|Locale||Sydney, New South Wales|
|First meeting||1908 (1998 NRL)|
The NRL Grand Final, which determines the Australian rugby league football season's premiers, is one of Australia's major sporting events and one of the largest attended club championship events in the world. Since 1999 it has been contested at Sydney's Stadium Australia, which was the primary athletics venue for the 2000 Olympic Games. The first year it was held at Stadium Australia, the National Rugby League grand final broke the record for attendance at an Australian rugby league game, with 107,999 people attending.
The grand final had traditionally been played on Sunday after the pubs closed, the following year saw the game shifted to an evening start. From 2008, a compromise was reached between official broadcaster Nine Network's preferred starting time of 7 pm and the traditional starting time of 3 pm, with the grand final beginning at 5 pm AEDT. In 2013 the evening start resumed, the match commencing at 7:15 pm.
Each year the NRL 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. However, in 2015 the breakfast was cancelled
The game itself is usually preceded by an opening ceremony featuring entertainment and the singing of the national anthem by well-known Australasian and international musical acts. After the pre-game entertainment it is traditional for the Provan-Summons Trophy, the NRL's official premiership trophy, to be delivered to the field by an Australian Army helicopter shortly before kick off.
At the conclusion of the grand final there is a presentation ceremony where the winning team are awarded premiership rings. The player adjudged to be the man-of-the-match by the Australian national team selectors is awarded the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal and the Prime Minister of Australia is typically on-hand to hand the Provan-Summons Trophy to the winning captain.
In 2019 the Government of New South Wales secured the grand final for Stadium Australia until at least 2046
First grade rugby league in NSW began in 1908, the first premiership deciding game was played at the Royal Agricultural Society Showground, with Souths defeating Easts 14–12. From 1912 to 1925, no finals system was in place, however in 1916, 1922, 1923 and 1924, a match was played as a tiebreaker to decide the season's premiership winner. From 1926 to 1953, finals were played under the Argus system, which produced a deciding game in two slightly differing ways.
All of these deciding games are now deemed to be grand finals, whether they were referred to as such at the time or not. From 1954 to the present, using a variety of systems, the deciding match has been explicitly termed a grand final, and no distinction is made between grand finals played under the auspices of the various governing bodies.
The NRL grand final is held in Sydney since it has the most clubs in the NRL and the current venue for the grand final, Stadium Australia is the second highest capacity stadium in Australia, after the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It was announced in June 2019 that the 2020 and 2021 Grand Finals will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, while Stadium Australia undergoes redevelopment. However, after the Government of New South Wales scrapped plans to redevelop Stadium Australia in July 2020, the Grand Finals would return to being planned at Sydney Olympic Park until at least 2046.
|Brisbane||Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre||1997 (SL)|
|Sydney||Sydney Football Stadium||1988–1998|
|Sydney||Sydney Cricket Ground||1908–87|
Qualification for World Club Challenge
Trophy and awards
The Provan-Summons Trophy is the NRL's main prize, awarded to the team that wins the premiership. Its sculptured design is similar to the Winfield Cup trophy, which was introduced for the 1982 NSWRFL season. It is a three-dimensional cast of a famous photo called The Gladiators, which depicts a mud-soaked Norm Provan of St. George and Arthur Summons of Western Suburbs embracing after the 1963 NSWRFL season's grand final. It was not officially named the Provan-Summons Trophy until 2013, the 50th anniversary of the 1963 grand final. The trophy is awarded following each grand final to the captain of the winning club.
Clive Churchill Medal
The Clive Churchill Medal is the award given to the player judged to be man-of-the-match in the National Rugby League's annual grand final. The award was created to honour Clive Churchill, one of the greatest rugby league players in Australian history, following his death in 1985. A prestigious honour in the NRL, The medal's recipient is chosen by the selectors of the Australian national team and announced and awarded to the player judged best and fairest on the ground at every post-grand final ceremony.
The Clive Churchill Medal has been awarded ever since the 1986 NSWRL season when its first recipient was Parramatta's Peter Sterling. The only two players to have won the award more than once are Canberra's Bradley Clyde (1989 and 1991) and Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater (2009 and 2017). In 2010, the Melbourne Storm were stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premierships due to salary cap breaches exposed by the NRL, however the Clive Churchill Medallists from those years still continue to be recognised.
The NRL present premiership rings for the players and coach of grand final winning sides. After the 2004 NRL Grand Final which was won by the Bulldogs, one of their players, Johnathan Thurston gave his premiership ring to teammate Steve Price who missed the decider due to injury. The Melbourne Storm were stripped of their premierships in 2007 and 2009, but the players involved in those premierships were still allowed to keep their premiership rings. In 2014 NRL premiership ring was worth $8000 made by Zed N Zed Jewellery. Since 2015 Affinity Diamonds have produced the NRL premiership rings
Prize money is awarded to the victorious club.
However the amount is probably not reflective of the magnitude of participating in the event. It is often assumed simply that the winner of the premiership typically experiences an increase in revenue through increases in membership and merchandise sales.
|Club||Wins||Winning years||Runners Up||Runners Up Years||Total Grand Finals|
|1||Sydney Roosters||4||2002, 2013, 2018, 2019||4||2000, 2003, 2004, 2010||8|
||4||2006, 2008, 2016, 2018||10|
|2||Brisbane Broncos||3||1998, 2000, 2006||1||2015||4|
|2||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||2||2008, 2011||2||2007, 2013||4|
|3||Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||1||2004||3||1998, 2012, 2014||4|
|3||North Queensland Cowboys||1||2015||2||2005, 2017||3|
|3||St George Illawarra Dragons||1||2010||1||1999||2|
|3||South Sydney Rabbitohs||1||2014||0||1|
|4||Parramatta Eels||0||2||2001, 2009||2|
|4||New Zealand Warriors||0||2||2002, 2011||2|
- Melbourne Storm Wins in 2007 and 2009 were subsequently annulled
The Gold Coast Titans are the only team currently competing in the competition who have not featured in a grand final since the start of the NRL (1998).
|7pm||1997*, 2002–2007, 2013–2019|
The 1997 Super League grand final was a night time match*
Notable grand finals
1909 – South Sydney win the premiership by forfeit over Balmain. There was an agreement that both sides would play the match, however Balmain never showed up, South Sydney kicked off to a side that did not turn up,scored a try and were declared premiers.
1943 – Newtown defeat North Sydney 34–7 at the Sydney Cricket Ground in front of a then record crowd of 60,922. This grand final would be North Sydney's final appearance in a decider before exiting the competition in 1999 and also Newtown's last premiership before their exclusion at the end of 1983.
1952 – Western Suburbs defeated South Sydney 22–10. The match was remembered due to its controversy with claims the referee George Bishop had put a big wager on Western Suburbs winning the game. Souths claimed that they were denied two fair tries and Wests had scored one try off a blatant knock on. Western Suburbs player Hec Farrell was sent off in the second half of the match. This would prove to be the last premiership Western Suburbs would win as a stand-alone entity before exiting the competition in 1999. South Sydney captain-coach Jack Rayner reportedly never spoke to George Bishop following the grand final even though both men lived in the same suburb of Sydney for years after the match.
1963 – St. George beat Western Suburbs 8–3 in a match famous for the iconic 'Gladiators' photo of Norm Provan and Arthur Summons covered in mud. It is also notable for a controversial try scored by Dragons winger Johnny King. Wests players tackled him and believed him to be held, however the referee rules play on.
1965 – A then record crowd of 78,056 packed into the Sydney Cricket Ground to see St. George captain Norm Provan play his last NSWRFL game. It was also St. George's 10th straight premiership.
1966 – St. George win their 11th straight premiership, at the time a world record in any football code.
1989 – Known by many as the best grand final ever, Canberra come from 14–2 down to beat Balmain 19–14 in extra time. Canberra became the first team outside of NSW to win the competition.
1997 – Brisbane defeat Cronulla for their third premiership in the Super League grand final. This was the first night grand final, the first (and currently only) top level rugby league grand final to be played outside of Sydney before a record crowd for any sporting event in Queensland of 58,912.
1999 – A world record crowd of 107,999 watch the two newest clubs Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra Dragons battle it out. St. George Illawarra lead 18–14 before a late penalty try to Melbourne winger Craig Smith gives the Storm a 20–18 win to become the first Victorian team to win a NRL premiership and the quickest NRL club to win their first ever premiership in only their second season.
2002 – Pre-game entertainment Billy Idol arrived on ground on board a hovercraft, but due to technical issues – "waiting for some power" – he did not perform.
2005 – Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall throws a magic flick pass to winger Pat Richards as the Tigers become the first joint venture to win the premiership, 30–16 over the North Queensland Cowboys.
2011 – Lights at the stadium accidentally go out causing the post game ceremony to go delayed.
2015 – The North Queensland Cowboys' first premiership after 21 seasons in the NRL and widely regarded as one of the all-time best (along with the Raiders' '89 win). The first all-Queensland NRL grand final sparked talk of future deciders being held in Queensland. It was also notable as Brisbane Broncos ended their biggest drought from a grand final since entering the competition (in 1988) and it was Bennett's first season back in Brisbane after leaving in 2008. North Queensland Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt scored a try from a Michael Morgan try-assist after the full-time siren to level the game at 16-all. After Jonathan Thurston missed the sideline conversion, hitting the right post, the match went to golden point extra time, the first grand final to do so. The Kyle Feldt kick-off to begin golden point was dropped by the Broncos' Ben Hunt. From the ensuing set of six, Thurston kicked the winning field goal, and was subsequently awarded the Clive Churchill Medal. It also ended Brisbane's undefeated streak in grand finals, having won all six previous deciders.
2016 – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks win their first premiership in their 50th season by defeating Melbourne Storm 14–12. This was also only their 4th grand final appearance since entering the competition in 1967. Their other grand final appearances came in 1973, 1978 and 1997. The Sharks won only one of their final five regular-season games. But it was enough to break through for their inaugural premiership.
2019 – Sydney Roosters become the first team to win back-to-back premierships in 26 years by defeating the Canberra Raiders 14–8. The last team to achieve successive premierships in a unified competition was the Brisbane Broncos in 1992–93. The Roosters' win did not come without any controversy during the game. In the third minute, a Luke Keary kick was charged down, only for the ball to ricochet off the head of the Roosters' trainer who was on the field at the time; a scrum feed was then awarded to the Roosters, and 3 minutes later Roosters' Sam Verrills scored a try adjacent to the goalposts. The Raiders then started to dominate the match, with their five-eighth Jack Wighton scoring a try in the 31st minute. Roosters' Cooper Cronk was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes for a professional foul (tackling a player not in possession of the football). With a man down, the Roosters' defence was stoic; despite numerous attacks the Raiders were unable to score. The 72nd minute saw what was arguably one of the most controversial moments in a rugby league match (let alone for a NRL grand final). A Jack Wighton bomb kick saw the ball bounce off the shoulder off a Raiders' player (who was contesting the ball against the Roosters' fullback James Tedesco) and the ball bounced back to the Raiders. Initially, the primary referee Ben Cummins believed that the ball was touched by Tedesco and subsequently Cummins called that the Raiders had another set of six tackles while the ball was still in play, however, Cummins was quickly notified by other match officials that Roosters had not touched the ball and as such the Raiders were still on their last tackle. Wighton was tackled, and despite his protests to the referees, handed the ball over to the Roosters. Four tackles later, the Roosters ran 80 metres, the ball passing between Keary, Latrell Mitchell, Daniel Tupou, and finally Tedesco who scored the match winning try.
The 1999 NRL Grand Final saw a new rugby league world record crowd of 107,999 was at Stadium Australia for the game. The attendance, which saw 67,142 more people attend than had done so for the 1998 NRL Grand Final at the Sydney Football Stadium, broke the record attendance for a grand final, eclipsing the previous record of 78,065 set in 1965 when St. George defeated South Sydney 12–8 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Early NRL grand finals featured a halftime show consisting of marching bands but as the popularity of the game increased, a trend where popular singers and musicians performed during its pre-game ceremonies and the halftime show emerged. Traditionally, Advance Australia Fair is sung before every match. When the New Zealand Warriors play, God Defend New Zealand is also sung.
- Grand Final
- National Rugby League
- List of Australian rugby league grand final records
- List of NRL Grand finals
- List of NRL Premiers
- NRL Women's Grand Final
- Super League Grand Final
- AFL Grand Final
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