NRL Expansion Discussion

I have always thought a Christchurch based team would make a lot of sense. From a marketing perspective it could also allow for an “Island of Origin” series to run alongside the State of Origin.

Surely with so many strong, wide ranging bids from Perth, PNG and Christchurch, NRL should just bite the bullet and go to 20 teams.

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I’d still be cautious of expanding too quickly. I’d bring in the 18th team within 2 years, then give them & the Dolphins a few years to settle before adding 2 more.

Adding 3 new teams so soon after adding the Dolphins could do more harm than good, with big money being thrown around & the player market being thrown into turmoil with effectively 90 new spots to be filled.

We saw in the 90s that quick expansion can put pressure on teams, especially struggling teams. Foundation clubs like Wests, Balmain & Norths were pretty much forced into mergers to survive (which ultimately failed Norths anyway). Souths were removed from the competition.

Newer teams were also effected. Illawarra would have struggled to stand alone & took a deal with St George. Gold Coast rebrand themselves several times before folding. Perth, Adelaide & South Queensland weren’t given enough time to establish themselves. Hunter were a bad idea from the start, and realistically would never have got off the ground if it wasn’t for the split competition.

Even our Panthers were under pressure in the late 90s, when the NRL was looking at streamlining the competition. Joining Super League probably saved us from a merger with the Eels :face_vomiting:.

I think that adding 2 teams at a time, with a minimum of 5 years until the next expansion is the way to go.

As I have said in earlier posts, announce the 18th team asap. Give the remaining bidders a timeframe for when the next opportunity is, so that they have something to work towards for their next bid (ie sponsorship, grass roots participation, promotion in their area).

The main difference though was that a large amount of NSWRL/ARL clubs in the 90’s were on financially shaky ground, not to mention the league itself was in a poor financial state as well a lack of developmental pathways.

In contrast, the league is in the strongest financial position it has ever been, participation is growing stronger every year, and a robust Womens competition has lead to pathway for women players. Clubs revenues are up and a majority are on very solid financial ground.

If there ever was a time to expand this would be it. I don’t think they have to slow it down too much… 3 teams over 2/3 years is doable and I don’t think it would cause too much ripples across the league. It also allows for the NRL to sell the next TV / Digital Rights Deal with an additional 2 games as part of the package.

I do think now in this position the worst thing we could do is stand still.


In the (much) longer term I would like to see 2 divisions of 12 teams each.
Promotion/relegation for 2 teams from each division.
22 rounds of the minor premiership (all teams play each other home and away).
Silly season (aka SOO etc) to be played during a mid-season break.
Finals would need re-jigging, perhaps the old 5-team system.


:warning: Bears Fans might not want to read this.

I am kind of peeved with the Bears. They obviously have now worked out by now that the NRL does not desire another NSW team, I believe the expansion in the Sydney/Greater NSW region is pretty much done at this point.

They could have realised their bid wasn’t to be, and gracefully made their exit. I liked the North Sydney Bears, I think you would find many back in the day to say that the Bears was their second favourite side (apart from the team they barracked for), and why not… Billy Moore, Jason Taylor, Gary Larson, Greg Florimo… they were an entertaining side… but they ‘WERE’.

No to hold on to any sort of hope of a NRL side they have decided to hijack the Perth bid… WHY?

They have got into the ear of PVL and now he seems hellbent on “getting the Bears back” for some asinine reason.

The Perth Bid have even said even though they are open to the idea they would rather go it alone. The Perth team deserves its OWN identity, something a city can rally behind and call their own… not some parading corpse… mutton dressed a lamb so to speak. I don’t feel the Perth team will get traction if they have to play half their games out of Gosford and have the heritage of a former great club on the other side of the country stapled to it’s side.

The sun has set on the Bears. They have had a great run, and picked up two premierships (1921, 1922), but like other past foundation clubs Cumberland, Glebe and Newtown, it’s time to end and move onto the next chapter.

Perth deserves it’s on team… hopefully sanity prevails and we see a fresh new franchise on the West Coast in the near future.

I have some thoughts (concerns) about the PNG bid, but I will pick that up when I get my thoughts together.


I’d like to see the Bears back, but not as part of a Perth bid. For me any Perth bid has to be the reincarnation of the Western Reds - probably the most Aussie emblem in the history of the game.

Where does that leave the Bears? As much as I’d like to see them return playing out of NSO & Gosford, I think realistically the best idea would be for them to get behind the Burleigh Bears, and make them the next Queensland side, with the hope of getting 2-3 games at NSO per year.

Failing that, look to Central Queensland or maybe Pasifika for a partnership.

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For my 2c the only hope for the bears would be to move to central qld.

If we look at the former first grade teams, they don’t even have the biggest support or base; Newton is far in front, I’d even put the Steelers, Balmain and Magpies ahead of them.

It’s sad, but a fact of life. The bears unfortunately are fading into memory, and even the brand is so so.

I’m a member of both Norths & Newtown, and have been for a few years now. They have been pretty level as far as member numbers go while I have been a member. Not sure how they compare to the others.