|Full name||Adelaide Rugby League Football Club|
|Founded||13 December 1995 (first season: 1997)|
|Ground(s)||Adelaide Oval (1997-1998) (30,000)
Hindmarsh Stadium (1998) (16,500)
|CEO(s)||Tim Pickup (1995-96)
Liz Dawson (1996-98)
|Coach(s)||Rod Reddy (1995–98)
Dean Lance (1998)
|Captain(s)||Kerrod Walters (1997–98)|
|Competition||Super League and NRL|
|9th of 10
17th of 20
|Most capped||41 - Kerrod Walters|
|Most points||116 - Graham Appo|
The Adelaide Rams were an Australian professional rugby league football club based in Adelaide, South Australia. The team was formed in 1995 for the planned rebel Super League competition, which eventually ran parallel to the rival Australian Rugby League (ARL) competition in 1997. The Rams lasted two seasons, the first in the Super League competition in 1997 and the second in the first season of the National Rugby League (NRL) in 1998. The Rams were not a successful club, winning only 13 out of 42 games. However crowd numbers in the first season were the fifth highest of any first-grade club that year, but dwindled to sixteenth in the second season. The Adelaide club was shut down at the end of the 1998 season as a result of poor on-field performances, dwindling crowd numbers, financial losses and a reduction in the number of teams in the NRL. They remain the only team from the state of South Australia to have participated in top-level rugby league in Australia.
The Australian rules football code, with origins as far back as 1843, had long dominated sport in the state. South Australia had two teams competing in the national Australian rules competition, the Australian Football League (AFL) (the Adelaide Crows and Port Power, the latter starting in the AFL in the same year as the Rams first season in Super League while the Crows won their first two AFL premierships in the same two years the Rams played. The new team from Port Adelaide, who already had a large fan base in the local South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, and the Crows successes in 1997-98 made it much harder for the Rams to compete for fan support). Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, was considered an Aussie rules stronghold, the home of the oldest Aussie Rules Football league (and the oldest of any code) (SANFL) in Australia; and a viable Rugby Union competition since 1932  The South Australian Rugby League also had a First Grade Premiership competition in place since 1976 while league been played competitively in Adelaide since the late 1940s.
The New South Wales Rugby League premiership (NSWRL) begun in 1908, as a rugby league competition for clubs in the Sydney region of Australia, a situation that lasted until 1982. The competition then expanded outside of NSW to Canberra and to outside of Sydney with a team from Wollongong and eventually in 1988 to Queensland. In 1992 the NSWRL decided to extend the competition further, by admitting four new teams for the 1995 competition from Western Australia, New Zealand and Queensland. The NSWRL also decided to test the viability of a rugby league team from the South Australian capital, and between 1991 and 1995 programmed five matches to be played in Adelaide at the famous Adelaide Oval. In 1991, the St. George and Balmain match attracted 28,884 people, the largest attendance for any rugby league game in South Australia. Around 20,000 attended the two matches in 1992 and 1993, and around 10,000 in 1994 and 1995. Despite this evidence of popular appeal, the NSWRL, already in the process of setting up a 20-team competition, could not see their way to admitting a team from Adelaide, preferring the Melbourne Storm (formed in 1998) instead.
Some Adelaide fans still see the unofficial reason being that the Rams were a team made for Super League and therefore were not really wanted by those from the traditional Sydney-based competition. It had long been known that the Australian Rugby League (ARL) were much more interested in Melbourne than Adelaide and it was felt that the Rams were a sacrificial trade off in order to keep the Storm in the new competition.
In 1994 the media company News Limited began developing a rival competition to the long-established NSWRL premiership: the "Super League" premiership. In response to this move the Australian Rugby League (ARL), the governing body of rugby league in Australia, took over the NSWRL. After 8 of the 20 teams in the ARL competition signed with News Limited (to play in their proposed Super League competition in 1996) the organization began looking for further teams to make the new competition viable. In June 1995 the South Australian Rugby League (SARL), which governs the game of rugby league in South Australia, officially signed with Super League, who subsequently gave them a licence to form a franchise which would allow the SARL to create a Super League team.
The team was owned and supported by News Limited. Former Australian representatives Tim Pickup and Rod Reddy were named inaugural CEO and head coach respectively. Pickup played a major role in assembling the playing roster as well as establishing training headquarters and was the Rams delegate for all of the Super League court hearings. No expense was spared converting a former sanitarium into a world-class sporting complex that was home to the largest weight-lifting gym in the southern hemisphere.
On 13 December 1995 the SARL officially launched the 'Adelaide Rams',the tenth and final team to join the Super League competition. In early March the ARL were successful in gaining an injunction, a legal ruling that prevented the Super League from beginning competition in 1996, and the Rams were put on hold and Tim Pickup stood down from his post in the ensuing months. In mid-1996 News Limited successfully appealed this ruling, which enabled the competition to proceed. George Gregan was approached to be the starting halfback for the new team for "seriously more money than" he would earn playing rugby union, but he opted to remain in the 15-man code. The first, and only Super League season, was held in 1997, and the Rams were part of it.
SARL appointed the former Auckland Warriors marketing manager Liz Dawson as Pickup's replacement as the Rams' chief executive – the first female chief executive of any rugby league club in either the ARL or the Super League. The club had appointed St. George Dragons international back rower Rod Reddy to be their inaugural coach, along with two-time NSWRL premiership-winning Hooker Kerrod Walters from the Brisbane Broncos to be the first captain of the team. Most of the junior players were drawn from the SARL's lower grade competitions in the region.
The club played its first premiership match against the North Queensland Cowboys and, after leading 16–4 at half time, eventually lost 24–16.
Their first home match, against the Hunter Mariners, was also the Rams' first win, and drew their record home attendance of 27,435 to the Adelaide Oval, one of only two home wins for the season. The Rams also won four away games with their first being in Round 4 against the Auckland Warriors at the Ericsson Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, but their overall record of 6 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw placed them second last on the Super League premiership ladder, one win ahead of North Queensland.
|1||North Queensland Cowboys||24 - 16||Adelaide Rams||1 March||Dairy Farmers Stadium||17,738|
|2||Brisbane Broncos||28 - 12||Adelaide Rams||9 March||ANZ Stadium||16,279|
|3||Adelaide Rams||10 - 8||Hunter Mariners||14 March||Adelaide Oval||27,435|
|4||Auckland Warriors||12 - 16||Adelaide Rams||21 March||Ericsson Stadium||13,000|
|5||Adelaide Rams||16 - 18||Perth Reds||27 March||Adelaide Oval||16,294|
|6||Canterbury Bulldogs||34 - 22||Adelaide Rams||6 April||Belmore Sports Ground||7,234|
|7||Adelaide Rams||10 - 20||Brisbane Broncos||13 April||Adelaide Oval||17,633|
|8||Cronulla Sharks||18 - 29||Adelaide Rams||19 April||Shark Park||10,112|
|9||Penrith Panthers||16 - 22||Adelaide Rams||27 April||Penrith Football Stadium||5,815|
|10||Adelaide Rams||14 - 14||North Queensland Cowboys||2 May||Adelaide Oval||15,970|
|11||Adelaide Rams||22 - 42||Canterbury Bulldogs||23 May||Adelaide Oval||15,022|
|12||Adelaide Rams||18 - 34||Canberra Raiders||1 June||Adelaide Oval||13,894|
|13||Perth Reds||4 - 28||Adelaide Rams||29 June||W.A.C.A||7,204|
|14||Hunter Mariners||10 - 2||Adelaide Rams||5 July||Topper Stadium||2,345|
|15||Adelaide Rams||8 - 18||Auckland Warriors||11 July||Adelaide Oval||13,278|
|16||Adelaide Rams||6 - 28||Cronulla Sharks||8 August||Adelaide Oval||7,231|
|17||Canberra Raiders||58 - 16||Adelaide Rams||17 August||Canberra Stadium||7,960|
|18||Adelaide Rams||36 - 16||Penrith Panthers||22 August||Adelaide Oval||11,211|
The Rams did not achieve much greater success in the 1997 World Club Championship, a newly formatted tournament involving teams from both the Australian and European Super League competitions. The Rams won all their matches played in Australia but lost two of their three matches in Europe, which meant that they failed to reach the series finals.
Following the unification of the Super League and ARL competitions after the 1997 season, a new National Rugby League (NRL) competition was formed. This meant that three teams would be demised, as part of the rationalisation process aimed at reducing teams to an optimal number. With the introduction of the Melbourne Storm, and an agreement between Super League and the ARL to have a competition limited to 14 teams by 2000, the future for the Rams looked bleak. However, the Rams' home ground support, which averaged 15,330 fans each week, ensured that they remained in the unified 1998 competition.
The demise of three clubs from the Super League and ARL saw some player re-shuffling, and brought Noel Goldthorpe, Tony Iro and Matt Daylight to the Adelaide club. However, after the Rams lost nine of their first ten games, coach Reddy and the entire coaching staff were sacked by the Rams' administration. Reddy was replaced by former Perth Reds coach Dean Lance and mid-season saw the arrival of Canberra Raiders centre Graham Appo.
The club went on to win six of their last fourteen games after Lance's arrival, enough to avoid the wooden spoon awarded to the team finishing lowest on the competition ladder. Their overall results were comparable to those of their first season, coming fourth last in the 20–team competition. Appo broke several team records in his 14 games with the Rams. Throughout the 1998 season, the Rams attempted to build a stronger supporter base, to avoid removal from the competition in 1999 or 2000; however, average home attendance dwindled to 7,472 over the course of the season.
|1||Adelaide Rams||8 – 18||North Queensland Cowboys||13 March||Adelaide Oval||11,289|
|2||Manly Sea Eagles||22 - 6||Adelaide Rams||22 March||Brookvale Oval||6,434|
|3||Adelaide Rams||22 - 20||Canterbury Bulldogs||27 March||Adelaide Oval||8,390|
|4||Penrith Panthers||54 - 12||Adelaide Rams||5 April||Penrith Football Stadium||6,637|
|5||Adelaide Rams||8 - 16||Gold Coast Chargers||9 April||Adelaide Oval||7,058|
|6||Sydney City Roosters||50 - 12||Adelaide Rams||17 April||Sydney Football Stadium||6,200|
|7||Adelaide Rams||12 - 22||Cronulla Sharks||25 April||Adelaide Oval||8,472|
|8||Canterbury Bulldogs||30 - 4||Adelaide Rams||3 May||Belmore Sports Ground||5,041|
|9||Adelaide Rams||18 - 24||Canberra Raiders||8 May||Adelaide Oval||6,500|
|10||Parramatta Eels||18 - 2||Adelaide Rams||16 May||Pioneer Oval||7,514|
|11||Adelaide Rams||35 - 18||Penrith Panthers||23 May||Adelaide Oval||5,000|
|12||Western Suburbs Magpies||36 - 24||Adelaide Rams||31 May||Campbelltown Stadium||6,392|
|13||Adelaide Rams||22 - 20||St. George Dragons||6 June||Adelaide Oval||8,506|
|14||Melbourne Storm||24 - 4||Adelaide Rams||13 June||Olympic Park||8,293|
|15||Adelaide Rams||4 - 39||Illawarra Steelers||20 June||Bennett Oval||5,153|
|16||Gold Coast Chargers||12 - 40||Adelaide Rams||27 June||Carrara Stadium||3,897|
|17||Adelaide Rams||52 - 0||Balmain Tigers||3 July||Hindmarsh Stadium||7,351|
|18||South Sydney Rabbitohs||18 - 34||Adelaide Rams||12 July||Sydney Football Stadium||4,060|
|19||North Queensland Cowboys||14 - 10||Adelaide Rams||18 July||Dairy Farmers Stadium||11,340|
|20||Adelaide Rams||22 - 20||Auckland Warriors||26 July||Hindmarsh Stadium||7,445|
|21||Brisbane Broncos||46 - 12||Adelaide Rams||1 August||ANZ Stadium||13,858|
|22||Adelaide Rams||10 - 32||Manly Sea Eagles||7 August||Hindmarsh Stadium||7,459|
|23||Adelaide Rams||0 - 36||North Sydney Bears||15 August||Hindmarsh Stadium||7,035|
|24||Newcastle Knights||34 - 20||Adelaide Rams||22 August||Marathon Stadium||17,281|
The NRL had planned to continue a 20–team competition in 1999, with a reduction to 14 teams in 2000. The Rams' management had their minds set on a place in the reduced competition, and went on a buying spree, obtaining rights for players that they hoped would be productive enough for the team to survive the cut in 2000. However, after the merger between rugby league clubs St. George Dragons and Illawarra Steelers, News Limited told the Rams they would no longer receive funding. The cost of building and sustaining an uncompetitive rugby league team in an area dominated by another football sport had resulted in News Limited incurring heavy financial losses. Subsequent attempts to merge with a Sydney club failed, and the NRL demised the Rams on 1 December 1998. There was disappointment in the lack of commitment shown to the Adelaide club.
You cannot expect the Rams to have won over South Australians after just two seasons in such an Aussie Rules stronghold, especially given the extraordinary nature of those seasons.
While the Adelaide Rams have folded, numbers in junior rugby league in Adelaide have risen, and the SARL has begun again to promote the idea of a team based in Adelaide. Due to its efforts, NRL teams have been brought to the city to revive interest; in 2006 the Penrith Panthers scheduled a home game at Adelaide's Hindmarsh Stadium while their home ground was under renovation. The NRL helped with the promotion of the match, although the SARL were disappointed with the small crowd of 7,017. In 2008, Sydney based club the Cronulla Sharks announced they would play three matches over the next three years at Adelaide, with coach Ricky Stuart saying he wanted Adelaide to become the Sharks' second home. SARL general manager Bruce Walker has suggested that the NRL itself should take more responsibility for scheduling games in Adelaide. The 2009 match against North Queensland Cowboys attracted 8,547 people.
In 2010, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs took their home match against the Melbourne Storm to Adelaide in which Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs defeating the Melbourne Storm 20-18 where the game attracted 10, 350 people at Adelaide Oval.
In 2008, several NRL club bosses expressed the view that the NRL should be a "national" competition, since it now had teams from all around Australia rather than just on the eastern seaboard. Such a move would increase the competition's revenue. Peter Parr, the CEO of North Queensland Cowboys and former assistant coach for the Rams in 1998, said that if the NRL had stuck with the Adelaide Rams, then rugby league in Adelaide might have flourished, making comparisons with the Melbourne Storm, a team performing successfully on and off the field in AFL heartland.
Colours, emblem and stadium
The emblem of the team was a ram (a male sheep). The ram was chosen, according to Super League chief executive John Ribot, because it was "readily identifiable with strength and hardness". This name was considered a better alternative to the first choice, the Adelaide Aces, which Ribot believed was too soft a name and did not work well as a brand for a Super League team. The main colours of the Adelaide Rams were red and blue, although there was yellow in their emblem. Their jerseys remained red and blue until the last game they played in 1998, when they used a mainly yellow jersey to avoid a colour clash with the similar jerseys of the Newcastle Knights.
The Rams' initial home ground was Adelaide Oval, a round park that had been used for cricket and Australian Rules Football for over a century. For their first season they had average home attendances of 15,330, the fourth highest of the Super League teams and fifth highest of all 22 teams in both competitions. In 1998, however, the Rams' home attendances diminished, dropping to an average of about 7,500, the fourth lowest of any team in the 20–team competition.
During 1998, the South Australian Cricket Association had ongoing problems with the SARL and the Rams' use of their stadium, Adelaide Oval. The Rams then moved to Hindmarsh Stadium, a rectangular stadium more suited to rugby league and owned by the South Australian Soccer Association. They celebrated with a 52-0 defeat over Balmain in the their first match at the stadium. However, attendances did not improve after the move, falling below 7,500.
Records and statistics
Kerrod Walters, the club’s inaugural captain, played 41 games for the Rams, more than any other player. Most of the club's individual records are held by Tony Portolesi, who scored the most points in a season, along with the most tries in a season, both achieved in 1998. Portolesi also held the record for scoring the most points in a match, scoring 24 points twice, against the Balmain Tigers, and then against the Gold Coast Chargers. In these matches he scored three tries, another club record. Appo achieved 116 points for the Rams, two more than Luke Williamson. Portolesi scored the most tries for the Rams with 12; Williamson, with 45, holds the record for most goals.
None of Adelaide's players reached international status during its tenure as a club. Kevin Campion in 1997 was the club's only player to represent his state or country, having played for the Queensland state rugby league team in the Super League Tri-Series.
Team performance summary
The Rams did not win any premierships, minor premierships or wooden spoons in their two seasons. Their biggest win was 52-0 over the Balmain Tigers in 1998 and their biggest losing margin was 42 points, which occurred twice: against the Canberra Raiders in 1997 and the Penrith Panthers in 1998. The Rams had a 32.14% win percentage for all of their premiership games, which made them statistically the sixth worst team in first grade rugby league in Australia, out of 33 teams.
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