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The 1998 NRL season was the 91st season of professional rugby league football in Australia, and the inaugural season of the newly formed National Rugby League (NRL). After the 1997 season, in which the Australian Rugby League and Super League organisations ran separate competitions parallel to each other, they joined to create a reunited competition in the NRL. The first professional rugby league club to be based in Victoria, the Melbourne Storm was introduced into the League, and with the closure of the Hunter Mariners, Western Reds and South Queensland Crushers, twenty teams competed for the premiership, which culminated in the 1998 NRL grand final between the Brisbane Broncos and Canterbury Bulldogs.

1998 National Rugby League
DurationMarch 13 – September 27, 1998
Teams20
PremiersBrisbane colours.svg Brisbane (4th title)
Minor premiersBrisbane colours.svg Brisbane (3rd title)
Matches played253
Points scored10131
Attendance2937741
Top points scorer(s)Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Ivan Cleary (284)
Player of the yearNewcastle colours.svg Andrew Johns (Dally M Medal)
Top try-scorer(s)Brisbane colours.svg Darren Smith (23)
← inaugural season
1997 ARL
1997 Super League
Seasons
1999 →

Pre-seasonEdit

The National Rugby League was formed after an agreement was reached between the two rivaling competitions from 1997, the Australian Rugby League and the Super League. In December 1997, the two parties formed a joint board to run the new Australian rugby league club competition. The vast majority of the 22 clubs that contested in 1997 across the split competitions also contested the first season of the National Rugby League, with the exception of the Hunter Mariners, the Western Reds and South Queensland.

The National Rugby League imposed a $3M salary cap on each of the clubs.[1]

AdvertisingEdit

Super League's ad agency VCD in Sydney successfully kept the account post-reunification. The 1998 ad featured the song "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba with its theme of rising against adversity:

I get knocked down! But I get up again; you're never gonna keep me down.

There was no visual performance of the song in the ad which returned to the standard rugby league imagery of big hits and crunching tackles to accompany the track.

TeamsEdit

The closure of the Hunter Mariners, Western Reds and South Queensland Crushers, and the introduction of the Melbourne Storm meant that a total of twenty clubs contested the 1998 Premiership. Eleven of these clubs were from Sydney, but an agreement between the Australian Rugby League and Super League meant that many of these clubs were in danger of being cut from the competition by the 2000 season when, it was decided, only 14 clubs would be invited to contest the premiership.

Adelaide Rams
2nd season
Ground: Adelaide OvalHindmarsh Stadium
Coach: Rod ReddyDean Lance
Captain: Kerrod Walters
Auckland Warriors
4th season
Ground: Ericsson Stadium
Coach: Frank Endacott
Captain: Matthew Ridge
Balmain Tigers
91st season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Wayne Pearce
Captain: Darren Senter
Brisbane Broncos
11th season
Ground: ANZ Stadium
Coach: Wayne Bennett
Captain: Allan Langer
Canberra Raiders
17th season
Ground: Bruce Stadium
Coach: Mal Meninga
Captain: Laurie Daley
Canterbury Bulldogs
64th season
Ground: Belmore Oval
Coach: Steve Folkes
Captain: Simon GilliesDarren Britt
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
32nd season
Ground: Shark Park
Coach: John Lang
Captain: Andrew Ettinghausen
Gold Coast Chargers
11th season
Ground: Carrara Stadium
Coach: Phil Economidis
Captain: Jamie Goddard
Illawarra Steelers
17th season
Ground: WIN Stadium
Coach: Andrew Farrar
Captain: Paul McGregor
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
52nd season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Bob Fulton
Captain: Geoff Toovey
Melbourne Storm
1st season
Ground: Olympic Park Stadium
Coach: Chris Anderson
Captain: Glenn Lazarus
Newcastle Knights
11th season
Ground: Marathon Stadium
Coach: Mal Reilly
Captain: Paul Harragon
North Queensland Cowboys
4th season
Ground: Stockland Stadium
Coach: Tim Sheens
Captain: Ian Roberts & John Lomax
North Sydney Bears
91st season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Peter Louis
Captain: Jason Taylor
Parramatta Eels
52nd season
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
Coach: Brian Smith
Captain: Dean Pay
Penrith Panthers
32nd season
Ground: Penrith Stadium
Coach: Royce Simmons
Captain: Steve Carter
Sydney City Roosters
91st season
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Coach: Phil Gould
Captain: Brad Fittler
South Sydney Rabbitohs
91st season
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Coach: Steve MartinCraig Coleman
Captain: Sean Garlick
St. George Dragons
78th season
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Coach: David Waite
Captain: Mark Coyne
Western Suburbs Magpies
91st season
Ground: Campbelltown Stadium
Coach: Tommy Raudonikis
Captain: Paul Langmack

Regular seasonEdit

Rounds 5 and 7: Brisbane Broncos set a new record for their biggest win, firstly 58-4 against North Queensland Cowboys, then 60-6 against North Sydney Bears, both games being played at Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre.
Round 8: 1997 ARL premiers, the Newcastle Knights played the 1997 Super League premiers, the Brisbane Broncos and Brisbane won 26-6 in Newcastle before a crowd of 27,119, cementing their position at the top of the ladder.
Round 12: The record for the biggest comeback in premiership history was re-set by the North Queensland Cowboys who trailed 26–0 at half-time and came back to beat the Penrith Panthers 36–28.
Round 24: Ivan Cleary's tally of 284 points set a new individual record for most points scored in a season in Australian club rugby league history; it has since been beaten.

LadderEdit

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1   Brisbane Broncos (P) 24 18 1 5 688 310 +378 37
2   Newcastle Knights 24 18 1 5 562 381 +181 37
3   Melbourne Storm 24 17 1 6 546 372 +174 35
4   Parramatta Eels 24 17 1 6 468 349 +119 35
5   North Sydney Bears 24 17 0 7 663 367 +296 34
6   Sydney City Roosters 24 16 0 8 680 383 +297 32
7   Canberra Raiders 24 15 0 9 564 429 +135 30
8   St. George Dragons 24 13 1 10 486 490 -4 27
9   Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 13 0 11 489 411 +78 26
10   Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24 13 0 11 503 473 +30 26
11   Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 24 12 1 11 438 387 +51 25
12   Illawarra Steelers 24 11 1 12 476 539 -63 23
13   Balmain Tigers 24 9 1 14 381 463 -82 19
14   Penrith Panthers 24 8 2 14 525 580 -55 18
15   Auckland Warriors 24 9 0 15 417 518 -101 18
16   North Queensland Cowboys 24 9 0 15 361 556 -195 18
17   Adelaide Rams 24 7 0 17 393 615 -222 14
18   South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 5 0 19 339 560 -221 10
19   Gold Coast Chargers 24 4 0 20 289 654 -365 8
20   Western Suburbs Magpies 24 4 0 20 371 802 -431 8

Ladder progressionEdit

  • Numbers highlighted in green indicate that the team finished the round inside the top 10.
  • Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the team finished first on the ladder in that round.
  • Numbers highlighted in red indicates the team finished in last place on the ladder in that round
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
1   Brisbane Broncos 2 4 6 8 10 10 12 14 14 14 16 16 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 29 31 33 35 37
2   Newcastle Knights 2 4 6 8 10 10 12 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 24 26 27 29 31 31 31 33 35 37
3   Melbourne Storm 2 4 6 8 8 10 12 14 14 16 17 19 21 23 25 25 25 27 27 29 31 33 33 35
4   Parramatta Eels 2 4 4 6 8 8 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 24 24 26 28 28 30 32 34 35
5   North Sydney Bears 0 2 4 4 6 8 8 10 12 12 14 14 16 18 18 20 22 22 24 26 28 30 32 34
6   Sydney City Roosters 2 2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 16 16 18 20 20 22 24 24 26 26 26 28 30 32
7   Canberra Raiders 0 0 2 2 4 4 6 8 10 12 12 14 16 16 18 18 20 20 22 24 26 28 30 30
8   St George Dragons 2 2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 20 22 22 22 22 24 24 26 26 26 26 27
9   Canterbury Bulldogs 2 2 2 2 2 4 6 8 10 10 10 12 12 12 14 14 16 18 18 18 20 22 24 26
10   Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 0 2 2 2 2 4 6 6 6 6 8 8 8 8 10 12 14 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
11   Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0 2 2 2 4 4 6 8 10 10 12 14 14 14 16 18 18 18 19 21 23 23 23 25
12   Illawarra Steelers 0 2 2 2 2 4 6 6 8 8 9 11 13 13 15 17 19 19 19 19 21 21 23 23
13   Balmain Tigers 2 2 4 6 8 10 10 10 10 10 12 12 12 14 16 16 16 18 18 19 19 19 19 19
14   Penrith Panthers 0 2 2 4 4 4 4 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 9 11 12 14 14 14 16 18
15   Auckland Warriors 0 0 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 6 8 8 10 10 12 14 14 14 16 16 18 18 18 18
16   North Queensland Cowboys 2 4 6 8 8 10 10 10 10 10 10 12 14 14 14 14 16 16 18 18 18 18 18 18
17   Adelaide Rams 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 6 6 6 8 10 12 12 14 14 14 14 14
18   South Sydney Rabbitohs 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 6 6 6 6 8 8 10 10 10
19   Gold Coast Chargers 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 6 6 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
20   Western Suburbs Magpies 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8


Finals seriesEdit

The biggest surprise of the season was when the Melbourne Storm finished 3rd after the regular season in their first ever year, only to be knocked out by the Brisbane Broncos in the Semi Final. The Canterbury Bulldogs became the lowest placed team ever to make the Grand Final, after finishing 9th after the regular season. The Bulldogs did it tough though, coming from 16 points down twice in as many weeks. They came from 16-0 down to win 28-16 against the Newcastle Knights in the Semi Final, then 18-2 down with 11 minutes to go to make it 18-18 after regulation time, then going on to win 32-20 in extra time against the Parramatta Eels in the Preliminary Final.

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Qualifying Finals
  Canberra Raiders 17–4   Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28 August 1998 Bruce Stadium Bill Harrigan 15,953
  St. George Dragons 12–20   Canterbury Bulldogs 29 August 1998 Jubilee Oval Steve Clark 16,833
  Parramatta Eels 25–12   North Sydney Bears 29 August 1998 Parramatta Stadium Kelvin Jeffes 16,033
  Melbourne Storm 12–26   Sydney City Roosters 30 August 1998 Olympic Park Paul McBlane 18,247
Quarter Finals
  North Sydney Bears 2–23   Canterbury Bulldogs 4 September 1998 North Sydney Oval Bill Harrigan 18,718
  Melbourne Storm 24–10   Canberra Raiders 5 September 1998 Olympic Park Steve Clark 12,592
  Newcastle Knights 15–26   Sydney City Roosters 5 September 1998 Marathon Stadium Kelvin Jeffes 26,482
  Brisbane Broncos 10–15   Parramatta Eels 6 September 1998 ANZ Stadium Paul McBlane 21,172
Semi Finals
  Newcastle Knights 16–28   Canterbury Bulldogs 12 September 1998 Sydney Football Stadium* Steve Clark 24,449
  Brisbane Broncos 30–6   Melbourne Storm 13 September 1998 Sydney Football Stadium* Bill Harrigan 20,354
Preliminary Finals
  Sydney City Roosters 18–46   Brisbane Broncos 19 September 1998 ANZ Stadium Steve Clark 28,374
  Parramatta Eels 20–32   Canterbury Bulldogs 20 September 1998 Sydney Football Stadium Bill Harrigan 36,841
  • Due to an agreement held between the NRL and SFS that required a set number of finals games to be held at the SFS the Preliminary finals where both held at the SFS to meet the agreement despite neither "home" side being from Sydney.

Grand finalEdit

Post seasonEdit

Brisbane's consistent dominance over other teams at this period of time contributed to the National Rugby League's plans to cut the number of teams down to 14 in order to ensure competitiveness and the long-term financial success of the game.[6]

Despite the inclusion of "national" in the new competition's name, both the Gold Coast and Adelaide clubs folded at the end of the 1998 season. A new Gold Coast side re-entered the competition nine years later in 2007.

1998 was the last season for the seventy-eight-year-old St. George Dragons and seventeen-year-old Illawarra Steelers clubs, which merged to form the NRL's first joint-venture team at the conclusion of the season, the St George Illawarra Dragons, for inclusion in the 1999 Premiership.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Toby Miller; Geoffrey A. Lawrence; Jim McKay (2001). Globalization and sport: playing the world. SAGE. p. 82. ISBN 9780761959694.
  2. ^ Harms, John (2005). The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story. Australia: University of Queensland Press. p. 196. ISBN 9780702235368.
  3. ^ NRL 1998 - Grand Final at rugbyleagueproject.org
  4. ^ Brisbane 38 v Canterbury 12 - Grand Final, 1998 at stats.rleague.com
  5. ^ 1998 National Rugby League Grand Final at rleague.com
  6. ^ "Broncos, Dragons: two fallen powerhouses". The Roar. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2016.

External linksEdit