Expansion of the National Rugby League

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The National Rugby League is the top level rugby league competition in Australia. It was formed in 1998 after the merger of the Australian Super League and the Australian Rugby League. It originally contained twenty teams but this was cut down to 14 by 2000. Expansion increased this number back up to 16.


The Australian Super league and the ARL combined had 22 teams. When the NRL was formed in 1998 it was decided that there would only be 20 teams. The Melbourne Storm were the first expansion club, added for the 1998 season. This meant that the NRL would have to remove three teams: the WA Reds, the South Queensland Crushers and the Hunter Mariners. In 1999 the Adelaide Rams and the Gold Coast Chargers were also removed from the competition. The same fate happened for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2000

In addition, the NRL achieved further reduction in the number teams through mergers of established Sydney clubs - St George Dragons merged with Illawarra Steelers, Western Suburbs Magpies merged with Balmain Tigers, and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles merged with North Sydney Bears.

Club Colours Years Contested
Melbourne Melbourne colours.svg 1998 – current
St George Illawarra St. George colours.svg 1999 – current
Wests Tigers Wests Tigers colours.svg 2000 – current
Northern Eagles Northern Eagles colours.svg 2000 – 2002
Gold Coast Titans Gold Coast Titans colours.svg 2007 – current

South Sydney Rabbitohs[edit]

The South Sydney Rabbitohs were re-admitted to the competition for the 2002 NRL season after a legal battle with the NRL over their expulsion in the 2000 season. .

Gold Coast Titans[edit]

The Gold Coast Titans were admitted to the NRL for the 2007 season beating out bids from the Central Coast Bears and Wellington, NZ.

Next expansion period[edit]

In November 2012 as part of the release of the ARL's Strategic Plan it was announced that there would be a review into expanding the NRL at the end of the 2014 season.[1]

The Parramatta Eels are also growing stronger ties with the American NFL competition signing a player from Seattle, but this person will remain unknown until the 2015 season starts. Former Fullback Jarryd Hayne has also recently left the NRL to play in the NFL. If the Eels and other clubs continue to visit the USA and make more people in America interested in Rugby League, it could see the game rapidly expanding all over the United States. From there, the NRL and NFL will become closer together and will transfer players, coaches and staff in general more regularly. 2014/2015 is probably the first major connection between the NRL and the NFL. However, no plans have been proposed to expand into the USA just yet. [2] [3]

The following bids are currently lobbying both the ARL and governments for support.

Brisbane Bombers[edit]

In January 2011, David Gallop, then CEO of the NRL, confirmed he had spoken to a bid team delegate seeking to create Brisbane's second NRL team. If their bid is successful they would play at Suncorp Stadium on alternate weekends to the Brisbane Broncos. This team name in July 2011 was announced as the Brisbane Bombers.[4] brisbanebombers.com.au

(Brisbane) Western Corridor NRL bid[edit]

In August 2010, the Ipswich Jets formally announced the creation of a bid team for 2013 with the future club to based in the Ipswich-West Brisbane corridor in order to capitalise on the massive population boom projected for that region. The move would effectively see the promotion of the existing local Queensland Cup side to the higher NRL premiership.[5] Western Corridor NRL bid site

Central Coast Bears[edit]

In 2005 the North Sydney Bears planned on rejoining the league as the Central Coast Bears and basing themselves out of Gosford, New South Wales and will use Central Coast Stadium. The bid team plans to unite the current North Sydney and Central Coast districts under the one team.[6] centralcoastbears.com.au

Central Queensland NRL bid[edit]

In April 2009, a consortium from the Central Queensland region declared their intent to launch a bid for an NRL franchise to be based in Rockhampton in the next expansion period.[7] The bid is aiming to be a new club by 2013.[8] cqnrlbid.com.au

Wellington NRL bid[edit]

The Wellington Rugby League have been working on a proposal and business plan for a second New Zealand based team since 2008,the wellington side would be called Wellington Tigers.[9] The potential club would be based in Wellington.[10] This plan is now being launched and aims to have the Wellington team in the NRL by 2018. It was launched on the 23rd of November 2014. [11]

Christchurch NRL bid[edit]

The Canterbury Rugby League have been working on a proposal and business plan for a third New Zealand based team since 2014.The NRL have announced that they would either get in the NSW Cup or Queensland Cup.[12]The NZ Warriors have been wanting a second new zealand team in the past few years.This team will be a South Island potentially playing games in Christchurch. The Papanui Tigers are a major possibility but as there is already a Tigers NRL side they will become the Papanui Pukekos. [13]

Dunedin NRL bid[edit]

The NZ Warriors have been wanting a second new zealand team in the past few years.[14]

Past Brothers NRL bid[edit]

The Past Brothers have been wanting a second Brisbane team in the past few years.[15][16][17][18][19]

Papua New Guinea NRL bid[edit]

In October 2008, a Papua New Guinea bid team was launched with government funding and support.[20] An official website was launched in September 2009 detailing the progress of the PNG bid and its aim to provide social and economic benefits for the country as a whole.

West Coast Pirates[edit]

In 2006 the Western Australia Rugby League announced that the Perth-based WA Reds were to be resurrected with an aim to re-join the NRL. In 2012, the WA Reds were rebranded as the West Coast Pirates.[21] Both West Coast Pirates and the WA Reds played out of Perth Oval in the under-age S. G. Ball Cup, with an aim to having a number of WA-born juniors when the bid joins the NRL [22] West Coast Pirates


  1. ^ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/western-australia-a-candidate-for-new-nrl-club/story-e6frg6n6-1226508501243
  2. ^ http://www.nrl.com/arthur-cagey-on-eels-usa-secrets/tabid/10874/newsid/83060/default.aspx
  3. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/parramatta-eels-link-with-nfl-super-bowl-champs-seattle-seahawks-in-quest-to-reach-top-20140628-zspgz.html
  4. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/league/nrl-premiership/brisbane-based-expansion-bid-team-hoping-to-take-off-in-the-nrl-from-2013-as-the-bombers/story-fn2mcuj6-1226094039485 (viewed 16 July 2011)
  5. ^ Jets plan NRL bid | Ipswich News | Local News in Ipswich | Ipswich Queensland Times
  6. ^ The Official Website of the Central Coast Bears NRL Bid | Home
  7. ^ Central Queensland NRL Bid
  8. ^ Central Qld NRL bid eyes 2013 kick-off - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  9. ^ http://www.capitaltimes.co.nz/Second-league-spot-here (viewed 16 May 2013
  10. ^ http://www.footyfootyfooty.com/2010/11/interview-with-wellington-rl-ceo-jason.html (viewed 16 May 2013)
  11. ^ http://www.nrl.com/push-for-second-new-zealand-team-in-nrl/tabid/10874/newsid/83099/default.aspx
  12. ^ http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/league/65562068/bid-for-second-new-zealand-nrl-team-gets-boost-with-feeder-team-announced
  13. ^ http://www.nzwarriors.com/threads/2-wellington-nrl-bids.35040/.(viewed 14 March 2014)
  14. ^ http://www.nzwarriors.com/threads/2-wellington-nrl-bids.35040/.(viewed 14 March 2014)
  15. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/brothers-nrl-bid-hits-hurdle-with-ipswich-chapter-declaring-allegiance-to-rival-consortium/story-e6frf3ou-1226632117744
  16. ^ http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/toowoomba-rugby-league-brothers-nrl-bid/2161666/
  17. ^ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/brothers-nrl-bid-hits-hurdle/story-e6frexnr-1226631864450
  18. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/the-brothers-bid-team-say-they-would-have-30000-members-if-a-nrl-licence-was-granted/story-e6frf3ou-1226857364212
  19. ^ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/queenslands-brothers-leprechauns-make-bid-to-join-broncos-in-nrl/story-e6frexp0-1226627674201
  20. ^ rleague.com - The World of Rugby League
  21. ^ http://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nrl-premiership/west-australian-rugby-league-reveal-name-and-logo-for-proposed-perth-nrl-team-the-west-coast-pirates/story-fn2mcuj6-1226410409335?nk=48712d7b57ae8cf58b2660be61d8e8e2
  22. ^ WA Reds Rugby League