The National Rugby League (NRL) is one
of the two premier Rugby league competitions in the world, and
arguably the toughest. It is played in Australia and New Zealand.
Each club represents its geographic area, with the majority of teams
based in NSW (where the sport is most popular), 3 in QLD, one each
from A.C.T and Victoria, and one team representing New Zealand. (At
one point there were also teams from Western and South Australia)
The league in its current form, began
in 1998. Prior to that, the top grade competition in Australia was
run by the NSWRL (1908-1994) then ARL (1995-1998); who
were the governing bodies of the sport at State and National level
During the 1997 season, a rival
competition set-up by
Murdoch's News Corp. ran parallel to the ARL premiership. The new
competition was called Super League. It consisted for 8 teams
that had defected from the ARL, plus 2 newly created franchises. This
left the ARL with 12 clubs. Players, sponsorships and crowds were
spread thinly across the two, and it became clear the model was not
sustainable for either party. By the end of that year, the ARL and
News Corp. had agreed on a jointly owned competition for the 1998
season. This was the formation of the NRL.
In its first season, 20 clubs competed.
Over the following years, clubs faced rationalisation, expansion and
financial issues. This led to some mergers, closures and
establishment of new franchises. As of 2009, the NRL is contested by
the following 16 teams.
Gold Coast Titans
North QLD Cowboys