|2010 National Rugby League|
|Premiers||St. George Illawarra (1st title)|
|Minor premiers||St. George Illawarra (2nd title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Michael Gordon (270)|
|Player of the year||Todd Carney (Dally M Medal)|
|Top try-scorer(s)|| Akuila Uate (21)|
Shaun Kenny-Dowall (21)
The 2010 NRL season was the 103rd season of professional rugby league football club competition in Australia, and the thirteenth run by the National Rugby League. The season commenced on 12 March and ended with the Grand Final, played on 3 October at ANZ Stadium. Sixteen teams competed for the 2010 Telstra Premiership whilst the third season of the National Youth Competition was also in progress.
The 2010 season was marred by the Melbourne Storm's admission in April of systematically breaching the NRL salary cap. As part of the NRL's imposed penalties, the Storm were deducted all 8 competition points earned at the time of the announcement, and were barred from earning points for the rest of the season, guaranteeing them the wooden spoon. The club was also stripped of all titles earned during the period they were in breach, including their 2007 and 2009 premierships and their 2006, 2007 and 2008 minor premierships, and later also their 2010 World Club Challenge title.
2010's NRL premiership was won by the season's minor premiers the St George Illawarra Dragons, the first title for the joint venture club. The Dragons became the first minor premiers since the Penrith Panthers in 2003 to complete the minor premiership and premiership double.
During the pre-season the Melbourne Storm defeated the Leeds Rhinos 18-10 in the 2010 World Club Challenge. The inaugural All Stars match took place on 13 February at Skilled Park, Gold Coast, where the Indigenous All Stars team won 16–12.
Significant dates throughout the season include the annual ANZAC Test and City vs Country Origin weekend, resulting in a shortened round in early May. Byes take place throughout the State of Origin period between Rounds 11 and 18 (during June and July). The annual heritage round takes place again in Round 10, a round celebrating Women in League has been earmarked for Round 16, and later in the season a round has been set aside to celebrate Indigenous Australians.
The overall attendance record during the regular season was 3,151,039, an increase on last year's record of 3,081,874. This was the second consecutive year that the rugby league attendance record has been broken.
On 7 September 2010, Sydney Roosters' five-eighth Todd Carney won the coveted Dally M Medal for Player of the Year for season 2010 and was also awarded the people's choice Provan-Summons award (see 2010 Dally M Awards for full award listing). It was a remarkable return to the field for Carney who in 2008 was sacked by the Canberra Raiders and deregistered by the NRL for the 2009 season for repeated off-field indiscretions.
In 2010, NRL games on New Zealand's Sky network drew average audiences of 60,779.
During the 2010 season, a rule change to the playing field was implemented so that if a player in possession of the ball made contact with the corner post that player would no longer be considered to be touch in-goal. Proponents of the move argued a series of possible future scenarios made this preventative measure necessary, with ARL chief executive Geoff Carr stating, "no one has thought of the possibility of using the corner post as a weapon to defuse a try and we want to stop it before they do". One scenario was that a defending player might manipulate the corner post to put an attacker out of play. Another concern cited was that the corner post might be made to make contact with a rolling ball to ensure the defending team gains possession with a 20 metre restart. Corner posts, which sometimes lean to one side, have no upper height limit set and this led to a fear that corner posts might become "long rubber snakes, biting attackers and sending them into touch", in the words of Roy Masters. Other laws concerning the corner posts remained unchanged. A ball that makes contact with the corner post while not in the possession of a player will be deemed to be touch in-goal as before. There was no attempt to remove the corner posts from the playing field as they are used to promote sponsors and are also a useful aid for players to judge their kicks. The change was agreed by the NRL Board and approved by the RLIF as an experimental rule. Implementation occurred mid-season following feedback from clubs.
Melbourne Storm salary cap breach
On 22 April, Melbourne Storm officials confessed to the NRL that the club had committed serious and systematic breaches of the salary cap regulations for the last five years by running a well-organized dual contract and bookkeeping system which left the NRL unable to know of $3.17 million in payments made to players outside of the salary cap, including $550,000 in 2007, $965,000 in 2009 and $1.03 million in 2010.
As a result of this confession, the following penalties were imposed by the NRL:
- The Storm were stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships and their 2006–2008 minor premierships; these titles will be withheld, rather than be awarded to the respective grand finalists (Manly & Parramatta) and runners-up. The Storm however were allowed to keep the 2010 World Club Challenge title that they won two months earlier, until this was stripped thirteen months later.
- The Storm were fined a record $1.689 million: $1.1 million in prize money which will be distributed equally 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.
- The Storm were ordered to cut their payroll by $1,012,500 by 31 December; failure to do so would have resulted in the club being suspended from the 2011 season.
- The Storm were deducted all eight competition points received during the 2010 season and barred from receiving premiership points for the remainder of the season.
The Storm accepted this decision without question; however, the former directors of the club took legal action which later collapsed. The matter has been referred to ASIC, Australian Tax Office, the Victorian State Revenue Office, and the Victoria Police.
Melbourne eventually finished the 2010 season with a 14-10 win-loss record, which would have seen them finish 5th disregarding the punishments, with Manly missing the finals. Statistically, the North Queensland Cowboys were the poorest performing team during the season, winning only five of its 24 matches played which, disregarding the Storm's punishment, would have been their first wooden spoon since 2000.
A new approach was taken in 2010 following the controversies of 2009 wherein marquee players Greg Inglis (who had featured in the season launch ad) and Brett Stewart (who had been the face of a season launch event) were charged with assault thus disempowering the message behind the ad. The NRL and their advertising agency MJW Hakuhodo set about presenting the acceptable face of Australian rugby league to the world and interspersed some sparse action shots with a gallery of characters to assure viewers that league is a family-friendly sport watched by everyman.
For the first time in many years the launch commercial did not use a popular soundtrack. Titled, the "Voices of the Game" the ad set out to show the diversity of rugby league’s appeal featuring fans from all walks of life including a rodeo clown, a sculptor, a farmer, a businessman and Australian Paralympian Kurt Fearnley  The proposition was that "this season, many of you will....see/ feel/ experience/ dream/ hurt/ believe". The fans highlighted ticked all the boxes of a diverse but wholesome audience demographic. Veteran Kangaroo captain Darren Lockyer is the only player to appear with a speaking part.
The number of teams in the NRL remains unchanged since the previous season, with sixteen participating in the regular season: ten from New South Wales, three from Queensland and one from each of Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand. Of the ten from New South Wales, eight are from Sydney's metropolitan area, with St. George-Illawarra being a Sydney and Wollongong joint venture. Just two foundation clubs from New South Wales Rugby League season 1908 played in this competition: the Sydney Roosters (formerly known as Eastern Suburbs) and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
|1||St. George Illawarra Dragons (P)||24||17||0||7||2||518||299||+219||38|
|4||Gold Coast Titans||24||15||0||9||2||520||498||+22||34|
|5||New Zealand Warriors||24||14||0||10||2||539||486||+53||32|
|8||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles||24||12||0||12||2||545||510||+35||28|
|9||South Sydney Rabbitohs||24||11||0||13||2||584||567||+17||26|
|15||North Queensland Cowboys||24||5||0||19||2||425||667||−242||14|
1 Melbourne were deducted eight premiership points and barred from receiving premiership points for the rest of the season due to gross long-term salary cap breaches.
- Numbers highlighted in green indicate that the team finished the round inside the top 8.
- Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the team finished first on the ladder in that round.
- Numbers highlighted in red indicates the team finished last place on the ladder in that round.
- Underlined numbers indicate that the team had a bye during that round.
|1||St George Illawarra||2||4||6||6||8||10||12||14||14||16||16||18||20||22||24||26||26||28||30||30||30||32||34||34||36||38|
To decide the grand finalists from the top eight finishing teams, the NRL adopts the McIntyre Final Eight System.
Only three teams from 2009's finals series made an appearance in the 2010 finals race: St George Illawarra Dragons, Gold Coast Titans and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, with only the Dragons managing to not drop positions from last year. Major improvements saw the Canberra Raiders, New Zealand Warriors and Sydney Roosters make a return to the finals after finishing 13th, 14th and last in 2009. This season also saw the Wests Tigers and Penrith Panthers make their long-awaited return to the finals race, with the Tigers last featuring in their grand final year of 2005 whilst the Panthers last appeared in the 2004 season.
|Date and Time||Venue||Referees||Crowd|
|Gold Coast Titans||8 – 36||Melbourne Storm||10 September, 7:45pm||Skilled Park||Gavin Badger
|Wests Tigers||54 – 4||New Zealand Warriors †||11 September, 6:30pm||Sydney Football Stadium||Shayne Hayne
|Penrith Panthers||12 – 25||Sydney Roosters||11 September, 8:30pm||CUA Stadium||Ben Cummins
|St George Illawarra Dragons||28 – 30||Canberra Raiders||12 September, 4:00pm||WIN Jubilee Oval||Jarred Maxwell
|Canberra Raiders||32 – 22||Penrith Panthers||17 September, 7:45pm||Canberra Stadium||Tony Archer
|Sydney Roosters||10 – 26||St George Illawarra Dragons||18 September, 7:35pm||Sydney Football Stadium||Shayne Hayne
|Melbourne Storm||19– 12||St George Illawarra Dragons||24 September, 7:45pm||Suncorp Stadium||Tony Archer
|Wests Tigers||28 – 18||Canberra Raiders||25 September, 7:45pm||ANZ Stadium||Ben Cummins
† Match decided in golden point extra time.
Sunday, 3 October
|St George-Illawarra Dragons||32 – 8||Sydney Roosters|
Jason Nightingale (2)
Jamie Soward (6/7)
Todd Carney (0/2)
Team and player records
The following statistics are correct as of the conclusion of Round 26.
Top 5 point scorers
Top 5 try scorers
Top 5 goal scorers
Most points in a match by an individual
|30||Michael Gordon||3||9/10||0||South Sydney Rabbitohs||54–18||CUA Stadium||Round 24|
|28||James Maloney||3||8/9||0||Brisbane Broncos||16–48||Suncorp Stadium||Round 3|
|22||Michael Gordon||3||5/5||0||Canterbury Bulldogs||31–16||CUA Stadium||Round 11|
|22||Jamie Lyon||2||7/7||0||Wests Tigers||38–20||Bluetongue Stadium||Round 20|
Most tries in a match by an individual
|4||Shaun Kenny-Dowall||Brisbane Broncos||34–30||Suncorp Stadium||Round 20|
|4||Josh Morris||Sydney Roosters||60–14||ANZ Stadium||Round 3|
|4||Reece Robinson||North Queensland Cowboys||48–4||Canberra Stadium||Round 25|
|4||Cooper Vuna||Brisbane Broncos||44–18||EnergyAustralia Stadium||Round 24|
Most points in a match
|76||Sydney Roosters||Wests Tigers||44–32||Sydney Football Stadium||Round 2|
|74||Canterbury Bulldogs||Sydney Roosters||60–14||ANZ Stadium||Round 3|
|74||Gold Coast Titans||Newcastle Knights||38–36||EnergyAustralia Stadium||Round 9|
|72||Brisbane Broncos||South Sydney Rabbitohs||50–22||Suncorp Stadium||Round 14|
|72||Penrith Panthers||South Sydney Rabbitohs||54–18||CUA Stadium||Round 24|
Fewest points in a match
|10||Newcastle Knights||Parramatta Eels||6–4||EnergyAustralia Stadium||Round 15|
|11||Cronulla Sharks||Parramatta Eels||11–0||Toyota Park||Round 4|
|16||Brisbane Broncos||Parramatta Eels||10–6||Parramatta Stadium||Round 16|
|16||Brisbane Broncos||St George Illawarra Dragons||10–6||Suncorp Stadium||Round 21|
Most points scored in a match by an individual team
|60||Canterbury Bulldogs||Sydney Roosters||60–14||ANZ Stadium||Round 3|
|58||Melbourne Storm||North Queensland Cowboys||58–12||AAMI Park||Round 15|
|54||Penrith Panthers||South Sydney Rabbitohs||54–18||CUA Stadium||Round 24|
|52||Canberra Raiders||Newcastle Knights||52–18||Canberra Stadium||Round 19|
The 2010 regular season attendance figures bettered last year's figures of 3,081,849 to become the highest attended regular season in Australia's rugby league history, with a total of 3,151,039. Along with 2009, the 2010 season also outshone other attendance blockbuster years of 2007 and the 1995 Winfield Cup.
The highest twenty regular season match attendances:
|Coach||2009 Club||2010 Club|
|Brian Smith||Newcastle Knights||Sydney Roosters|
|John Lang||N/A||South Sydney Rabbitohs|
- 2010 NRL All Stars Game
- 2010 State of Origin series
- 2010 NRL season results
- 2010 NYC season
- 2010 in rugby league
- 2010 World Club Challenge
- 2010 Dally M Awards
- "Melbourne Storm breach NRL Salary Cap". National Rugby League. 22 April 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- McDonald, Margie (22 April 2010). "Melbourne Storm stripped of two rugby league titles over salary cap fraud". The Australian. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- Baynes, Valkerie (1 March 2010). "Melbourne Storm beat Leeds Rhinos to win rugby league's World Club Challenge". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- Walter, Brad (14 February 2010). "Grandparents join the party with proud Preston". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- "2010 NRL Draw". nrl.com. Archived from the original on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Glenn Jackson and Brad Walter (6 September 2010). "Marching in: Dragons lift shield and league". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
- Kilgallon, Steve (10 April 2011). "Kiwi TV viewers go cold on rugby codes". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
- "Finally, NRL dumps corner posts". heraldsun.com.au. 2 June 2010. Archived from the original on 26 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- Masters, Roy (14 April 2010). "Carr wants corner posts out of the field of play". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- NRL (2 June 2010). "NRL changes rules to corner post & player registration". National Rugby League. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- Storm salary cap rort report handed to police
- http://mumbrella.com.au/nrl-turns-to-real-life-supporters-to-kick-off-new-season-19416 2010 Season Launch ad
- Lee, Julian (28 February 2010). "Why this NRL ad is simply the worst". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Stuart Honeysett and Brent Read (23 April 2010) Shocking end to the Melbourne Storm era The Australian
- Proszenko, Adrian (6 May 2012). "Gallen set to smash record". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- Telstra Premiership sets new attendance record Archived 7 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine.