The National Rugby League (NRL) is the top-level domestic club competition for men’s rugby, run by the Australian Rugby League Commission. The league contains clubs which were in the Sidney Club Rugby League that had been running since 1908. Matches in NRL run from March to October and are played in Australia and New Zealand. The NRL Grand Final is the ultimate deciding game for the premiership and is the most popular sports event in Australia. The winners of the Grand Final get to face the champions of the Super League competition in the pre-season World Club Challenge.
There are in total 16 clubs in the NRL. Eight of the clubs are from within the Greater Sidney, three in Queensland, two in the New South Wales, and each of the remaining ones in Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, and New Zealand. There are no divisions or conferences in the league as it has a single group system with no promotion or relegation from or to other leagues. There are only eleven clubs which have featured consistently in the NRL in every season since 1998 when it was incepted as some merged later on.
NRL Season Structure
The pre-season for NRL usually begins in February and runs till March. During this time, several matches are organised by the clubs to give opportunities to try out various playing combinations. There are some clubs, however, which play for trophies.
The Wests and Easts, for instance, play for the Foundation Cup while St. George Illawarra and South Sidney play for the Charity Shield. The venue for most of the trials is usually in cities that do not host National Rugby League matches. There was a time where the pre-season included a World Sevens Rugby League tournament, but this stopped because of injury concerns.
The All Stars is another major pre-season fixture which began in 2010. For the Beetson Trophy, however, the public chooses the teams that participate through voting. Other pre-season events include the Auckland Nines and the World Club Challenge.
Regular NRL Premiership Season
The NRL premiership season usually starts in March. The regular season games are played for 26 weeks to end in September. Most of the games are scheduled for Thursday to Sunday of each week. There are some special themed weeks during the premiership season, which include Rivalry Round, Women in League Round, and Heritage Round. Several separate trophies are also usually presented to rival teams throughout the season, including the Ron Coote Cup, Jack Gibson Cup, and the Bandage Bear Cup among others.
For each season game played, a team is awarded two points for a win, one point for a drawn game, and no points for a loss. Ranking of the teams on the ladder is based on the competition points. For teams with the same competition points, match point differentials, and percentage of points are used for the ranking. The club which is ranked at the top of the ladder by the end or regular season is declared Minor Premiers.