For fans of rugby league in Australia and New Zealand, the NRL is the premier competition to follow. It includes top teams such as the Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters plus plays host to the sport’s top athletes, such as Nathan Cleary. It is not just the current action which draws fans in either, the NRL has had some pretty special moments during its illustrious history.
Of course, the NRL is not the only league around this part of the world which has provided some iconic action during its lifetime. There are many memorable moments from football too and this shows why the AFL has so many followers. It also demonstrates why Aussie Rules Football in general attracts so many supporters and is often enjoyed by rugby league fans. For keen fans of rugby league around Australia and New Zealand though, the NRL remains the prime competition to keep tabs on.
As with the AFL, there have also been plenty of classic NRL moments which have made the headlines and got fans talking. But which have been the most memorable?
New Zealand Warriors finals debut in 2001
2001 was a big year for the NRL because the league’s only non-Aussie side rebranded from the Auckland Warriors to the New Zealand Warriors. Although this was in itself memorable, it was their first finals appearance that season which really caught the eye.
The Warriors had been expected to struggle by many in 2001 but ignored this to qualify for their first finals series. This was despite finishing in eighth place during the regular season and being in danger of missing out on making the finals at one point.
A 4-game winning streak towards the end of the season got them back on track though and saw them into the finals to face the Parramatta Eels. Although they got thrashed 56-12, their headline-grabbing performance overall in 2001 as the newly crowned NZ Warriors was quite something.
2008 Grand Final romp for Manly
In 2008’s Grand Final, the top two sides from the regular NRL season faced off. This was actually a repeat of the previous year’s final and was expected to be a tight affair by many. In the end though, it produced a stunning, iconic win for Manly.
This was the first time ever to date that a team had not scored in a Grand Final game but also Manly’s first title since 1996. Tries from Matt Ballin and Michael Robertson late in the first half got the ball rolling, while a couple more tries from Robertson after the break gave him a hat-trick to seal the tie. With Manly putting on a real show, tries from Steven Bell and Steve Menzies in their last games for the team were a nice touch.
Golden Point Premiership win for Cowboys in 2015
The NRL has certainly served up some awesome moments in its history and the Premiership win by the North Queensland Cowboys in 2015 is definitely one of them. This was not just because it was their first-ever title, but also because it was won by a Golden Point. This was the first time an NRL Grand Final had ever been decided in that way!
This gets even better when you remember that the Cowboys were trailing with only one minute left, before Kyle Feldt levelled the score at 16-16. Top goal kicker Jonathan Thurston might have hit the post with his kick afterwards, but this did not deter the Cowboys. Making up for his earlier miss, Thurston kicked a drop goal to seal a Golden Point win 17-16.
Women’s NRL set up in 2018
2018 brought another big moment for this league when the women’s NRL was formed. This happened shortly after the 2017 Women’s World Cup and is a major milestone in the history of the competition.
Operating in a round-robin format, 2018’s edition had some women’s NRL games held as curtain-raisers to men’s games, such as the 2018 Grand Final. The founding teams of the women’s NRL in 2018 were the Brisbane Broncos, NZ Warriors, Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons. Brisbane Broncos emerged victorious that year, after beating the Dragons in the Grand Final.
NRL has had some awesome moments
As the above shows, it is clear that the NRL has had some fantastic moments in its history. This is not a surprise when you think of the top teams who compete in it and the awesome players they have in their squads. It is also no surprise when you think about how exciting rugby league is to watch.