The NRL Grand Final
The National Rugby League (NRL) is widely regarded as the best Rugby competition not only in Australia but in the world. It culminates in the NRL Grand Final, when the season’s premiers are crowned. Until 2000, it was always played on a Saturday afternoon, but kick off is now at 7:15 p.m. The Grand Final in particular is watched and attended by huge crowds, and is steeped in various traditions. The event delivers some of the world’s best Rugby to fans, and is also a hugely patriotic day for Australians.
NRL Grand Final Traditions
Most well-loved sporting events have their fair share of rituals and ceremony, and the NRL Grand Final is no exception. Since 1999 it has been one of the major aspects of Sydney’s Stadium Australia Olympic Legacy. The arena was constructed as the primary athletics venue for the 2000 Summer Olympics, and the Grand Final has used the space to draw huge crowds ever since. The first year it was contested at Stadium Australia, the attendance record was shattered with more than 107,999 spectators. IN 2010 it was secured as the Grand Final venue by the government of New South Wales until 2022, so this tradition is safe for some time.
The Grand Final Breakfast is always much-anticipated, and is held in the week before the game. It is attended by both teams and hundreds of guests including special NRL attendees, sponsors, commercial partners and the media, and is screened live at the end of the NRL premiership betting season.
On the day of the game itself, an opening ceremony kicks off the festivities with live entertainment and a performance of the national anthem. This is done by well-known acts from Australasia and abroad, and usually includes great competitions for fans as well. The pre-game entertainment culminates in the NRL trophy being delivered to the field by an Australian Army helicopter. Once the Final has been played, members of the winning team are all awarded premiership rings during a presentation ceremony. Australian national team selectors also choose a Man of the Match, and this player is given the Clive Churchill Medal. The NRL trophy is presented to the winning team captain by none other than the Prime Minister of Australia.
Notable NRL Grand Finals
The NRL Grand Final is always exciting, but there have been several games that set records or help particular significance in the history of the League. These include the South Sydney victory over Balmain in 1909, where they were declared premiers after sowing up and kicking off to an imaginary team when both sides has agreed to forfeit, and the St. George team’s world record of 11 straight premierships in 1966. The 1989 match is still hailed by many as the best Grand Final ever, with Canberra recovering from a 14-2 score to beat Balmain 19-14 during extra time and become the first team outside of New South Wales to take the title. Manly was able to perform just an impressive a feat in 2008, when the team beat Melbourne by a record 40 to 0. The Finals continue to produce new game and spectator attendance records, and to keep every fan enthralled.