NRL Grand Final
|City or region||Sydney, New South Wales|
|First contested||29 Aug 1908|
|Number of meetings||98|
|Most recent meeting||2014|
|Broadcasters||Nine Network (1960s-1970s, 1992-present)
Seven Network (1970s-1982)
Network Ten (1983-1991)
|Stadiums||Stadium Australia 1999 - present
Sydney Football Stadium 1988 - 1998
Sydney Cricket Ground 1935 - 1987
The NRL Grand final which determines the season's premiers, is one of Australia's major sporting events and is 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 NRL 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 afternoons until 2000, 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 AEST. In 2013 the evening start resumed, the match commencing at 7:15 pm.
Each year the 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.
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 NRL 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 judged 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 trophy to the winning captain.
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 final 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.
|3pm||1908 - 2000|
|5pm||2008 - 2012|
|7pm||2001 - 2007, 2013 - 2018|
Notable grand finals
1909 South Sydney win the premiership by forfeit over Balmain. There was an agreement that both sides would forfeit the match, however Souths showed up, kicked off to an imaginary opponent, scored a try and were declared premiers.
1956 St. George beat Balmain to claim the first of a world record 11 straight premierships.
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 cram into the SCG to see St. George captain Norm Provan play his last NSWRFL game. It is also St. George's 10th straight premiership.
1966 St.George win their 11th straight premiership, a world record in any football code.
1969 Balmain win a controversial grand final 11-2 over South Sydney. The game causes controversy due to Balmain's lay down tactics
1975 Eastern Suburbs beat St. George by a then record 38-0 score line. St. George fullback Graeme Langlands plays the game in white boots and has a painkiller injection go wrong
1977 St. George and Parramatta play out the first drawn grand final 9-9 after extra time. They come back the next week and St. George win 22-0.
1978 Manly and Cronulla play out the second drawn grand final, 11-11. There is no extra time and the replay is played on the following Tuesday, won by Manly 16-0.
1987 Manly defeat Canberra 18-8 in the last grand final played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
1989 Known by many as the best grand final ever, Canberra come from 14-2 down to beat Balmain 19-14 in extra time.
1997 Newcastle winger Darren Albert scores a try with six seconds left to deliver Newcastle their first ever premiership, 22-16 over Manly, affectively bringing the Super League war to an end.
1999 A world record crowd of 107,999 watch the two newest clubs Melbourne and St.George Illawarra battle it out. St. George Illawarra lead 14-2 before a late penalty try to Melbourne winger Craig Smith gives them a 20-18 win.
2001 Newcastle win the first night grand final, 30-24 over Parramatta.
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 North Queensland.
2008 Manly secure a record 40-0 win over Melbourne.
2014 South Sydney win their first premiership in 43 years, beating Canterbury-Bankstown 30-6
Qualification and prize
The two Grand Finalists qualify via finals series play-offs at the end of the season. In the current system, the eight teams finishing highest on the ladder after all the home and away rounds qualify for the four-week-long finals series culminating in the Grand Final. The team that finishes the regular season at the top of the ladder is said to have won the minor premiership.
Venue and schedule
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.
- "Aussie Stadium". Australian Stadiums. Retrieved 22 January 2007.
- "NRL to host a twilight Grand Final". ABC News. 18 December 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
- "Fellowship of the rings". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 March 2005.
- Australian Associated Press (8 June 2010). "NSW to retain NRL grand final". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 June 2010.