National Rugby League
The National Rugby League (NRL) is the premier competition of rugby league football in the world and arguably of domestic rugby football of any code in the world. It is the most popular spectator competition in the 1st and 3rd biggest Australian states(population-wise), those being New South Wales and Queensland respectively.
History of Organisations
The NRL grew out of the previous New South Wales Rugby Football League, which itself grew out of the Sydney based club competition which began in 1908. The NRL was created as a result of a merger between the Rupert Murdoch owned Super league and the Kerry Packer financed ARL which had temporarily split professional rugby league football in Australia in 1997.
There are currently sixteen clubs in the NRL. Those clubs that are located in Sydney are the Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Wests Tigers, St George-Illawarra Dragons, Canterbury Bulldogs, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and the Penrith Panthers. These teams are considered the Sydney Football Clubs.
Those clubs which are located in New South Wales outside of Sydney are the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders. These clubs are the result of franchising which occurred in 1982. They are a professional amalgamation of the clubs that existed in those two cities.
Those clubs which are located in Queensland are the Brisbane Broncos, North Queensland Cowboys and the Gold Coast Titans. The Brisbane Broncos were a club that was created out of a franchise in 1988 that amalgamated the previously existing football clubs of Brisbane. The North Queensland Cowboys were created as a part of the 1995 expansion push. The Gold Coast Titans were granted a franchise to join the 2007 competition, although there had previously been clubs from the Gold Coast in the national competition.
The other two clubs that compete in NRL are the New Zealand Warriors, who play out of New Zealand and the Melbourne Storm, who play out of Victoria, Australia. The New Zealand Warriors the professional football competition in Australia as the Auckland Warriors in 1995, while the Melbourne Storm entered the NRL in 1998 following the 1997 ARL and Super League Competitions. The Melbourne Storm are an amalgamation of the Hunter Mariners, Perth Reds and South Queensland Crushers all of whom shut down after 1997.
The NRL runs for 26 rounds that are based around the Australian winter sport season. Each team receives two byes throughout the season. The top 8 from the league than go on to compete in a finals series which culminate in the grand final. The winner of the grand final is the premier of the competition. The team that finishes at the top competition ladder at the end of the 26 rounds is the minor premier. The Premier typically goes on to compete against the winner of the English Rugby Super League in the World Club Challenge.
State of Origin
Started in 1982, State of Origin is a series of three representative games played during the NRL season on a Wednesday evening between the NRL rounds. This a competition between the two main Rugby League playing states of New South Wales and Queensland. Players for State of Origin are chosen based on where they played their first senior game of football as a 16 year old and typically from the NRL Clubs. Players chosen for State of Origin cannot play for their NRL clubs the weekend before a State of Origin game is played. State of Origin, along with the Grand Final, is considered the showpiece of Australian Rugby League.