National Rugby League


National Rugby League
National Rugby League
Current season or competition:
2012 NRL season
National Rugby League logo
Sport Rugby league football
Formerly known as Australian Rugby League
Instituted 1997
Inaugural season 1908 (1998 as NRL)
Chief executive David Gallop (2002– )
Number of teams 16
Countries  Australia (15 teams)
 New Zealand (1 team)
Premiers Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (2011)
Most titles South Sydney Rabbitohs (20 titles)
Website nrl.com
Broadcast partner

The National Rugby League (NRL) is the top league of professional rugby league football clubs in Australasia. The NRL's main competition, called the Telstra Premiership (due to sponsorship from Telstra Corporation), is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen of which are based in Australia with one based in New Zealand. It is regarded as the world's elite rugby league championship and, per season, is the single most viewed and attended rugby football competition in the world.

The National Rugby League is the present-day embodiment of Australia's top-level domestic club competition, which in turn grew from Sydney's club competition, and which has been running continuously since 1908. The NRL formed in the aftermath of the 1990s' Super League war as a joint partnership between the sport's already-existing national governing body, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and Media giant News Corporation-controlled Super League, after both organisations ran premierships parallel to each other in 1997.[1]

NRL matches are played throughout Australia and New Zealand from Autumn until Spring. 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 largest attended club championship events in the world.[2] In addition, the NRL premiers also play in the World Club Challenge, an additional match against the champions of the European Super League competition.[3]

Contents

Teams

Since 2007 the NRL has consisted of sixteen teams: eight clubs based within Greater Sydney, two elsewhere in New South Wales, three in Queensland, one in Victoria, one each in 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. Below the NRL however are regional affiliated leagues operating in all states and territories of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and neighbouring Pacific Islands.

The map below indicates the locations of teams currently competing in the National Rugby League competition. The inset is of greater Sydney.

The following sixteen clubs are competing in the National Rugby League during the 2010 NRL season. All but four of them (the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys, New Zealand Warriors, and the Gold Coast Titans) have won premierships.

Brisbane Broncos home jersey 2010.svg
Brisbane Broncos
Brisbane, QLD
Ground: Suncorp Stadium
First season: 1988
Canterbury Bulldogs home jersey 1997.svg
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Canterbury-Bankstown, Sydney, NSW
Ground: ANZ Stadium
First season: 1935
Canberra Raiders home jersey 2006.svg
Canberra Raiders
Canberra, ACT
Ground: Canberra Stadium
First season: 1982
Cronulla Sharks home jersey 2010.svg
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Cronulla, Sydney, NSW
Ground: Toyota Stadium
First season: 1967
Gold Coast Titans home jersey 2010.svg
Gold Coast Titans
Gold Coast, QLD
Ground: Skilled Park
First season: 2007
Manly Sea Eagles home jersey 2005.svg
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Manly, Sydney, NSW
Ground: Brookvale Oval
First season: 1947
Melbourne Storm home jersey 2010.svg
Melbourne Storm
Melbourne, VIC
Ground: AAMI Park
First season: 1998
Newcastle Knights home jersey 2008.svg
Newcastle Knights
Newcastle, NSW
Ground: Ausgrid Stadium
First season: 1988
2009
New Zealand Warriors
Auckland, NZ
Ground: Mt Smart Stadium
First season: 1995
North Queensland Cowboys home jersey 2008.svg
North Queensland Cowboys
Townsville, QLD
Ground: Dairy Farmers Stadium
First season: 1995
Parramatta Eels home jersey 2004.svg
Parramatta Eels
Parramatta, Sydney, NSW
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
First season: 1947
Penrith Panthers home jersey 2011.svg
Penrith Panthers
Penrith, Sydney, NSW
Ground: Centrebet Stadium
First season: 1967
St. George Illawarra Dragons home jersey 1999.svg
St. George Illawarra Dragons
Kogarah, Sydney, NSW
Wollongong, NSW
Ground: WIN Jubilee Oval & WIN Stadium
First season: 1999
South Sydney home jersey 1908.svg
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Redfern, Sydney, NSW
Ground: ANZ Stadium
First season: 1908
Eastern Suburbs home jersey 1953.svg
Sydney Roosters
Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, NSW
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
First season: 1908
Wests Tigers home jersey 2008.svg
Wests Tigers
Balmain, Sydney, NSW
Campbelltown, Sydney, NSW
Grounds: Campbelltown Stadium & Leichhardt Oval
First season: 2000

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 National Rugby League Teams. 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, Melbourne, New Zealand, Newcastle, North Queensland, Parramatta, Penrith and Roosters.

Foundation clubs

Two current NRL teams have existed since the 1908 foundation of the NSWRL, the predecessor of the NRL. These teams are the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters (founded as 'Eastern Suburbs'). The Wests Tigers team resulted from a merger between the Western Suburbs Magpies and the Balmain Tigers, both of which were foundation clubs which played in the first grade competition between 1908 and 1999. Despite fielding a join-venture team in the NRL, Western Suburbs and Balmain remain independent clubs and field their own teams in lower-level competitions.

The North Sydney Bears were also a foundation club of the NSWRL in 1909 though are currently playing in the NSW Cup instead of the top level of rugby league. This was after a failed merger with arch rivals the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in 2000 which they ran under the banner of the now defunct Northern Eagles. The North Sydney Bears have proposed readmission to the NRL for the 2013 season which they will be called the Central Coast Bears and play their home games at Gosford where they built their homeground Graham Park.[citation needed]

Former top-grade side Newtown Jets were also a foundation club, but were forced out of the competition after the 1983 season for financial reasons. They now field a team in the NSW Cup.[4]

There also existed Newcastle (who withdrew after 1909 to start a local premiership) and Glebe (also known as "The Dirty Reds" because their colour was maroon) who were removed from the NSWRL premiership in 1929 for "unsporting behaviour".[5] 23 days after the kickoff on 20 April 1908, another team entered from Cumberland. They only ever won one game as they won the wooden spoon in 1908 and did not participate after that.

Famous NRL rivalries

List of premiers

Season Grand Final Information Minor Premiers
Premiers Score Runners-Up
1998 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 38 – 12 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (37 pts)
1999 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 20 – 18 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sutherland Sharks (40 pts)
2000 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 14 – 6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (38 pts)
2001 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights 30 – 24 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels (42 pts)
2002 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 30 – 8 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors (38 pts)
2003 Penrith colours.svg Penrith Panthers 18 – 6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters Penrith colours.svg Penrith Panthers (40 pts)
2004 Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs 16 – 13 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (42 pts)
2005 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 30 – 16 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels (36 pts)
2006 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 15 – 8 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (Melbourne Storm stripped of minor premiership) (44 pts)
2007 (Melbourne Storm stripped of premiership) 34 – 8 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Melbourne Storm stripped of minor premiership) (44 pts)
2008 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 40 – 0 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (Melbourne Storm stripped of minor premiership) (38 pts)
2009 (Melbourne Storm stripped of premiership) 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 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 24 – 10 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (42 pts)

History

Origins

The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) ran the major rugby league competition of New South Wales from its inception in 1908 until 1994, by which time its powers had expanded to run the code nationally. Following the introduction of a new format for interstate rugby league, State of Origin 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 the Brisbane Rugby League premiership. Following the 1983 season, foundation club Newtown Jets were ultimately forced to withdraw from the competition because of financial difficulties.[8]

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 undertaken 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.

Establishment

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, 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' Rupert Murdoch 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.

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 approximately 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.

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.

2003–2005: Record popularity

The 2003 season was widely regarded as the most successful since the beginning of the National Rugby League in 1998. 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.[12] 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.[13] From 2004 to 2005, there was a 39% increase in sponsorship, a 41% increase in merchandise royalties, and a 12% increase in playing participation.[14] 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.[15]

2006: A unique year

The 2006 National Rugby League season kicked off on Friday, 10 March, between defending premiers Wests Tigers and early favourites St. George Illawarra Dragons at Telstra Stadium.

Melbourne, after leading the competition for most of the season, comfortably claimed the minor premiership, with the Bulldogs, Brisbane, and Newcastle making up the top four. Manly, St George Illawarra, Canberra and Parramatta took places five to eight.

The 2006 NRL Grand Final 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 ever.

The game itself once again enjoyed immense support, with more record TV ratings, particularly capturing Melbourne on Grand Final night[citation needed]. Crowds were down on 2005, however were better than any other year prior to that.

2007: Further expansion

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 NRL season kicked off on Friday 16 March 2007 with eight games each round. 2007 also 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 finals series was contested over a period of four weeks and saw the newly privatised South Sydney Rabbitohs return to finals football for the first time in decades. The season culminated with the NRL Grand Final on Sunday 30 September 2007 contested between a resurgent Manly and a Melbourne team looking for redemption from last year's Grand Final loss. Melbourne ran out convincing winners with a 34–8 scoreline and the Grand Final achieved the honour of being the most watched television show in Australia in 2007.[16]

2008: The Centenary

Centenary of Rugby League logo which featured on all teams' jerseys during the 2008 NRL season.

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 44–0.) Furthermore, it was the first time a team had been kept scoreless in a Grand Final since 1978.

2009–2010: The second century begins

After the centenary celebrations of 2008, the 2009 season marks the second century of rugby league competition in Australia. The Grand Final that year was played between the Parramatta Eels and the Melbourne Storm at the ANZ Stadium; Melbourne defeated Parramatta 23 – 16 to make it two premierships out of the last four grand finals for the Storm. The Storm were stripped of these premierships on 22 April 2010 due to gross long-term salary cap breaches between 2006 and 2010 (read more below, Major breaches of the salary cap).

In 2010 the Inaugural All Stars Match was held on 13 February, in conjunction with the Sorry Day reconciliation anniversary in order 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 permanent fixture on the Rugby League calendar with Queensland awarded the hosting rights for the next three years.[18]

The 29th State of Origin series was also played featuring the world's first live free-to-air 3D TV broadcast.[19] 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 in a decade.[20]

In October 2010 it was announced that 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.[21][22]

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.[23]

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

After several years of preparation and build up, on 14 December 2010 the Australian Rugby League and News Corporation finally agreed upon a constitutional framework paving the way for the establishment of a new and independent commission to govern the sport in Australia.

Future

National Rugby League Expansion Bid Clubs

When the Gold Coast Titans were admitted into the 2007 season of the NRL they beat out proposals from Gosford, New South Wales (as the Central Coast Bears) and Wellington, New Zealand (as the Southern Orcas).

CEO David Gallop has stated that the NRL will not consider expansion until mid 2011 due to previous failed expansion efforts during the Super League era.[24] He has however spoken specifically about adding a team in Brisbane,[25][26][27][28][29] Perth,[28][30][31] Adelaide,[31] the Central Coast,[26][27][28] the Sunshine Coast,[26][27][28] and Wellington, New Zealand.[28] Interest in gaining an NRL franchise has also come from Fiji[32] and from the Toowoomba & Darling Downs Region, a rugby league heartland that has no team in the NRL or the Queensland Cup (since the demise of the Toowoomba Clydesdales).

The NRL also has a fund of $8 million for any club that decides to relocate to a 'strategically identified area'.[33]

The NRL is currently assessing a large number of possible franchise locations around Australasia that have the backing of fans, governments and corporate interests. These include:

Australia

Bid Area Home City State Home Ground(s) Bid Club Website Official Launch
Brisbane Brisbane  Queensland Lang Park (52,500) Brisbane Bombers[34] brisbanebombers.com.au 2011, January
Central Coast Gosford
North Sydney
 New South Wales Central Coast Stadium (20,119)
North Sydney Oval (20,000)
Central Coast Bears centralcoastbears.com.au 2005
Central Queensland Rockhampton  Queensland Browne Park (5,200)
New Stadium (25,000)
Central Queensland Comets cqnrlbid.com.au 2009, April
South Australia Adelaide  South Australia Hindmarsh Stadium (16,500) Adelaide Rams -
Sunshine Coast Sunshine Coast  Queensland Stockland Park (12,000) Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles -
Western Australia Perth  Western Australia Perth Oval (20,500)
Upgrade to (25,500)
WA Reds waredsrugbyleague.com.au 2006
Western Corridor Ipswich
Logan
Toowoomba
 Queensland Lang Park (52,500),
Proposed Springfield stadium[35]
Western Corridor westerncorridornrlbid.com.au 2011, May

Oceania

Bid Area Home City Country Home Ground(s) Bid Club Website Official Launch
Central & Southern
New Zealand
Wellington
Christchurch
 New Zealand Westpac Stadium (36,000)
AMI Stadium (38,628)
Southern Orcas - 2005
Fiji Suva  Fiji National Stadium (30,000) Fiji Bati -
Papua New Guinea Port Moresby  Papua New Guinea Lloyd Robson Oval (10,000)
Upgrade to (25,000)
Papua New Guinea Vipers pngnrlbid.com 2008, October

Official franchise bids

There are currently six official bids in progress, all intent on joining the NRL when the current media deal comes up for negotiation around 2012/2013.

 • In 2005 the North Sydney Bears planned on rejoining the league as the Central Coast Bears and basing themselves out of Gosford, New South Wales and will use Central Coast Stadium. The bid team plans to unite the current North Sydney and Central Coast districts under the one team.[36]

 • In 2006 the Western Australia Rugby League announced that the Perth-based WA Reds were to be resurrected with an aim to re-join the NRL in 2013, playing out of nib Stadium. Currently they contest the under-age S. G. Ball Cup, with an aim to having a number of WA-born juniors when the bid joins the NRL[37]

 • In October 2008, a Papua New Guinea bid team was launched with government funding and support.[38] An official website was launched in September 2009 detailing the progress of the PNG bid and its aim to provide social and economic benefits for the country as a whole[39]

 • In April 2009, a consortium from the Central Queensland region declared their intent to launch a bid for an NRL franchise to be based in Rockhampton in the next expansion period.[40] The bid is aiming to be a new club by 2013.[41]

 • In August 2010, the Ipswich Jets formally announced the creation of a bid team for 2013 with the future club to based in the Ipswich-West Brisbane corridor in order to capitalise on the massive population boom projected for that region. The move would effectively see the promotion of the existing local Queensland Cup side to the higher NRL premiership.[42]

 • In January 2011, David Gallop, CEO of the NRL, confirmed he had spoken to a bid team delegate seeking to create Brisbane's second team who would be based in south Brisbane area. If their bid is successful they would play at Suncorp Stadium on alternate weekends to the Brisbane Broncos.[43] The club launched its name and branding on 14 July 2011, as the Brisbane Bombers.[34]

Structure

A Partnership Executive Committee administers the agreement between the Australian Rugby League and News Limited as well as making major financial decisions.[44] Three representatives from each party make up this committee. A National Rugby League Board, which is commissioned by the Partnership Committee and is composed of six delegates – three from each party – is responsible for administering the competition. Both bodies nominate a Chairman to lead each board for a term of 12 months on an alternating basis.[44]

The National Rugby League markets the premiership on behalf of the clubs as well as organising the draw and finals matches. When the draw is finalised, teams are responsible for controlling and organising their assigned home games. Clubs each have their own organisational structure but are also bound to the National Rugby League by a common set of rules in club agreements.[44]

In late November/early December each year the NRL holds a conference for CEOs, coaches and players to discuss issues facing the League.

Competition format and sponsorship

Regular 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. Games are then played every weekend until the end of September. In most rounds, two matches are played on Friday night, three on Saturday night, two on Sunday afternoon and one on Monday night.

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.

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.

Finals

The eight highest placed teams at the end of the regular season compete in the finals series, which is contested using the McIntyre Final Eight System. This system has been used for every NRL season with the exception of the first, in 1998.[45] The system consists of a number of knockout and sudden-death games between the top eight teams over four weeks in August and September, until only two teams remain. These two teams then contest the Grand Final, which is usually played on the first Sunday of October. In the first week of the finals, the top four seeds play at their respective home grounds. In week two, matches are played within the home city of the two lower seeded winning teams from week one. In week three, teams play within the home regions of the two seeded winning teams from week one.

Grand final

The NRL Grand Final, which determines the season's premiers, is one of Australasia's major sporting events, typically attracting large attendances and high television ratings. The game itself is usually preceded by an opening ceremony featuring entertainment from well-known Australasian and international musical acts. The Prime Minister of Australia is also usually on hand for the trophy-presenting ceremony. In 1998 the Grand Final was held at the Sydney Football Stadium. Since then, it has been contested at Stadium Australia, which was the primary athletics venue for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.[46] The first year it was held at Stadium Australia, the NRL Grand Final broke the world record for attendance at a rugby league game. In June 2006, the NRL announced that the Grand Final will continue to be held at the Stadium until at least 2012, after which the possibility of the game being moved interstate will be considered if certain circumstances arise.[47] However, in mid 2010 it was announced that the New South Wales Government secured the grand final for Stadium Australia until 2022 for $45 million.[48]

The NRL trophy is awarded to the winner of the Grand Final

Each year the 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 Grand Final has traditionally been played on Sunday afternoons, but between 2001 and 2007 the Grand Final was played at night, in order to coincide with the primetime period on television. Because this meant that the game finished late at night, the NRL feared losing younger audiences. From 2008, a compromise was reached between official broadcaster Channel 9's preferred starting time of 8 pm and the traditional starting time of 3 pm, with the Grand Final beginning at 5 pm AEST.[49]

It has become traditional for the NRL trophy, which is based on the former premiership trophy, the Winfield Cup, to be delivered to the stadium by helicopter shortly before kick off. The player judged to be the man-of-the-match by the Australian national team selectors is awarded the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal. The Australian Prime Minister usually presents the winning team of the grand final with the trophy after the match. In addition, members of the winning team are presented with premiership rings.[50]

Sponsorship

The Telstra Premiership logo.

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'.[51]

The Telstra Premiership has had three 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. The main colours were blue and orange, the corporate colours of Telstra. The company worked with the NRL to create the current logo (pictured) for the 2007 season onward as part of a new sponsorship deal. This new logo is quite similar to the original National Rugby League emblem.

Other notable sponsorships include Toyota (official car of the NRL), Powerade (match ball), AAMI (referees), Harvey Norman (video referees), Victoria Bitter (official beer of the NRL), Bundaberg Rum (Friday Night Football), Keno (Saturday Football) and Home Timber and Hardware (Sunday Football).[52]

Non-traditional venues

Since 1998 NRL clubs have played both trial matches and premiership season games in areas that do not have representation in the NRL.

Competition rules and representative season

Salary cap

In 1990, the NSWRL introduced a salary cap system to even the playing field of teams in the Winfield Cup.[53] The National Rugby League has adopted the salary cap system from its predecessor. A special team deals with salary cap issues and monitors teams on a yearly basis.[54] Each club is allowed A$4.6875 million per season to contract 25 players, with a minimum salary of $55,000, setting an effective upper limit of about $500,000 for the game's best players.[55]

Payment Structure for the Top 25 Players 2010

+$200,000 Sponsor Servicing Allowance (automatically given to all clubs to compensate players for club sponsorship activities including appearances and endorsements).

+$100,000 Long Serving Player Allowance (players who have played eight continuous years of grade football with that club including Toyota Cup and NSW Cup).

+$100,000 Paid to the RLPA retirement fund and towards RLPA contributions

  • Payments under the actual salary cap total $4.6875 million paid directly by clubs across the top 25 players. A further $100,000 is paid into the RLPA retirement fund contribution but is not defined as a salary cap payment.



What Players can earn outside of the Salary Cap

+$150,000 Marquee Player Allowance (any or all of the top 10 players at each club can share in payments made by club sponsors seeking to use a player’s intellectual property. A cap of $50,000 per player applies).

Unlimited Players can earn unlimited amounts from corporate sponsors who are not associated with the club and who do not use the game’s intellectual property (no club logos, jerseys or emblems) provided these are pre-approved.

Unlimited Tertiary education, approved traineeships, medical insurance costs, relocation/temporary accommodation costs are not included in the cap but must be approved.

Payments for players outside the Top25

+$350,000 Cap for all players outside of the top 25 who compete in the Telstra Premiership.

The cap is actively policed[56] 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.[57]

Major breaches of the cap

In 2002, the Canterbury 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 totaling $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, the Melbourne Storm were stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premierships, 2006–2008 minor premierships and the 2010 World Club Challenge trophy, fined a record $1.689 million ($1.1 million in NRL prize money which will be equally distributed between the remaining 15 clubs, $89,000 in prize money from the World Club Challenge which will be distributed to the Leeds Rhinos, and the maximum of $500,000 for breaching the salary cap regulations), ordered to cut their payroll by $1.0125 million, deducted all eight premiership points received during the season and barred from receiving premiership points for the remainder of the season after 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, including $303,000 in 2006, $459,000 in 2007, $957,000 in 2008, $1.021 million in 2009 and $1.04 million in 2010. The points penalty meant that the club won the 2010 wooden spoon (North Queensland would have finished last if not for the breaches). Legal action by the former directors of the club against the penalties collapsed, and the matter has been referred to ASIC, the Australian Tax Office, the Victorian State Revenue Office, and the Victoria Police.[58] The club's former CEO Brian Waldron and financial officers Matt Hanson, Paul Gregory and Cameron Vale are all facing lifetime suspensions. Players were still eligible for Test and/or State of Origin selection.

Judiciary

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.[59][60]

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. These include:

Media coverage

A 2004 match between Brisbane Broncos and the Bulldogs

The NRL provides six of the top seven and 78 of the top 100 programs on Australian subscription television.[61] It is the second most watched sports league on Australian television, with an aggregate audience of 113,025,367 million viewers in 2009.[62]

Coverage history

Professional club rugby league in Australia has been revolutionised by television, with a shift away from daytime games to night-time games over recent years to better suit the official television broadcasters, Channel 9 and Fox Sports. This even extended to the Grand Final, which from 2001 to 2007 was shifted from 3 pm on Sunday to 7 pm Sunday night to better suit broadcasters. It has been moved back to 5 pm Sunday from 2008 onwards.

Free-to-air coverage for Channel 9 viewers in states other than New South Wales or Queensland is delayed until later at night to make way for other programming by Channel 9. The late showing has upset fans in those state, especially in Victoria, but their call for change had remained unheard by the NRL and Channel 9.

The Fox Sports, which broadcast its first rugby league matches during the 1997 Super League season, has broadcast the remaining National Rugby League matches exclusively live since the competition's inception in 1998. In 2007, "Monday Night Football" was added to Fox Sport's rugby league coverage.

In 2003 the Grand Final was broadcast live in the United States by Fox Sports World.[63]

Current television coverage

Domestic

  • Friday Night Football starts at 7:30 pm and consists of two matches shown on Channel 9 free-to-air television in New South Wales and Queensland. Both games are played concurrently, with one broadcast live and the other shown on delay immediately after the first, usually at 9:30 pm. In many cases, the order in which the games are shown differs in different television markets. For instance, a match featuring a Queensland team, would usually be shown first in Queensland markets, but might be broadcast second in New South Wales if a popular Sydney team were playing in the other match. Both matches are broadcast after midnight on Saturday morning in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
  • Super Saturday includes one Toyota Cup afternoon game at 3:15 pm, followed by that game's corresponding Telstra Premiership match at 5:30 pm. This is then followed by two consecutive NRL matches beginning at 7:30 pm, one of which is shown live and one on delay immediately after the conclusion of the 7.30 pm game. Providing that the viewer has Foxtel Digital or Austar Digital, they can use a tool called Viewer's Choice. Viewer's Choice gives the viewer a choice of either game played at 7:30 pm to be shown live. All four games are shown on Fox Sports.
  • NRL Sunday is a 2:00 pm match broadcast live on Fox Sports.
  • Sunday Football is broadcast on Channel 9. The match normally kicks off at 3:00 pm, but the broadcast is delayed until 4:00 pm, running until 6:00 pm in order to provide a strong lead-in to Channel 9's evening news. These broadcasts are aired after midnight on Monday mornings in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
  • Monday Night Football is televised live from 7:00 pm by Fox Sports.

Note: Saturday and Sunday broadcast schedules can also vary, with less Saturday and more Sunday matches. This is dependent on the scheduling of matches for the New Zealand Warriors played in Auckland, New Zealand and a number of other factors including daylight saving time.

  • The State of Origin series is shown live in most states on Channel 9. Viewers in Adelaide and Perth usually receive alternative programming such as episodes of the popular sitcom Two and a Half Men before a delayed telecast of the game is broadcast later in the evening.
  • The NRL Grand Final is shown live in every state on Channel 9, with New South Wales and Queensland receiving up to 10 hours of continuous pre-game and post-game coverage. The game is also shown live in New Zealand, with ratings improving since the introduction of a 7 pm (NZST) kick-off – plus in various other countries around the world via local broadcasters.

International

The NRL is televised internationally with the following channels being the main telecast partners overseas.

  • Australia Network – Provides free-to-air coverage to overseas locales in the Asia-Pacific region and India. Covers the Grand Final live.[64]
  • Sky Sport in New Zealand has coverage of all the NRL games including both LIVE games on Sunday with a delayed option available later in the night.[65]
  • Setanta Sports: From 2006 until June 2009 (when Setanta went into administration and then ceased broadcasting in Great Britain), viewers in the UK, Republic of Ireland, USA and Canada would receive 2–3 LIVE and/or replayed games from each of the weekly rounds, plus all the playoffs, the Grand Final and all three State of Origin matches live. This deal included test matches involving Australia, except for those when Australia played Great Britain.[66] Setanta still broadcasts in Canada as of 2010 and provides live and delayed coverage of several NRL games a week during the summer when soccer goes on hiatus.
  • Spike TV – A landmark deal was agreed in 2009 whereby NRL finals matches would be beamed into 100 million homes in the United States and Canada. It is the first time NRL games have become available on basic cable in the U.S.[67] *America One's One World Sports have announced a 3 year deal starting in 2010 to broadcast NRL games in the United States and the Caribbean. The broadcast will potentially reach an audience of 35 million households.[68]

The 2009 NRL preliminary finals and Grand Final were broadcast LIVE on TV in the UK and Ireland on the new ESPN UK channel.[69][70] BigPond and the NRL have reached an agreement to stream selected remaining games live into the UK and Ireland, over BigPond's web portal service.[71]

For the remainder of the 2010 Telstra Premiership, and for the 2011/2012 seasons, sports channel Premier Sports, (channel 433 on the Sky platform) will feature at least three Telstra Premiership games from each round of matches.

Games will be shown free of charge for the first two months from 16 April 10:30 am UK Time, after which they will be available via subscription. The NRL Grand Final, State of Origin series and all International matches will be screened LIVE in the UK and Republic of Ireland on Sky Sports to all customers that subscribe to the Sky Sports channels.

Omnisport (owned and operated by Perform Media Channels Limited) has also signed a similar agreement to stream matches on pay-per-view LIVE in selected territories around the world through the omnisport.tv website.[72]

  • The UK secured new broadcasting rights in 2010 which will see 3 games televised each week including international and representative matches. Fans will also be able to see the NRL’s new weekly half-hour international highlights show, ‘NRL Full-time’, with Sky Sports joining Starhub (Singapore), Dahlia TV (Italy), Orbit Showtime Network (Middle East) and V Australia (in-flight) in broadcasting the program.

These new agreements have seen the NRL significantly expand its international television broadcast reach to now include North America, Africa, Italy, the Middle East, PNG and the Asia Pacific region, as well as online subscription services for international supporters.[73]

NRL-related television programs

In Australia, there are several television shows dedicated to talking about NRL. These programs, as of March 2011, are:

  • The NRL Footy Show (airs Thursdays, 9.30 pm, Channel Nine in NSW, Qld, NT and the ACT: screens after 11.15 pm in all other areas of Australia): a variety show with discussions about current-round games and issues, competitions, live bands, and sketches
  • The Sunday Footy Show (Sundays, 11.00 am, Channel Nine in NSW, QLD, NT and the ACT): a recap of Friday and Saturday's games, and preview of Sunday's and Monday's games
  • The Sunday Roast (Sundays, Midday, Channel Nine in NSW, QLD, NT and the ACT), a show dedicated to discussing the heavy issues, controversies, and playing tactics currently developing
  • The Game Plan (Thursdays, 8.30 pm, on ONE HD)
  • One Week at a Time (Mondays, at 9.30 pm, on ONE HD), recapping the weekend games
  • There also exists numerous off-beat rugby shows on Fox Sports, typically on the Monday/Tuesday after the round.

Former shows:

  • The Matty Johns Show (Thursdays, 7.30 pm, Channel Seven in NSW, QLD, NT and the ACT except Darwin: after midnight in all other regions of Australia), a more sketch-and-regular-segment-oriented version of The Footy Show and

Internet

Replays of NRL matches, as well as highlights and NRL-related informational programming are available in Australia from BigPond.[71] Telstra's ISP. Outside of Australia, these programs are sold by Aussie Sport TV.

Radio coverage

The NRL has several games broadcast live on the radio.

2GB 873AM Radio has the commercial rights to one Friday game, the 5:30 pm Saturday game, and a Sunday game of their choice, covering the game through the Continuous Call Team program. They also air many 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 except Monday night games. Exceptions to this include Monday night games of regional teams including the Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders, those games still air on their respective local ABC stations.

Triple M (Sydney) covers the Monday Night game[74] and is broadcast on commercial stations across the country.

Print

In print media, there are two major magazines: Rugby League Week is produced by ACP Magazines and is generally released on Wednesdays between rounds; Big League is the competition's official publication, released Thursday and produced by News Magazines. Another News Magazines publication, ALPHA Magazine, regularly publishes league-related stories and interviews.

Theme songs

1985–1988: The Boys Are Back In TownThin Lizzy
1989: What You Get Is What You SeeTina Turner
1990–1995: Simply The BestTina Turner
1997 (SL): Two TribesFrankie Goes To Hollywood
1997 (ARL): It's My Game – NSWRL
1998: TubthumpingChumbawamba
1999: Blow That Whistle – Thomas Keneally
2000: What A Game – Tom Jones
2001: Racing Car Noises over Action Highlights
2003–2007: That's My Team – Hoodoo Gurus
2008: Centenary of Rugby League Campaign
2009: Feels Like Woah – Wes Carr
2010: Fan Voices over Action Highlights
2011: This Is Our House – Bon Jovi[75]

Players

National Rugby League footballers are some of Australasia's most famous athletes, commanding multi-million dollar playing contracts as well as sponsorship deals. Each club in the NRL has a "top squad" of twenty-five players, who are signed under the salary cap, as described above. For the most part, the players who play in NRL matches are sourced from these top squads. Occasionally during a season, however, the need may arise for a club to use players outside these 25, and in this case players are usually sourced from the club's corresponding Toyota Cup side or feeder club (such as the relevant New South Wales Cup or Queensland Cup squad).[76][77][78][79]

The players voted to be the best in each position at the end of the season are honoured at the annual Dally M Awards, with the player of the year awarded the Dally M Medal. The man of the match in the Grand Final is awarded the Clive Churchill Medal.

Indigenous Australians in the NRL

The first Indigenous Australian to play in the precursor to the 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 standout rugby league test players Arthur Beetson (the first Aborigine to captain an Australian national team in any sport) and current Test match representatives Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis. A Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report found that 11% of NRL players in 2006 were of Aboriginal descent,[80][81] (By way of comparison, only 2.3% of the Australian population identified themselves as Indigenous in the 2006 Australian census.).[82] A 2009 survey of NRL players showed that 47 players, or 10.9 per cent, in its clubs' full-time squads are indigenous with a slightly higher figure for under-20s competition.[83]

On 13 February 2010 at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, the NRL will hold an "indigenous all stars" game. It is to be a indigenous Australian verse non-indigenous Australian and New Zealander game of the top players from their respective backgrounds. The Indigenous All-Stars will be a 20 man squad voted by the public. The non-indigenous squad will consist of the Australian and New Zealand national teams captains and vice captains and one player from each of the sixteen NRL clubs.

Record statistics (1998+)

Top scorers in the National Rugby League
Rank Player Points
1 Australia Hazem El Masri 2,418
2 Australia Andrew Johns 2,176
3 Australia Jason Taylor 2,107
4 New Zealand Daryl Halligan 2,034
5 Australia Luke Burt[84] 1,659
6= Australia Craig Fitzgibbon 1,604
6= Australia Clinton Schifcofske 1,604
8 Australia Brett Hodgson 1,549
9 Australia Matt Orford 1,500
10 Australia Mat Rogers 1,355
As of 9 November 2011.

The Brisbane Broncos (1998, 2000 and 2006) have the distinction of winning the most premierships (three) since the creation of the National Rugby League. The Melbourne Storm had also won three premierships until being stripped of two of these premierships in April 2010.[85][86]

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs hold the record for the most consecutive wins, having won 17 matches in a row between 31 March 2002 and 3 August 2002.[87] However this was the year that it was discovered that they had gone over the salary cap by $2 million. The Parramatta Eels set the records for the highest score and margin of victory in a 74–4 victory over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks on 23 August 2003.[88] The most victories achieved within a regular season is 21 (excluding a further 3 wins in the finals series), was held by the Melbourne Storm in 2007.[89]

Since the first National Rugby League season in 1998, a total of six players have topped the scorers list in a season. However, the only player to have won the title more than once is Hazem El Masri, the overall top scorer in the National Rugby League's history, having claimed the title in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009. Hazem El Masri was leading the top scoring table in 2005 until sidelined through injury. His tally of 342 points in 2004[90] remains the most points scored by an individual in a season. He is also the 2000s' most-served player with 249 games (out of 259);[91] at a match in 2004 he equaled the record for most successful goals with 35 (a feat which he also nearly matched that year in international tests); he is the third most successful goal-scorer in the NRl with 891 two-pointers to his name (beaten by Jason Taylor with 941 and Andrew Johns with 917); and he is tied fifth on most tries scored with 159.

Nigel Vagana's 154 tries scored across all nine seasons of the National Rugby League[92] makes him the most prolific try scorer in the competition's history ( as Ken Irvine and Steve Menzies, the games actual highest try scorers, played before the creation of the NRL). Nathan Blacklock holds the record for the most tries in a season, with 27 scored in 2001[93] for his team, the St. George Illawarra Dragons.

Terry Campese holds the record for the most points scored in a game with 36 points in a match featuring Canberra vs Panthers Round 22 2008 (Canberra 74 defeated Penrith 12).[94] Only four players have scored five tries in a game; Francis Meli, Jamie Lyon, Nigel Vagana, and Nathan Merritt.[94]

It should be noted, however, that none of these are official records, as the NRL does not differentiate between the various top level competitions.

Match officials

Referees

  • Tony Archer
  • Gavin Badger
  • Matt Checchin
  • Ben Cummins
  • Tony De Las Heras
  • Adam Devcich
  • Phil Haines
  • Shane Hayne
  • Chris James
  • Ashley Klein
  • Steve Lyons
  • Jared Maxwell
  • Gavin Morris
  • Henry Perenara
  • Luke Phillips
  • Alan Shortall
  • Gerard Sutton
  • Brett Suttor
  • Gavin Reynolds
  • Jason Robinson

See also

History:

Other Governing Bodies/Teams/Competitions:

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