|National Rugby League|
|Current competition: 2010 NRL season|
|Formerly known as||Australian Rugby League|
|Chief Executive||David Gallop (2002- )|
|Number of teams||16|
|Premiers||Melbourne Storm (2009)|
The National Rugby League (NRL) is the top league of professional rugby league football clubs in Australasia. The NRL's main competition (known as the Telstra Premiership for sponsorship reasons), is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen of which are based in Australia with one based in New Zealand. It is the Southern Hemisphere's elite rugby league championship and the most attended rugby football competition in the world.
The National Rugby League is the present-day embodiment of Australia's top-level domestic rugby league 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 News Corporation-controlled Super League, after both organisations ran premierships parallel to each other in 1997.
NRL matches are played throughout Australia as well as New Zealand from Autumn until Spring, culminating in a Grand Final match, traditionally one of Australia's most popular sporting events, to determine the season's premiers. Each year the NRL champions play an additional game against the premiers of the European Super League competition in the World Club Challenge.
Since 2007 the NRL has consisted of ten clubs based in New South Wales, three in Queensland, one in Victoria, one in the Australian Capital Territory and one in New Zealand. The league operates on a single group system, with no divisions or conferences and no relegation and promotion from other leagues.
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 Sharks, Cowboys, Warriors and Titans) have won premierships.
|Club||Location||Home Ground(s)||First season|
|Brisbane Broncos||Brisbane, QLD||Suncorp Stadium||1988|
|Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||Sydney, NSW||ANZ Stadium||1935|
|Canberra Raiders||Canberra, ACT||Canberra Stadium||1982|
|Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks||Sydney, NSW||Toyota Stadium||1967|
|Gold Coast Titans||Gold Coast, QLD||Skilled Park||2007|
|Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||Sydney, NSW||Brookvale Oval||1947|
|Melbourne Storm||Melbourne, VIC||AAMI Park||1998|
|New Zealand Warriors||Auckland, NZ||Mt Smart Stadium||1995|
|Newcastle Knights||Newcastle, NSW||EnergyAustralia Stadium||1988|
|North Queensland Cowboys||Townsville,QLD||Dairy Farmers Stadium||1995|
|Parramatta Eels||Sydney, NSW||Parramatta Stadium||1947|
|Penrith Panthers||Penrith, NSW||CUA Stadium||1967|
|St. George Illawarra Dragons||Sydney, NSW
|WIN Jubilee Oval and WIN Stadium||1999|
|South Sydney Rabbitohs||Sydney, NSW||ANZ Stadium||1908|
|Sydney Roosters||Sydney, NSW||Sydney Football Stadium||1908|
|Wests Tigers||Sydney, NSW||Campbelltown Stadium, Leichhardt Oval and Sydney Football Stadium||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, Bulldogs, Canberra, Cronulla, Melbourne, New Zealand, Newcastle, North Queensland, Parramatta, Penrith and Roosters.
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'). Wests Tigers could also be considered a foundation club, although it has only existed as a merged entity since 2000. 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 sharing a common NRL team, 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 1908 though are currently playing in the NSW Cup instead of the top level of Rugby League. This was due to 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.
|Season||Grand Final Information||Minor Premiers|
|1998||Brisbane Broncos||38 – 12||Canterbury Bulldogs||Brisbane Broncos (37 pts)|
|1999||Melbourne Storm||20 – 18||St. George Illawarra Dragons||Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (40 pts)|
|2000||Brisbane Broncos||14 – 6||Sydney Roosters||Brisbane Broncos (38 pts)|
|2001||Newcastle Knights||30 – 24||Parramatta Eels||Parramatta Eels (42 pts)|
|2002||Sydney Roosters||30 – 8||New Zealand Warriors||New Zealand Warriors (38 pts)|
|2003||Penrith Panthers||18 – 6||Sydney Roosters||Penrith Panthers (40 pts)|
|2004||Bulldogs||16 – 13||Sydney Roosters||Sydney Roosters (42 pts)|
|2005||Wests Tigers||30 – 16||North Queensland Cowboys||Parramatta Eels (36 pts)|
|2006||Brisbane Broncos||15 – 8||Melbourne Storm||Melbourne Storm (44 pts)|
|2007||Melbourne Storm||34 – 8||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||Melbourne Storm (44 pts)|
|2008||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||40 – 0||Melbourne Storm||Melbourne Storm (38 pts)|
|2009||Melbourne Storm||23 – 16||Parramatta Eels||St. George-Illawarra Dragons (38 pts)|
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. 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.
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. 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.
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, 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 the 19th of 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. 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, while the ARL decided to close down the South Queensland Crushers, who were also in severe financial trouble. 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.
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. St. George were the first club to take up the offer, and they merged with the Illawarra Steelers at the end of 1998. The Bulldogs continued in their present form without merging in 1999, however dropped the Canterbury from their club name to simply become known as the Bulldogs.
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-merged 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 merged to form 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.
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. 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. From 2004 to 2005, there was a 39% increase in sponsorship, a 41% increase in merchandise royalties, and a 12% increase in playing participation. 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 2005, a record national audience of 4.1 million tuned into watch the grand final between the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys.
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. 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 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.
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: Full-back: Clive Churchill; Wingers: Ken Irvine, Brian Bevan; Centres: Reg Gasnier, Mal Meninga; Five-eighth: Wally Lewis; Half-back: Andrew Johns; Lock: John Raper; Second Row: Norm Provan, Ron Coote; Props: Arthur Beetson, Duncan Hall; Hooker: Noel Kelly; Reserves: Graeme Langlands, Dally Messenger, Bob Fulton, Frank Burge; Coach: Jack Gibson.
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. Furthermore, it was the first time a team had been kept scoreless in a Grand Final since 1978.
After the centenary celebrations of 2008, the 2009 season marks the second century of rugby league competition in Australia. The competition began in mid-March. The Grand final this year was played between the Parramatta Eels v Melbourne Storm at the ANZ Stadium. Melbourne Storm defeated Parramatta Eels 23 - 16, to make it 2 premierships out of the last 4 grand-finals for Melbourne Storm.
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). Both teams are still looking forward to joining the NRL in the next expansion period, speculated to be a year before the current TV deal comes up for renewal in 2013.
David Gallop has stated that the NRL will not consider expansion until mid 2011 due to previous failed expansion efforts. The NRL also has a fund of $8 million for any club that decides to relocate to a 'strategically identified area'.
There are currently five official bids in progress, all intent on joining the NRL when the current media deal comes up for negotiation around 2012/2013.
• The North Sydney Bears are planning 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.
• 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. Currently the team is playing in the underage S. G. Ball Cup, with an aim to having a number of WA-born juniors when the bid joins the NRL 
• In October 2008, a Papua New Guinea bid team was launched with government funding and support. 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 
• 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. The bid is aiming to be a new club by 2013.
• The Wellington-based Southern Orcas bid team was competitive in the last expansion period but lost out to the Gold Coast Titans. Since then they have applied unsuccessfully to join Europe's Super League.
NRL CEO David Gallop has spoken specifically about adding teams in West Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, the Central Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Wellington, New Zealand. Interest in gaining an NRL franchise has also come from Fiji .
A Partnership Executive Committee administers the agreement between the Australian Rugby League and News Limited as well as making major financial decisions. 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.
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.
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.
There are currently sixteen clubs in the National Rugby League. Teams are divided into two equal pools of eight at the completion of each season, with each pool of equal strength based on that season's results. During the course of the regular season (which lasts until August) each club plays a total of two games against each team in the opposite pool, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponent's for a total of sixteen games for each club. Teams play six of those seven others in their own group just once during the season, and play the remaining club twice. This results in each team playing 24 games, with two byes in the 26-week regular season, for a total of 192 games.
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.
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. 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.
The NRL Grand Final 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. 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.
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 5pm AEST.
The winning team of the grand final is presented with the NRL trophy, which is based on the former premiership trophy, the Winfield Cup. In addition, members of the winning team are presented with premiership rings.
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'.
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 Coke Zero (ball), Victoria Bitter (Friday Night Football), Bundaberg Rum (Monday Night Football), AAMI (referee uniform and touch judge flags) and TAB Sportsbet (official betting agency of the NRL) and also KFC (Friday night's man of the match).
Since 1998 NRL clubs have played both trial matches and premiership season games in areas that do not have representation in the NRL.
In 1990 the NSWRL introduced a salary cap system to even the playing field of teams in the Winfield Cup. 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. Each club is allowed AU$4.1 million per season to contract 25 players, with a minimum salary of just over $50,000, setting an effective upper limit of about $500,000 for the game's best players.
The cap is actively policed and clubs found to be in breach of its rules usually incur a fine. 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 has investigated other ways of creating a fair and more beneficial cap for players and clubs.
However in mid-2002, the Bulldogs were found guilty of serious and systematic breaches. In addition to a more substantial fine, they were stripped of their competition points accumulated to that date, and hence denied a place in the finals. As the club had been leading the competition table prior to the penalty's imposition, this was a shattering outcome for the club and its fans.
In the 2006 pre-season the New Zealand Warriors revealed that their former management had rorted the salary cap in the 2004 and 2005 seasons. As a punishment the club was stripped of four competition points for 2006 and fined $430,000. They also had to play the 2007 season under a reduced salary cap.
After the completion of round 7, 2008, several clubs were fined for breaches in 2007. The hardest hit were the South Sydney Rabbitohs with a $70,000 fine, unfortunately coinciding with an alcohol-related incident involving five of the club's players, including the captain.
As well as playing for their club in the National Rugby League premiership season, players are sometimes entitled to play in a number of representative competitions that are conducted by the Australian Rugby League at the same time. These competitions include the one-off ANZAC Tests, World Cup competitions, Four Nations series, State of Origin series and the New South Wales City vs Country Origin series. In order for a player to qualify for a representative team in these competitions, they must firstly be eligible to be chosen for the side, based on a process of qualification (which involves the standard of play at club level).
The NRL provides six of the top seven and 78 of the top 100 programs on subscription television.
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 3pm on Sunday to 7pm Sunday night to better suit broadcasters. It has been moved back to 5pm 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 states but their call for change had remained unheard by the NRL and Channel 9.
The News Limited-owned Foxtel Pay-TV network, 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 Foxtel's rugby league coverage.
In 2003 the Grand Final was broadcast live in the United States by Foxports World as it had been since 2001.
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.
The NRL grand final's popularity in New Zealand can never reclaim the status in New Zealand that it formerly captured when it was played in the afternoon.
The NRL is televised internationally with the following channels being the main telecast partners overseas.
The 2009 NRL preliminary finals and Grand Final were be broadcast LIVE on TV in the UK and Ireland on the new ESPN UK channel. More information on match coverage for the 2010 season and beyond has not been confirmed, but will be made public at some point in future. 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.
Omnisport (owned and operated by Perform Media Channels Limited) performgroup.com/omnisport 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.
Replays of NRL matches, as well as highlights and NRL-related informational programming are available in Australia from BigPond. Telstra's ISP. Outside of Australia, these programs are sold by Aussie Sport TV.
The NRL has several games broadcast live on the radio.
In New South Wales, 2GB radio has exclusive rights on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday games, as well as the Finals Series. The 'on-air team' on 2GB are known as the Continuous Call Team. On Fridays, the team air 7 - 10pm, calling one game live (with the other game having frequent updates), on Saturdays 12 noon until 8pm, calling the 5:30pm game (with both 7.30pm games with frequent updates through the night) and Sundays from 12 noon until 6pm, covering either 2pm or 3pm game (with the other game with frequent updates).
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).
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.
There are only a handful of Africans in the NRL, there is South African Jarrod Saffy who plays for the St. George Illawarra Dragons, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs winger Jamal Idris who is of Nigerian background, Gold Coast Titans backrower Selasi Berdie is of Ghanaian background and is believed to be the first ever player of Ghanaian background to play in the NRL, Sydney Roosters forward Willie Mason, St. George Illawarra Dragons winger Peni Tagive and Penrith Panthers forward Daine Laurie also have African backgrounds
There are very few Asian players in the NRL, one of them currently being Gold Coast Titans winger Kevin Gordon who is of Chinese and Filipino background as well as former South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters hooker Craig Wing who is of Filipino background joined Japanese Rugby Union at the end of the 2009 season.
There are few European-born players in the National Rugby League, despite the significant number of Australians in Europe's Super League. However, those who do play in the NRL (such as, in recent times, Adrian Morley who is English of Welsh descent and Brian Carney who is Irish) are often stars of the game.
Europeans currently playing in the NRL include England representatives Gareth Ellis who plays for the Wests Tigers and Sam Burgess who has signed with the South Sydney Rabbitohs for 2010. Other Europeans include former Wigan Warriors loose forward Mark Flanagan who is joining the Wests Tigers in 2010, and Scottish international Ian Henderson who is currently playing for the New Zealand Warriors. Ellis won Wests Tigers 'best and fairest' award in his inaugural season.
There are also a huge number of players in the NRL with European backgrounds. some of them Sydney Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello is an Italian international there are also a lot of other players with Italian backgrounds such as Rocky Trimarchi, Cameron Ciraldo and Anthony Laffranchi.
Players with Greek backgrounds include John Skandalis and Iwi Hauraki, players with Maltese backgrounds include Jarrod Sammut, Shane Shackleton and Danny Galea there are also a lot of other players of European backgrounds in the NRL from such as countries as Ireland and Scotland.
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 Jonathan Thurston and Greg Inglis. A Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report found that 11% of NRL players in 2006 were of Aboriginal descent, compared to only 7% in the AFL. (By way of comparison, only 2.3% of the Australian population identified themselves as Indigenous in the 2006 Australian census.). 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.
On February 13 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.
Most of the players in the National Rugby League are of Australian origin, although there are increasing numbers of both New Zealand and Pacific Island born players being selected by clubs. In recent years, Polynesian players have made up 75 per cent of junior representative teams in New South Wales. It has been suggested that by 2011-2012 50% of NRL players could be of Polynesian or Melanesian descent.
|1||Hazem El Masri||2,418|
|4||Daryl Halligan||2, 034|
|As of 8 October 2009.|
The Brisbane Broncos (1998, 2000 and 2006) and the Melbourne Storm (1999, 2007 and 2009) share the distinction of winning the most premierships (three) since the creation of the National Rugby League.
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. However this was the year that they went over the salary cap by over $1.5 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. The most victories achieved within a season is 21, held by the Melbourne Storm in 2007. 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 remains the most points scored by an individual in a season.
Ken Irvine is Rugby League's most prolific try scorer with 212 tries, the only player to score 200 or more tries.
Nigel Vagana's 154 tries scored across all nine seasons of the National Rugby League 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 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). Only three players have scored five tries in a game; Francis Meli, Jamie Lyon, and Nigel Vagana.
It should be noted, however, that the official records of the NRL do not differentiate between the various top level competitions. For more information on official records, see this page List of NSWRL/ARL/SL/NRL records