glen Willow Oval (Mudgee) and Eden Park (Auckland).

Season structure

Pre-season

The NRL pre season typically begins in February and ends in early March. Clubs generally use this time to organise trial matches to test playing combinations however some clubs play for trophies. Easts and Wests play for the Foundation Cup while South Sydney and St. George Illawarra play for the Charity Shield. The trials are typically played in cities and towns that normally don't host NRL matches. In the past a World Seven's rugby league football tournament has been hosted, however this was scrapped due to injury concerns.

All Stars match

Beginning in 2010, the All Stars match has become a major fixture in the NRL preseason. The teams are chosen via public voting and the two sides play for the Arthur Beetson Trophy. In 2018, the game was temporarily removed from the calendar due to the World Cup being played the previous year citing an excessive player workload. The match returned in 2019 and was hosted in Melbourne with the Australian Indigenous All Stars taking on the New Zealand Maori All Stars.

Auckland Nines

In 2014, the inaugural rugby league Nine's tournament took place, featuring all sixteen NRL clubs. It is staged at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. [25] This two-day tournament has now become a regular fixture, taking place at the end of January each year. Women's nines games are also fixtured alongside the main tournament between the Australian and New Zealand women's teams. In 2018 the tournament was removed from the calendar due to the World Cup being played the previous year citing an excessive player workload. It is not clear as to whether the concept will return.

World Club Challenge

The World Club Challenge is an annual pre-season match played between the champion of the National Rugby League and the champion of the Super League. The first match of its kind was the 1976 World Club Challenge and it was then played sporadically throughout the late 80s and 90s, including a one off Super League tournament in 1997, before becoming a regular annual pre-season fixture since 2000.

In 2015, the competition was expanded to include two exhibition games before the Challenge game. This expanded series, called the World Club Series , ran from 2015 to 2017. The first two Series saw the leagues’ champions joined by two invited teams from each league, resulting in a three-game series. Each invited team represented their league in a single game, played in the days leading up to the usual Challenge match. In 2017, only one invited team from each league participated, with the NRL citing tight schedules, distant travel and long seasons as an impediment to the Series. In 2018 the series was cancelled, with only the usual Challenge match played and has continued as a single match since.

Premiership season

As rugby league is a winter sport in Australasia, the NRL premiership season usually begins in early March following a brief series of trial matches. During each pre-season trial match series, the Charity Shield is played for between the Rabbitohs and Dragons. A round of regular season premiership games is then played every weekend for twenty-six weeks, usually until the end of September. In most rounds, one match is played on Thursday night, two on Friday night, three on Saturday and two on Sunday. Special themed weeks include Heritage Round, Women in League Round and Rivalry Round. Separate trophies between rival teams are also presented throughout the season, such as the Ron Coote Cup between the Roosters and Rabbitohs, Jack Gibson Cup between Parramatta and the Roosters, the 1989 League Legends Cup between the Tigers and Raiders, the Bandage Bear Cup between the Bulldogs and Eels and the Mal Reilly Cup between Newcastle and Manly Warringah.

Teams receive two competition points for a win, and one point for a draw. The bye also receives two points; a loss, no points. Teams on the ladder are ranked by competition points, then match points differential (for and against) and points percentage are used to separate teams with equal competition points. At the end of the regular season, the club which is ranked highest on the ladder is declared minor premiers.

Representative season

As well as playing for their club in the premiership, NRL players are regularly selected to play in a number of representative competitions that are conducted throughout each season. The representative season is generally considered to be a period of rugby league that runs from about the middle of April until the middle of July each year.[ citation needed ] Up until the 2017 season the fixtures took into account the following games:

From 2018, the season was altered to create a shorter workload for players a number of representative games were scrapped and timing changed therefore the representative season was changed to include:

Other representative matches that can occur later in the year are:

Finals series

The eight highest placed teams at the end of the regular season compete in the finals series. The system consists of a number of games between the top eight teams over four weeks in September, until only two teams remain. These two teams then contest the Grand Final, which is usually played on the first Sunday of October. From 1998 to 2011, the NRL used the McIntyre Final Eight System but with the introduction of the ARLC, it was decided to change to the current format which was perceived as fairer for teams finishing in the Top 4. [26]

Grand Final

Darren Lockyer and Wayne Bennett parade the premiership after the Brisbane Broncos' Grand Final victory in 2006. Darren Lockyer and Wayne Bennett (4 October 2006, Brisbane).jpg
Darren Lockyer and Wayne Bennett parade the premiership after the Brisbane Broncos' Grand Final victory in 2006.

The NRL Grand Final, which determines the season's premiers, is one of Australia's major sporting events and is one of the largest attended club championship events in the world. Since 1999 it has been contested at Sydney's Stadium Australia, which was the primary athletics venue for the 2000 Olympic Games. [27] The first year it was held at Stadium Australia, the NRL Grand Final broke the record for attendance at an Australian rugby league game, with 107,999 people attending. [28]

The Grand Final had traditionally been played on Sunday afternoons, shifting to 8 pm in 2001, then to 7 pm thereafter. However, from 2008, a compromise was reached between official broadcaster Nine Network's preferred starting time and the afternoon starting time of 3 pm, with the Grand Final beginning at 5 pm AEST. [29]

Each year the NRL Grand Final Breakfast , a function that is attended by both teams, hundreds of guests and screened live on Australian television is held during the week before the game.

The game itself is usually preceded by an opening ceremony featuring entertainment and the singing of the national anthem by well-known Australasian and international musical acts. After the pre-game entertainment it is traditional for the NRL trophy to be delivered to the field by an Australian Army helicopter shortly before kick off.

At the conclusion of the Grand Final there is a presentation ceremony where the winning team are awarded premiership rings. [30] The player judged to be the man-of-the-match by the Australian national team selectors is awarded the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal and the Prime Minister of Australia is typically on-hand to hand the trophy to the winning captain.

In 2010 the Government of New South Wales secured the grand final for Stadium Australia until 2022 for $45 million. [31]

StadiumLocationCountryHighest attendanceAverage attendance
Stadium Australia SydneyAustralia107,99980,000

Premiership winners

NoteMelbourne Storm were stripped of their 2007, 2009 premiership titles and their 2006, 2007, 2008 minor premiership titles due to their breach of the salary cap. The titles were withheld by the NRL rather than awarding them to the runners up.

SeasonGrand FinalsMinor Premiers
PremiersScoreRunners-up
1998 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (4th title) 38 – 12 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (37 pts)
1999 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (1st) 20 – 18 St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (40 pts)
2000 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (5th) 14 – 6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (38 pts)
2001 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights (2nd) 30 – 24 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels (42 pts)
2002 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (12th) 30 – 8 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors (38 pts)
2003 Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers (2nd) 18 – 6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers (40 pts)
2004 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (8th) 16 – 13 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (42 pts)
2005 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers (1st) 30 – 16 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels (36 pts)
2006 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (6th) 15 – 8 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm Withheld
2007 Withheld 34 – 8 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Withheld
2008 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (7th) 40 – 0 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm Withheld
2009 Withheld 23 – 16 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons (38 pts)
2010 St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons (1st) 32 – 8 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons (38 pts)
2011 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (8th) 24 – 10 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (42 pts)
2012 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (2nd) 14 – 4 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (40 pts)
2013 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (13th) 26 – 18 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (40 pts)
2014 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs (21st) 30 – 6 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (36 pts)
2015 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys (1st) 17 – 16 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (40 pts)
2016 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (1st) 14 – 12 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (42 pts)
2017 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (3rd) 34 – 6 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (44 pts)
2018 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (14th) 21 - 6 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (34 pts)

List of most successful NRL teams

NOTE: These stats NRL era only (1998 to present) Ranking: Teams are ranked in order of premierships won, grand final runners up then minor premierships won. To see the complete list of premiers in Australian Rugby League, see List of NRL Premiers

RankTeamPremiership yearsRunner-up yearsMinor Premiers years
1 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 3 (2002, 2013, 2018)4 (2000, 2003, 2004, 2010)5 (2004, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018)
2 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 3 (1999, 2012, 2017)4 (2006, 2008, 2016, 2018)3 (2011, 2016, 2017)
3 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 3 (1998, 2000, 2006)1 (2015)2 (1998, 2000)
4 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 2 (2008, 2011)2 (2007, 2013)0
5 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs 1 (2004)3 (1998, 2012, 2014)1 (2012)
6 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 1 (2015)2 (2005, 2017)0
7 St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons 1 (2010)1 (1999)2 (2009, 2010)
8 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 1 (2016)01 (1999)
9 Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers 1 (2003)01 (2003)
10 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights 1 (2001)00
Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 1 (2005)00
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 1 (2014)00
13 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels 02 (2001, 2009)2 (2001, 2005)
14 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors 02 (2002, 2011)1 (2002)
15 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 000
Gold Coast Titans colours.svg Gold Coast Titans 000

Players

National Rugby League footballers are among Australasia's most famous athletes[ citation needed ], commanding multimillion-dollar playing contracts and sponsorship deals. Each club in the NRL has a "top squad" of twenty-five players, who are signed under a salary cap. For the most part, the players who play in NRL matches are sourced from these top squads. During a season the need may arise for a club to use players outside these 25, in which case players are usually sourced from the club's corresponding NRL Under 20s side or a feeder club in the New South Wales Cup or Queensland Cup. [32] [33] [34] [35]

Demographics

In the recent years, the influence of Polynesian players on the NRL has grown, with figures from the 2011 season showing that 35% of NRL players and over 45% of NRL Under 20s players are of Polynesian background. [36] This increase in Polynesian players has been blamed for the decline of Indigenous players, dropping from 21% in the 1990s to 11% for the 2009 season. [37]

Ben Barba at the Dally M awards Ben Barba.jpg
Ben Barba at the Dally M awards

The first Indigenous Australian to play in the NSWRL/NRL was New South Wales Rugby League premiership player George Green, who debuted in 1909. Since that time, many high-profile indigenous athletes have played in the competition, including Arthur Beetson (the first Aborigine to captain an Australian national team in any sport [38] ) and former Test match representatives Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis.

At the elite level of the game, Indigenous Australians represented 35% of the roster for the Kangaroos, 21% of players at the 2012 State of Origin series, 12% of NRL players and a further 8% of the NRL Under 20s players. [39] By way of comparison, 2.3% of the Australian population identified themselves as Indigenous in the 2006 Australian census. [40]

To celebrate the strong Indigenous ties to the game, the NRL holds a preseason All Stars game, featuring a team made up of Indigenous Australians playing a publicly voted team consisting of the non-Indigenous players, and an Indigenous Leadership Group has formed, consisting of the game's elite Indigenous players. The Leadership Group hosts regular multi-day camps where all Indigenous NRL players are invited to learn more about Indigenous culture. [41]

Both the All Stars match and the Leadership Group were ideas pioneered by former player Preston Campbell, [42] with the All Stars man of the match receiving the Preston Campbell medal.

Salary cap

A salary cap was introduced to the NSWRL in 1990 to even the playing field of teams in the Winfield Cup. [43] As of 2013 the club grant is $7.1 million which covers the salary cap of $5.85 million and a minimum wage for $80,000 for the top twenty-five players at each club. [44] The salary cap will increase to $6.3 million in 2014, $6.55 million in 2015, $6.8 million by 2016 and $7 million in 2017. [45]

The cap is actively policed [46] and penalties for clubs found to have breached the NRL salary cap regulations include fines of lesser of half the amount involved or $500,000 and/or deduction of premiership points. For example, six clubs were fined for minor infractions in 2003. These infractions are usually technical in nature, and can sometimes be affected by third-party factors such as loss of sponsorship revenue affecting an allowance. During the 2007 season the NRL implemented ways of creating a fair and more beneficial cap for players and clubs.

In 2010, following the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal, the NRL introduced requirements for players and their agents to sign statutory declarations pledging their contracts comply with salary cap regulations, where previously only club chairmen and chief executives did so for biannual salary cap audits. [47]

Major breaches of the cap

In 2002, the Bulldogs were fined the maximum of $500,000 and deducted all 37 premiership points received during the season after it was found that they had committed serious and systematic breaches of the salary cap totalling $2.13 million over the past three years, including $750,000 in 2001 and $920,000 in 2002; these were described by NRL chief executive David Gallop as "exceptional in both its size and its deliberate and ongoing nature". The points penalty meant that the club won the 2002 wooden spoon (Souths would have finished last if not for the breaches), and as the club had been leading the competition table prior to the imposition of the penalties, this was a shattering outcome for the club and its fans. Two senior club officials were jailed for fraud as a result of these breaches.

In 2005, the New Zealand Warriors were fined $430,000 and were ordered to start the 2006 season with a four premiership point deficit and cut their payroll by $450,000 after club officials revealed that their former management had exceeded the salary cap by $1.1 million over the last two years. The points penalty meant that the Warriors missed a finals berth in 2006.

On 22 April 2010, following revelations by an internal whistle blower and investigation by the NRL, Storm officials revealed that the club had committed serious and systematic breaches of the salary cap regulations between 2006 and 2010 by running a well-organized dual contract and bookkeeping system that concealed a total of $3.78 million in payments made to players outside of the salary cap from the NRL. This included: $303,000 in 2006, $459,000 in 2007, $957,000 in 2008, $1.021 million in 2009 and $1.04 million in 2010. As a result, the club was stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premierships, 2006–2008 minor premierships and the following year, the 2010 World Club Challenge trophy. They were also fined a then Australian sporting record of $1.689 million ($1.1 million in NRL prize money which was equally distributed between the remaining 15 clubs, $89,000 in prize money from the World Club Challenge which was distributed to the Leeds Rhinos, and a maximum of $500,000 for breaching the salary cap regulations). In addition they were ordered to cut their payroll by $1.0125 million, deducted all eight premiership points received during the 2010 season and barred from receiving premiership points for the remainder of the 2010 season. The points penalty meant that the club won the 2010 wooden spoon. The former directors attempted unsuccessful legal action against the penalties which collapsed, and the club also had to pay the NRLs legal costs. The matter was also referred to ASIC, the Australian Tax Office, the Victorian State Revenue Office, and the Victoria Police to investigate possible fraud however by May 2011 these investigations were closed. [48] The players themselves were found to have not done anything wrong during this time so individual awards are recognised in addition, the players were still eligible for Test/State of Origin selection.

Prior to the start of the 2016 NRL season, the Parramatta Eels faced the prospect with starting the season on -4 points due to salary cap indiscretions in 2015, however the NRL was satisfied with governance changes at the Eels and no points were deducted. [49] However, it was revealed in March that third-party payments had been made by several companies to several players, which is strictly prohibited in the NRL. [50] On 3 May 2016, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg announced that the club would be docked the twelve competition points they have accrued so far this season, as well as fined $1 million and stripped of the 2016 NRL Auckland Nines title it won in February. [51] In addition, the NRL also announced that the Eels would not be able to accrue any further competition points until they fall under the salary cap, which they were reported to be $500,000 over as of 3 May 2016. [52] Five officials, including chairman Steve Sharp, deputy chairman Tom Issa, director Peter Serrao, chief executive John Boulous and football manager Daniel Anderson, were also sacked. [53] On 9 July, after over 2 months of club officials contesting the preliminary penalties, Parramatta were handed their punishment with the addition of their for/against points tally accumulated from rounds 1-9 being deducted. [54]

Recently, in 2018, Manly Sea-Eagles were fined $750,000, two officials (Neil Bare and Joe Kelly were suspended and a $660,000 penalty was applied to the salary cap for 2018 and the next year for breaches of the salary cap). Manly was proved by the NRL chief executive that third-party payments and deals were made to attract more players to the club.

Judiciary and Integrity Unit

The NRL Judiciary is made up of former players who convene in three-man panels to rule on on-field incidents. The judiciary is currently chaired by Wollongong district court judge Paul Conlon and made up of former players Mal Cochrane, Michael Buettner, Bradley Clyde, Sean Garlick, Don McKinnon and Bob Lindner. [55] [56]

An integrity Unit was formed on 7 February 2013 and is headed by former Federal Court judge Tony Whitlam. [57]

Awards

Minor Premiership Winners

The Minor Premiership is a trophy awarded to the team finishing the season top of NRL in the sport of rugby league football.

Provan-Summons trophy

The Provan-Summons Trophy is awarded to the winner of the Grand Final Nrltrophy.jpg
The Provan-Summons Trophy is awarded to the winner of the Grand Final

The Provan-Summons trophy is the NRL's main prize, awarded to the team that wins the premiership. Its sculptured design is similar to the Winfield Cup trophy, which was introduced for the 1982 NSWRFL season. It is a three-dimensional cast of a famous photo called The Gladiators , [58] which depicts a mud-soaked Norm Provan of St. George and Arthur Summons of Western Suburbs embracing after the 1963 NSWRFL season's Grand Final. It was not officially named the Provan-Summons Trophy until 2013, the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Grand Final. [59] The trophy is awarded following each grand final to the captain of the winning club.

Each player from the premiership winning side are also awarded Premiership Rings.

J. J. Giltinan Shield

Created in 1951, the J. J. Giltinan Shield is awarded to the club ranked highest on the NRL ladder after the premiership season concludes. Typically this team is known as the minor premiers.

Clive Churchill medal

The Clive Churchill Medal is awarded to the most outstanding player in a grand final. It is named after former Australian fullback Clive Churchill.

Dally M awards

The Dally M Medal is the highlight of the Dally M Awards and was named after Henry Herbert 'Dally' Messenger, who was instrumental in the establishment of rugby league football in Australia. The awards were introduced in 1980 by News Limited. The Dally M has been the official player-of-the-year award, and the highest individual honour in Australian rugby league, since the unification of the game in 1998. Before 1998 the highest award was the Rothmans Medal.

The medal is awarded, usually by the Australian Prime Minister, at the annual Dally M Awards night. As well as honouring the best and fairest player of the year, the Dally M awards recognise the premier player in each position, the best coach and the most outstanding rookie of the season.

The Immortals

Originally The Immortals were eight players named by the sport's major Australian magazine Rugby League Week as the nation's greatest ever.

Established in 1981, the group of eight former Test captains: Arthur Beetson, Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Reg Gasnier, Graeme Langlands, Wally Lewis, Johnny Raper and Andrew Johns were those appointed by Rugby League Week between 1981 and 2012.

Following the demise of Rugby League Week, the Australian Rugby League Commission took ownership of The Immortals concept and expanded the group on 1 August 2018 by inclusion of Mal Meninga, Norm Provan, Frank Burge, Dave Brown and Dally Messenger. [60]

Queensland Rugby League's Team of the Century

The Queensland Rugby League's Team of the Century is a team that consisted of the greatest rugby league players from 1909 to 2008. This team was picked by six judges in 2008 from a list of 100 nominated players.

New South Wales Rugby League's Team of the Century

The New South Wales Rugby League's Team of the Century is a team that consisted of the greatest rugby league players from 1908 to 2007.

Audience

A 2004 match between Brisbane and Canterbury Suncorp Stadium.jpg
A 2004 match between Brisbane and Canterbury

The NRL provides six of the top seven and 78 of the top 100 programs on Australian subscription television. [61] In 2010 it was the sport with highest total cumulative audience on Australian television, with an aggregate audience of 120.6 million viewers. [62]

Television

Television (2018–2022)
Within Australia all matches are broadcast on the Nine Network and on Fox Sports. [63] In New Zealand all matches, including representative fixtures such as the All Stars Match and the State of Origin series, are shown live on Sky Sport. [64] [65]

The NRL is available to the rest of the world via either local television networks or online through the official Livestream NRL channel. In particular it is broadcast on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, NBC Sports in the United States, Sportsnet in Canada and BeIN Sport in France.

Detailed Australian coverage


In Australia there are television shows dedicated to discussing the NRL. The programs are listed in order of the day and time viewed in their primary broadcast market:

Former shows:

Internet and new media
Replays of all matches, as well as highlights, are available in Australia from the official NRL LIVE app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone mobile operating systems. [66] Outside of Australia, all matches are available in high definition via the official Livestream NRL channel. [67]

Radio coverage
The NRL has several exclusive rights partners to broadcast matches live via radio nationwide. FM coverage is provided by Triple M while AM coverage is contracted to ABC Local Radio and 2GB. All radio coverage is available to be streamed live from the NRL website.

2GB 873AM Radio has the commercial rights to one Friday night match, the 5:30 pm Saturday game, and the 2 pm Sunday match, covering the game through the Continuous Call Team program. [68] 2GB also air representative games, as well as all matches throughout the finals series, and all three matches on Grand Final day. The coverage is networked to stations across the country, typically those owned by Southern Cross Media Group, Grant Broadcasters and other station groups on the Macquarie Radio Network.

ABC Local Radio has the rights to all NRL matches in the ACT, Queensland and New South Wales, with the exception formally of the Monday night game.

Triple M has exclusive access to Thursday night, Sunday 3 pm and Sunday night matches and is broadcast on commercial stations across the country. [68] Triple M will also broadcast the State of Origin series, the finals series and the Grand Final. [69]

Print
Big League is the competition's official publication, released Thursday and produced by News Magazines. Other News Magazines publications, ALPHA Magazine, regularly publishes league-related stories and interviews, as well as Rugby League Review, a newspaper that reviews the last month.

Theme songs

Video games

There have been many top selling video games made for the Australian rugby league market. The games below are sorted by year released.

Cheerleading

The Flames, the cheersquad for the St. George Illawarra Dragons, performing during an NRL match in 2018. Dragons cheerleaders.jpg
The Flames, the cheersquad for the St. George Illawarra Dragons, performing during an NRL match in 2018.

Most NRL teams have a squad of dancers for cheerleading that are usually involved in dancing, charity work, fundraisers, and modelling. Some Notable NRL cheerleaders are Jennifer Hawkins for the Newcastle Knights, Chloe Butler for the Emeralds and Tabrett Bethell for the Cronulla Sharks Mermaids.

Cheer Squads

NameNRL Club
Hog's Breath Cafe Broncos Cheer Squad [72] Brisbane Broncos
The Emeralds [73] [74] Canberra Raiders
The Sapphires [75] Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Cronulla Sharks Mermaids [76] [77] Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Gold Coast Hogs Breath Cafe Sirens [78] [79] Gold Coast Titans
Manly Seabirds [80] [81] [82] Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Melbourne Storm Cheerleaders [83] Melbourne Storm
Newcastle Knights Cheerleaders [84] Newcastle Knights
North Queensland Cowgirls Spirit [85] North Queensland Cowboys
Parramatta Eels Cheerleaders [86] Parramatta Eels
Penrith Pantherettes [87] [88] Penrith Panthers
St George-Illawarra Flames [89] [90] St. George Illawarra Dragons
The Roosters Girls [91] [92] Sydney Roosters

Records

Official NRL statistics encompass all first grade competitions, namely the New South Wales Rugby League, Australian Rugby League, Super League, and the present day NRL.

Team

Individual

Coaches

Nat.NameClubYear beginning tenureYear as head
coach of Club
Previous clubs
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Anthony Seibold Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos Beginning 20191st Year South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney (2018)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ricky Stuart Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders Beginning 20146th Year Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (2002–06)
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla (2007–10)
Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta (2013)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Dean Pay Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Beginning 20182nd Year-
Flag of Australia (converted).svg John Morris Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Beginning 20191st Year-
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Garth Brennan Gold Coast Titans colours.svg Gold Coast Beginning 20182nd Year-
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Des Hasler Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Beginning 20191st Year Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles (2004–11)
Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (2012–17)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Craig Bellamy Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm Beginning 200317th Year-
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Nathan Brown Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights Beginning 20164th Year St. George colours.svg St. George-Illawarra (2003–08)
Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants (2009–12)
Saintscolours.svg St Helens R.F.C. (2013–14)
Flag of New Zealand.svg Stephen Kearney New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors Beginning 20173rd Year Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels (2011–12)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Paul Green North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys Beginning 20146th Year-
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Brad Arthur Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels Beginning 20146th Year-
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ivan Cleary Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers Beginning 20191st Year New Zealand colours.svg NZ Warriors (2006–11)
Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers (2012–15)
Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers (2017–18)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Wayne Bennett South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs Beginning 20191st Year Canberra colours.svg Canberra (1987)
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane (1988-08)
St. George colours.svg St. George-Illawarra (2009–11)
Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle (2012–14)
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane (2015-18)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Paul McGregor St. George colours.svg St George-Illawarra Dragons Beginning May 20146th Year-
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Trent Robinson Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters Beginning 20137th Year Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons (2011–12)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Michael Maguire Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers Beginning 20191st Year Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors (2010–11)
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney (2012–17)

Premiership Wining Coaches (NRL Era)

NationalityNameNo. Premierships
as head coach
Years
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Wayne Bennett 41998, 2000, 2006, 2010
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Des Hasler 22008, 2011
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Craig Bellamy 22012, 2017
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Trent Robinson 22013, 2018
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Chris Anderson 11999
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Michael Hagan 12001
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ricky Stuart 12002
Flag of Australia (converted).svg John Lang 12003
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Steve Folkes 12004
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Tim Sheens 12005
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Michael Maguire 12014
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Paul Green 12015
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Shane Flanagan 12016

Match officials

Former Parramatta, St. Helens and New Zealand Warriors coach Daniel Anderson was appointed to the position of referee's high performance manager, taking over from former referee Bill Harrigan. [93] [94]

Coaching staff

Referees

Sponsorship

The NRL and its clubs receive significant revenue from sponsorships, with sponsors' logos appearing on most parts of players' and referees' uniforms, the playing surface and even the ball itself. Since 2001, the National Rugby League premiership has been sponsored by Telstra and known as the 'NRL Telstra Premiership'; in earlier seasons, it was simply known as the 'National Rugby League'. [95]

The Telstra Premiership has had five competition logos since 2001. The first, lasting only through the 2001 regular season, was the Telstra logo with an elongated circle enclosing the word Premiership. From the Finals series of 2001 through to the end of 2006 the logo was based around the shape of a football, with the words Telstra Premiership on respective lines along the bottom, culminating with a small football similar to the one in the official NRL logo at the peak. The main colours were dark blue and orange, the corporate colours of Telstra. The company worked with the NRL to create the third logo for the 2007 season onward as part of a new sponsorship deal. This logo was quite similar to the original National Rugby League emblem. From the 2011 Finals Series, a newer logo was commissioned in concert with a corporate re-brand undertaken by Telstra. The 2007 logo remained on club jerseys until 2012 due to the lateness of the change and was phased out in time for the 2013 NRL Season. From 2013, under a dramatic image rebranding of the competition, the Telstra Premiership logo was changed in conjunction with a new sponsorship deal to incorporate the key elements of rugby league in Australia to include the shield and chevrons, the green and gold, a red "Telstra" logo perched above the top of the shield and for the first time the iconic Provan-Summons trophy awarded to the premiers at the end of the season centred in the middle of the badge.

At the end of the 2018 season the NRL launched a bold new look for its Telstra Premiership. The new look aims to modernise the Telstra Premiership brand as well as integrate it more seamlessly with the 16 clubs. The new brand, highlighting the shield and the chevron - which have both been synonymous with Rugby League since the games inception. [96]

Other notable sponsorships include Steeden Official ball supplier Holden [ clarification needed ] for the Under 20s competition (also known as the Holden Cup); The Holden State of Origin series and the Australian Test matches (Holden Kangaroos), Holden (official car of the NRL), Coca-Cola Amatil (match ball), AAMI (referees), Harvey Norman (video referees), Victoria Bitter(official beer of the NRL), Bundaberg Rum (Friday Night Football), Keno (Saturday Football), Webjet (Travel Partner) and Home Timber and Hardware (Sunday Football). [97]

See also

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