Rugby league in Victoria

Rugby league in Victoria

Rugby league in Victoria, Australia, dates back to 1889 but disappeared until the 1930s. It took until 1998 for the first local team in national competition to be founded, the Melbourne Storm.


Melbourne sent its first rugby football team to play in New South Wales in 1889, but the game more or less disappeared until the 1930s. In 1924 Victoria played against the visiting British Lions on the first game of their tour (losing 45-13 at Fitzroy Cricket Ground). The odd match was taken to Melbourne over the following decades - the most notorious being in 1979 when Manly and Wests initiated their 'fibros v silvertails' battles.

The NSWRL had let Melbourne host a number of premiership games during the early 1990s. In 1991 the St Kilda VFL club made an unsuccessful attempt to have NSWRL games played on their Moorabbin Ground, later the Sydney Tigers briefly played games at Princess Park in 1994. However, attendances for Test matches and State of Origin games in the 1990s had been strong. The 1990 State of Origin played in Olympic Park, attracted a crowd of 25,000. Another 160,000 was attracted in three matches at the MCG (1994, 1995 and 1997). Whether a Melbourne rugby league club could be a success on a weekly basis against Australian Rules Football was another question.

Moves towards a team

In August 1991 the NSWRL began to express interest for its 1993 competition, and made a request to the Victorian Rugby League to put forward a proposal. The local League showed significant hesitation, indicating that the game had little support to build upon.However during 1993 ARL Chairman Ken Arthurson made it clear that he remained positive about Melbourne and thought it had much to offer. Former Melbourne CEO Chris Johns said; "John and I had been with the Broncos from day one and we had learnt first-hand how the club had progressed in 10 years to become a 'super club'. Melbourne had three times the population of Brisbane and the people down there just love their sport".

Plans to enter Melbourne gained momentum in November 1994 when both the ARL and the organisers of the (then called) News Ltd rebel competition both began initiatives to fast track their own teams in the Victorian capital.In 1996, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) decided to establish a Melbourne based team due to the high attendances at recent State of Origin matches. But in May 1997, Super League boss John Ribot pushed for a Melbourne based club in the Super League competition, which was the rival against the ARL competition. Former Brisbane Broncos centre Chris Johns became the CEO of the club and Ribot stepped down from head of the Super League to set up the club. In September 1997, Melbourne announced that Chris Anderson would be their foundation coach, and then the Super League announced that their new team will be named the Melbourne Storm.

National Rugby League

The National Rugby League (NRL) is Australia's top level competition for the sport of rugby league.

The Melbourne Storm are Victoria's only side in the National Rugby League. They have played every season since the NRL's commencement in 1998. They have won the premiership in 1999 and 2007.

Victorian Rugby League

The Victorian Rugby League governs the game in Australia. The three main competitions are the Melbourne Rugby League, the Central Highlands Rugby League and the Goulburn Murray Rugby League. Some Melbourne Rugby League games have been played pre-match before senior Storm games. These have since been replaced by the National Youth Competition. The most recent premiers have been the Doveton Steelers.]

=Players in the NRL=

Among the Melbourne-born players to play in the NRL have included:

Jake Webster: leagueicon|Melbourne|size=16Melbourne Storm, leagueicon|Gold Coast Titans|size=16Gold Coast Titans.

Timana Tahu: leagueicon|Newcastle|size=16Newcastle Knights, leagueicon|Parramatta|size=16 Parramatta Eels.

Craig Polla-Mounter: leagueicon|Bulldogs|size=16 Canterbury.

ee also

* Rugby league in Australia
* Sport in Victoria

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