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National Rugby League

The National Rugby League (NRL) is one of the most popular sporting competitions in Australia and, in recent times, New Zealand, consisting of fifteen teams playing Rugby League football against each other.

The fifteen teams that currently comprise the NRL are:

Teams from Metropolitan Sydney

Teams from outside Sydney

History of the NRL

The National Rugby League is the result of a joint venture between two competitions which co-existed in the late 1990s - the Australian Rugby League[?] and Super League[?].

The Australian Rugby League grew directly out of the New South Wales Rugby League, founded in 1907. The NSWRL's First Grade competition consisted only of teams from metropolitan Sydney from 1907 until 1982. After 1982 the NSWRL continued to add new teams from across Australia, and also New Zealand (in the case of the Warriors) throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The NSWRL changed its name to the Australian Rugby League around 1992 in recognition of the growing number of teams from outside the State of New South Wales.

Super League was a creation of international media magnate Rupert Murdoch in a much-criticised move to monopolise the media coverage of Rugby League football in Australia. Super League consisted of many teams poached from the Australian Rugby League and also other teams created for the sole purpose of Super League, e.g. the Hunter Mariners[?]. Media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch such as Sydney's "The Daily Telegraph" newspaper and the Foxtel[?] pay television[?] system were given preference in the coverage of Super League games. For several years in the 1990s both Rupert Murdoch's Super League and the Australian Rugby League co-existed running two separate competitions.

Understandably, Rugby League fans turned away in droves. With the sponsorship market and total crowd attendances being divided up among two competitions and a much larger number of teams compared to before Super League, teams soon found themselves in financial difficulty. It was in this cash-strapped environment that negotiations between Super League and the Australian Rugby League took place, resulting in a joint venture between the two - the National Rugby League as it exists to-day. Nevertheless, many teams were no longer viable and thus disappeared from the new NRL, and four more merged to create two new "joint venture" teams.

How the NRL works

The fifteen NRL teams play each other in a rotating roster that lasts for approximately twenty-four rounds every year from the beginning of March to the middle of August. This is known as the regular season. There is one round every week-end. Seven games occur in each round on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday during the regular season - this means that one team each round must take a bye.

The winner of each game per round is awarded two points on the League Ladder. The team that is on bye is also awarded two points automatically. If a game is drawn between the two teams, each team is awarded one point each. At the end of the regular season, the eight teams with the highest point totals on the League Ladder qualify for the Finals Series. This consists of a number of knockout and sudden-death games over several weeks between the top eight teams in August and September until there are only two teams remaining. These two teams then play in the Grand Final, which has always taken place at Telstra Stadium since 1999 on a Sunday in late September. Telstra Stadium was the primary athletics venue during the 2000 Olympic Games held in Sydney. From 1988 to 1998 the Grand Final was held at Sydney Football Stadium[?], and until 1987 was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground[?] for around eighty years.

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