2008 NRL season

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2008 National Rugby League
National Rugby League 2007.png
Teams 16
Premiers Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah (7th title)
Minor premiers Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne[1]
Matches played 201
Points scored 8470 (total)
42.139 (per match)
Attendance 3,279,663 (total)
16,317 (per match)
Top point scorer(s) Cronulla colours.svg Luke Covell (206)
Top try scorer(s) Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Brett Stewart (22)

The 2008 NRL season was the 101st season of professional rugby league club competition in Australia, and the eleventh run by the National Rugby League. For the second year, sixteen teams competed for the 2008 Telstra Premiership title. The season commenced with the first matches played on 14 March and ended with the Grand Final, played on 5 October. The premiership was won by the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles who set the record for the highest Grand Final victory in Australia's rugby league history.

2008 also marked the launch of the National Youth Competition, an under 20 competition running parallel to the senior competition under the sponsorship name, the Toyota Cup.

Centenary of rugby league[edit]

Rugby league was first introduced into Australia in 1907, with a meeting in Sydney on 8 August 1908 effectively forming a new breakaway league from the New South Wales Rugby Union. The new body was known as the New South Wales Rugby Football League, and became the first professional sporting code in Australia. In the following months, eight Sydney-based teams were formed and signed up to play in the New South Wales Rugby Football League's premiership, with another club joining a week into competition.

The New South Wales Rugby League continued to run the competition up until and including 1994 when it passed on responsibility to the Australian Rugby League, the national authority for rugby league in Australia. In 1997 a rival Super League competition run by News Limited was started and signed up several existing teams from the Australian Rugby League. After both bodies lost a lot of money that year, a truce was signed and a new competition was formed for the 1998 season, under the brand name "National Rugby League."

Centenary of Rugby League logo

Regarded as the spiritual home of rugby league in Australia, Birchgrove Oval hosted the official launch of the NRL's 2008 Centenary rugby league season.[2] During the season, the NRL staged a number of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the sport in Australia. The opening match of the 2008 season was held between the remaining two "foundation clubs" from 1908, the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. A 'Heritage round' was introduced to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the first round of competition in the New South Wales Rugby League, whereby teams faced opponents that entered the competition in similar time frames.

Several events took place to celebrate the 100th anniversary of landmark moments in rugby league in Australia. These events began in August 2007 with a re-enactment of the meeting which led to the formation of the New South Wales Rugby League, essentially the beginning of rugby league in Australia. In January and February 2008, several of the foundation clubs, the Newtown Jets, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Balmain Tigers, Sydney Roosters, North Sydney Bears and Western Suburbs Magpies, hosted special functions at the places they were officially formed.

Season summary[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Further information: 2008 NRL season results

The 2008 season was one week longer than the 2007 competition, allowing an extra bye on top of the existing one allocated to each club. In addition, the scheduling of the earlier representative fixtures was changed, including the removal of Monday Night Football on weekends prior to the City vs Country match and the ANZAC Test. The City vs Country fixture was pushed back to Friday night where it had been prior to 2007. Many of these initiatives were announced mid-way through the 2007 season by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Rugby League, David Gallop, in an attempt to help reduce player fatigue after several complaints of player injuries caused by the short turnaround between some matches.

2008 also saw a change in how the draw is devised, with teams nominating their preferred home opponents in order of preference. The NRL consulted these requests when structuring the season's fixtures. This change is intended to maximise attendances by allowing local derbies and other high-interest matches to be played twice a year. It is a departure from previous methods, which focused on trying to produce an equally difficult playing schedule for each club.[3] The draw was released on 19 October 2007.

On the back of increasing public pressure, the National Rugby League decided to move the Grand Final back from the later timeslot of 7:00pm to 5:00pm. The Grand Final had traditionally been held on a Sunday afternoon up until 2000, after which it was relocated to the evening in order to accommodate the Channel 9's programming desires. Whilst the late night scheduling was not considered as much an issue for New South Wales audiences because of the Labour Day public holiday the following day, it was argued by many Queenslanders that such a time was unsuitable for families on the eve of a weekday. Many individuals in the general public and the media pushed for a full return to a 3:00pm kickoff time where it had been for many decades, whilst Channel 9 continued to insist on 7:00pm. As a compromise, the National Rugby League decided on a "twilight" match starting at 5:00pm. It was the first time since the 2000 season that the Grand Final was played in daylight, largely due to a change in commencement of Daylight Savings Time in New South Wales, ACT and Victoria in 2008.[4]

Teams[edit]

The number of teams in the NRL remained 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 (St. George Illawarra are both from Sydney and Wollongong) 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. The Melbourne Storm were the defending premiers.

For the first time since the 1988 introduction of teams outside of New South Wales, an under-20 competition ran incorporating sides fielded by each of the sixteen premiership clubs. The National Youth Competition, known as the Toyota Cup for sponsorship purposes was solely for under-20 players.

Brisbane Broncos
21st season
Ground: Suncorp Stadium
Coach: Wayne Bennett
Captain: Darren Lockyer
Canterbury Bulldogs home jersey 1997.svg
Bulldogs RLFC
74th season
Ground: ANZ Stadium
Coach: Steve Folkes
Captain: Andrew Ryan
Canberra Raiders
27th season
Ground: Canberra Stadium
Coach: Neil Henry
Captain: Alan Tongue
Cronulla Sharks
42nd season
Ground: Toyota Stadium
Coach: Ricky Stuart
Captain: Paul Gallen
Gold Coast Titans
2nd season
Ground: Skilled Park
Coach: John Cartwright
Captain: Scott Prince & Luke Bailey
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
59th season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Des Hasler
Captain: Matt Orford
Melbourne Storm
11th season
Ground Olympic Park Stadium
Coach: Craig Bellamy
Captain: Cameron Smith
Newcastle Knights home jersey 2008.svg
Newcastle Knights
21st season
Ground: EnergyAustralia Stadium
Coach: Brian Smith
Captain: Danny Buderus
New Zealand home jersey 2006.svg
New Zealand Warriors
14th season
Ground: Mt Smart Stadium
Coach: Ivan Cleary
Captain: Steve Price
North Queensland Cowboys
14th season
Ground: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Coach: Graham MurrayIan Millward
Captain: Johnathan Thurston
Parramatta Eels
62nd season
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
Coach: Michael Hagan
Captain: Nathan Cayless
Penrith Panthers Primary Jersey 2007.svg
Penrith Panthers
42nd season
Ground: CUA Stadium
Coach: Matthew Elliott
Captain: Petero Civoniceva
Souths09away.jpg
South Sydney Rabbitohs
99th season
Ground: ANZ Stadium
Coach: Jason Taylor
Captain: David Kidwell & Roy Asotasi
Sydney Roosters
101st season
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Coach: Brad Fittler
Captain: Craig FitzgibbonBraith Anasta
St. George Illawarra Dragons home jersey 1999.svg
St. George Illawarra Dragons
10th season
Ground: OKI Jubilee Stadium & WIN Stadium
Coach: Nathan Brown
Captain: Mark Gasnier
Wests Tigers
9th season
Ground: Campbelltown Stadium & Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Tim Sheens
Captain: Brett Hodgson

Records set in 2008[edit]

  • Gold Coast Titans winger Jordan Atkins matched the standing record for most tries in a first grade debut set by Canterbury Bankstown's Tony Nash in season 1942 when he scored four tries in round 1 of 2008.
  • The Brisbane Broncos set a new club home attendance record for a regular season game when 50,612 spectators attended their Round 3 match against the North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium.
  • The Bulldogs set a club home crowd record when 36,526 spectators attended their Round 4 clash against the Sydney Roosters. The match marked Roosters forward Willie Mason's first match against his old club, and also set a record for the highest attended club match in Sydney during a premiership season (excluding finals).
  • Ruben Wiki became only the 10th player in history to play 300 first grade games, and is the first New Zealander to pass this milestone.
  • The South Sydney Rabbitohs equalled the 2nd biggest comeback in NRL history in Round 16 against the North Queensland Cowboys. After trailing 28–4 after fifty minutes, the Rabbitohs won the match 29–28.
  • The North Queensland Cowboys recorded their longest losing streak of 13 matches (round 7–21)
  • Melbourne Storm became the first club to win three minor premierships in a row (and also three minor premierships overall) since the founding of the NRL, but these titles have since been stripped by the NRL as a result of gross salary cap infringements.
  • The New Zealand Warriors became the first eighth-placed club to win in the first week of the finals since the McIntyre Final 8 System was introduced in season 1999. They progressed to the preliminary final, the furthest stage that any 8th-placed team has progressed. This record stood for 12 months, when the 8th-placed team from the following season, the Parramatta Eels, went one better and made the Grand Final.
  • The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles' Grand Final defeat of defending premiers Melbourne Storm, 40–0, is the greatest winning margin in a Grand Final, eclipsing the record set in 1975 which was Eastern Suburbs 38–0 win over St. George Dragons. The last team to be kept scoreless in a Grand Final was Cronulla in 1978 in the Grand Final replay against Manly 16–0.

Marketing[edit]

Sponsorship[edit]

For the eighth straight season the National Rugby League's maintained its naming rights sponsor Telstra with the competition again known as the Telstra Premiership. In addition to the Telstra Premiership logo appearing over the right upper chest on each team's playing jersey, the "Centenary of Rugby League in Australia" logo was displayed just above to commemorate the competition's centenary.

Following their successful sponsorship of "Friday Night Football" in 2007, the Foster's Group decided to change the specific brand sponsorship from their Carlton Draught product to now represent Victoria Bitter. Harvey Norman continued its sponsorship of the State of Origin series while AAMI also continued its association with the annual City vs Country Origin clash. Additionally, Bundaberg Rum maintained naming rights to both the ANZAC Test and Monday Night Football.

Throughout the season, various charities and other non-profit organisations received exposure on Sunday Football through Rugby League's One Community Program.

Advertising[edit]

In celebration of the code's 100th anniversary the NRL and its ad agency MJW created for 2008 a Centenary Tribute ad which used historical footage of games and stars of yesteryear, blending in with action sequences of the modern day. Original epic orchestral music was used as the soundtrack. The ad opened with still imagery from 1908 to the modern day juxtaposed and rolling as though an ensemble of players are entering the Sydney Cricket Ground from the dressing rooms in the Members Stand.

The morphed film segments included a 1930s Australia v England Test with modern Australian players in the backline; Wayne Pearce in the 1980s on the sideline at the Sydney Cricket Ground next to a mud covered 1960s player and a sequence where Darren Lockyer circa 2000 takes a pass from Clive Churchill circa 1950. Clever touches include Dragons Mark Gasnier backing up his uncle Reg Gasnier some 40 years apart; Sharks stars of different generations, Steve Rogers and Andrew Ettingshausen running together and Souths' Craig Wing in 2008 putting Ron Coote through a gap in 1968. The final shot shows the 2008 version of Norm Provan and Arthur Summons covered head to toe in mud & recreating the "Gladiators" image from the 1963 Grand Final acknowledged by the 2007 Grand Finalists Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis in front of iconic images of Grand Finals gone by including John Sattler being chaired from the field in 1971 while Brad Fittler celebrates his 2002 win and Bradley Clyde his 1994 premiership.[5]

Ladder[edit]

Team Pld W D L B PF PA PD Pts
1 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 24 17 0 7 2 584 282 +302 38
2 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 24 17 0 7 2 645 355 +290 38
3 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla 24 17 0 7 2 451 384 +67 38
4 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 24 15 0 9 2 511 446 +65 34
5 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 24 14 1 9 2 560 452 +108 33
6 Canberra colours.svg Canberra 24 13 0 11 2 640 527 +113 30
7 St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra 24 13 0 11 2 489 378 +111 30
8 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand 24 13 0 11 2 502 567 -65 30
9 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle 24 12 0 12 2 516 486 +30 28
10 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 24 11 0 13 2 528 560 -32 26
11 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 24 11 0 13 2 501 547 -46 26
12 Panthers colours.svg Penrith 24 10 1 13 2 504 611 -107 25
13 Gold Coast Titans colours.svg Gold Coast 24 10 0 14 2 476 586 -110 24
14 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 24 8 0 16 2 453 666 -213 20
15 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 24 5 0 19 2 474 638 -164 14
16 Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs 24 5 0 19 2 433 782 -349 14

For the first time since the 1999 season, the team finishing in 8th spot won more games than it had lost. It should be also noted that on that occasion, 17 teams were in the competition.

Ladder progression[edit]

  • 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 in last place on the ladder in that round
  • Underlined numbers indicate that the team had a bye during that round.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
1 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 2 2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 14 16 18 18 20 22 22 24 26 28 28 30 32 34 36 36 38
2 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 0 0 2 4 4 6 8 10 12 14 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 30 32 32 32 34 36 38
3 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla 2 4 4 6 8 8 8 10 12 14 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 26 28 28 30 32 32 34 36 38
4 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 2 2 4 6 8 8 8 10 12 14 16 18 18 20 22 24 26 26 26 28 30 30 30 30 32 34
5 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 2 4 6 6 8 8 10 12 12 12 14 16 16 16 18 19 21 21 23 25 27 27 27 29 31 33
6 Canberra colours.svg Canberra 0 2 4 4 6 6 8 8 8 10 12 12 12 14 16 16 16 18 20 22 22 24 26 28 28 30
7 St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra 0 2 2 2 2 2 4 6 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 22 22 24 24 24 26 28 30 30
8 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand 0 2 2 4 6 6 6 8 10 10 10 12 12 12 12 14 16 18 20 22 22 24 26 26 28 30
9 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle 2 4 4 4 4 6 8 10 10 10 12 12 14 16 16 16 16 18 18 20 22 24 24 26 28 28
10 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 2 4 4 4 4 6 8 8 10 12 14 14 16 16 16 16 18 18 20 20 22 24 24 24 24 26
11 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 2 2 4 4 4 4 6 8 10 10 12 12 14 16 16 18 18 18 18 20 20 22 24 26 26 26
12 Panthers colours.svg Penrith 0 0 2 4 4 6 8 8 10 12 14 16 16 16 16 17 19 19 21 23 23 23 25 25 25 25
13 Gold Coast Titans colours.svg Gold Coast 2 2 4 6 8 10 12 12 14 16 16 16 18 20 20 20 20 22 22 22 22 22 24 24 24 24
14 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 4 4 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 16 16 18 18 20 20 20 20
15 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 0 0 0 2 4 6 6 6 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 10 10 10 10 10 12 12 12 14 14
16 Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs 0 2 4 4 4 6 6 8 8 8 10 10 10 12 12 12 12 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14


Finals series[edit]

The National Rugby League employs the McIntyre Final Eight System and, for the second year running, preliminary finals were allowed to be played outside of Sydney.

  Qualifying Finals Semi Finals Preliminary Finals Grand Final
                                     
1  Melbourne Storm 15
8  NZ Warriors 18
  1W  Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 32  
2  Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 38   4W  NZ Warriors 30        NZ Warriors 6    
7  St. George Illawarra 6   2L  Sydney Roosters 13            Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 40
         Melbourne Storm 0
3  Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 36         2W  Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0    
6  Canberra Raiders 10   3W  Brisbane Broncos 14        Melbourne Storm 28  
  1L  Melbourne Storm 16  
4  Sydney Roosters 16
5  Brisbane Broncos 24
Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
QUALIFYING FINALS
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 16 – 24 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 12 September 2008, 8:00pm Sydney Football Stadium Tony Archer 18,343
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sharks 36 – 10 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 13 September 2008, 6:30pm Toyota Stadium Jared Maxwell 18,252
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles 38 – 6 St. George colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons 13 September 2008, 8:30pm Brookvale Oval Shayne Hayne 19,227
Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 15 – 18 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors 14 September 2008, 4:00pm Olympic Park Jason Robinson 15,193
SEMI FINALS
New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors 30 – 13 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 19 September 2008, 8:30pm Mt Smart Stadium Tony Archer 25,595
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 14 – 16 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 20 September 2008, 7:45pm Suncorp Stadium Shayne Hayne 50,466
PRELIMINARY FINALS
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sharks 0 – 28 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 26 September 2008, 7:45pm Sydney Football Stadium Tony Archer 27,570
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles 32 – 6 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors 27 September 2008, 7:45pm Sydney Football Stadium Shayne Hayne 32,095

Grand final[edit]

Main article: 2008 NRL Grand Final
Sunday, 5 October
17:00
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 40 – 0 Melbourne Storm
Tries:
Matt Ballin 24'
Michael Robertson 34', 47', 52'
Brent Kite 58'
David Williams 68'
Steve Menzies 73'
Steven Bell 76'
Goals:
Matt Orford (0/2)
Steve Matai (2/4)
Jamie Lyon (2/2)
Report
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Attendance: 80,388[6]
Referee/s: Tony Archer
Man of the Match: Brent Kite

Player records[edit]

In 2008 New Zealand's Ruben Wiki was the oldest player in the NRL at 35 years and 250 days.[7] Sam Perrett ran 3,720 metres with the ball in 2008, more than any other player in the competition.[8]

Top 5 point scorers[edit]

Pts Player T Gls FG
196 Cronulla colours.svg Luke Covell 14 70 0
169 Parramatta colours.svg Luke Burt 11 62 1
160 Melbourne colours.svg Cameron Smith 4 72 0
153 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Matt Orford 2 72 1
150 Newcastle colours.svg Kurt Gidley 9 57 0

Top 5 try scorers[edit]

Try Player
19 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Brett Stewart
17 Brisbane colours.svg Denan Kemp
16 Melbourne colours.svg Greg Inglis
16 New Zealand colours.svg Manu Vatuvei
15 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Shaun Kenny-Dowall
15 Canberra colours.svg Adrian Purtell
14 Cronulla colours.svg Luke Covell
14 St. George colours.svg Josh Morris

Related links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stuart Honeysett and Brent Read (23 April 2010) Shocking end to the Melbourne Storm era The Australian
  2. ^ Walshaw, Nick (7 March 2008). "Birchgrove Oval alive again". The Daily Telegraph (Australia: News Limited). Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Clubs can choose home opponents". Fox Sports. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  4. ^ NRL Moves Grand Final kick-off time
  5. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuhCPjvn83Y</ 2008 Centenary tribute ad
  6. ^ D'Souza, Miguel. "Grand Final History". wwos.ninemsn.com.au. AAP. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Toohey, Barry (2 February 2011). "Still some bite in old Mad Dog". The Daily Telegraph (Australia: News Limited). Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  8. ^ Proszenko, Adrian (6 May 2012). "Gallen set to smash record". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  1. "Club Season Crowds". NRLStats. Retrieved 2008-03-23. [dead link]
  2. National Rugby League. Centenary – The revolution of rugby National Rugby League. 8 August 2007. Retrieved on 13 August 2007.
  3. National Rugby League. Centenary grass roots celebrations National Rugby League. 8 August 2007. Retrieved on 13 August 2007.
  4. Australian Associated Press. Quayle back for momentous day in league National Rugby League. 8 August 2007. Retrieved on 13 August 2007.
  5. Australian Associated Press. Rugby League exhibit at National Museum National Rugby League. 8 August 2007. Retrieved on 13 August 2007.
  6. Australian Associated Press. Kangaroos to meet NZ in centenary test National Rugby League. 8 August 2007. Retrieved on 13 August 2007.
  7. National Rugby League. League Still Making History 100 Years On National Rugby League. 8 August 2007. Retrieved on 13 August 2007.

External links[edit]