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The 2002 NRL season was the 95th season of professional rugby league football in Australia and the fifth to be run by the National Rugby League. The season was affected by the competition-leading Bulldogs' salary cap breach finding, which saw them relegated to the bottom of the NRL ladder. As a result, the New Zealand Warriors won their first minor premiership and made it to the grand final for the first time, playing against foundation club the Sydney Roosters who won the match and collected their first premiership in 27 years.

2002 National Rugby League
Teams15
PremiersEastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney (12th title)
Minor premiersNew Zealand colours.svg New Zealand (1st title)
Matches played189
Points scored9083
Attendance2656198
Top points scorer(s)Canterbury colours.svg Hazem El Masri (254)
Player of the yearNewcastle colours.svg Andrew Johns (Dally M Medal)
Top try-scorer(s)Canterbury colours.svg Nigel Vagana (23)
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Contents

Pre-seasonEdit

In February, 2002, the National Rugby League's Director of Legal and Business Affairs, David Gallop, was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the NRL, succeeding David Moffett.

The legendary Broncos and Maroons halfback, Allan Langer, returned from England to play his final season of professional football with the Brisbane club. In doing so he became the NRL's oldest player for the 2002 season at 36 years and 60 days.[1]

The return of South SydneyEdit

Following the club's departure from the NRL after the 1999 season, there was a continuing push from both fans and the wider rugby league community to reinstate the South Sydney Rabbitohs into the NRL competition. After two unsuccessful years of lobbying, South Sydney finally received a court ruling in their favour in 2001. On 15 March 2002, the Rabbitohs opened the NRL season with a home match against long-time rivals, the Sydney Roosters, losing badly, 40-6.

It turned out to be a tough year for the Rabbitohs, winning only 5 matches from 24 played.

TeamsEdit

The number of teams contesting the Premiership increased for the 2002 season from 14 to 15 due to the re-inclusion of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. It was the first time the number of Premiership teams had increased since the 1995 ARL season when the introduction of the Auckland Warriors, North Queensland Cowboys, South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds saw the number of teams increase from 16 to 20.

Brisbane Broncos
15th season
Ground: Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre
Coach: Wayne Bennett
Captain: Gorden Tallis
Bulldogs RLFC
68th season
Ground: Sydney Showground
Coach: Steve Folkes
Captain: Steve Price
Canberra Raiders
21st season
Ground: Canberra Stadium
Coach: Matthew Elliott
Captain: Simon Woolford
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
38th season
Ground: Shark Park
Coach: Chris Anderson
Captain: David Peachey
Melbourne Storm
5th season
Ground Olympic Park Stadium
Coach: Mark Murray
Captain: Robbie Kearns
Newcastle Knights
15th season
Ground: Newcastle International Sports Centre
Coach: Michael Hagan
Captain: Andrew Johns
New Zealand Warriors
8th season
Ground: Mt Smart Stadium
Coach: Daniel Anderson
Captain: Stacey Jones & Monty Betham
North Queensland Cowboys
8th season
Ground: Willows Sports Complex
Coach: Murray HurstGraham Murray
Captain: Paul Bowman
Northern Eagles
3rd season
Ground: Brookvale Oval & Central Coast Stadium
Coach: Peter Sharp
Captain: Steve Menzies
Parramatta Eels
56th season
Ground: Parramatta Stadium
Coach: Brian Smith
Captain: Nathan Cayless
Penrith Panthers
36th season
Ground: Penrith Stadium
Coach: John Lang
Captain: Craig Gower
South Sydney Rabbitohs
93rd season
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Coach: Craig Coleman
Captain: Adam Muir
Sydney Roosters
95th season
Ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Coach: Ricky Stuart
Captain: Brad Fittler
St. George Illawarra Dragons
4th season
Ground: Kogarah Oval & WIN Stadium
Coach: Andrew Farrar
Captain: Trent Barrett
Wests Tigers
3rd season
Ground: Campbelltown Stadium & Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Terry Lamb
Captain: Darren Senter

Regular seasonEdit

In 2002, as in 2001, the NRL's advertising was handled by Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney. As in the previous season, there was no big budget season launch advertising campaign. The NRL focussed on stretching its marketing spending throughout the season with newspaper ads promoting individual rounds and clubs, and with simple TV ads to promote key games.

The Bulldogs won 17 games in a row and had an unbeaten run of 18 games, the most in the club's history. However they were deducted 37 premiership points for a gross salary cap breaches, the most points deducted in premiership history. That left the club with just four competition points attained from the two byes earlier in the season. Four more competition points followed since the salary cap scandal, all from wins in the last two rounds of the season.

The New Zealand Warriors won the club's first Minor Premiership in its 8-year history and also made it to their first Grand Final. The Warriors were not in first place almost during the entire season, only taking top spot on the ladder at the conclusion of Round 26.

John Hopoate ran 3,976 metres with the ball in 2002, more than any other player in the competition.[2]

At the end of the season NRL referees' coach Peter Louis resigned from his position.[3]

Bulldogs salary cap breachEdit

In mid-2002, the Bulldogs were found guilty of serious and systemic breaches of the salary cap. NRL Chief Executive David Gallop described the violation as "exceptional in both its size and its deliberate and ongoing nature". The club received a $500,000 fine, and was stripped of 37 of its 41 competition points accumulated up to Round 23.[4] The latter action was particularly harmful, as the club were poised to take the Minor Premiership and had won 17 consecutive matches (the second highest in Australian club rugby league history at the time). The deduction of the 37 competition points meant that the Bulldogs would win the wooden spoon, as the South Sydney Rabbitohs had already accumulated 12 competition points by the end of Round 24.

The deduction of the Bulldogs' points also enabled the Canberra Raiders to make the finals with a points differential of -170, the poorest such record of any finalist in the competition's history, and the Raiders only won one game outside of Canberra for the entire season. It also enabled the New Zealand Warriors to secure their first minor premiership in the club's history.

LadderEdit

The Warriors received A$100,000 prize money for finishing the regular season as minor premiers.[5]

Team Pld W D L B PF PA PD Pts
1   New Zealand Warriors 24 17 0 7 2 688 454 +234 38
2   Newcastle Knights 24 17 0 7 2 724 498 +226 38
3   Brisbane Broncos 24 16 1 7 2 672 425 +247 37
4   Sydney Roosters (P) 24 15 1 8 2 621 405 +216 35
5   Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 24 15 0 9 2 653 597 +56 34
6   Parramatta Eels 24 10 2 12 2 531 440 +91 26
7   St George Illawarra Dragons 24 9 3 12 2 632 546 +86 25
8   Canberra Raiders 24 10 1 13 2 471 641 -170 25
9   Northern Eagles 24 10 0 14 2 503 740 -237 24
10   Melbourne Storm 24 9 1 14 2 556 586 -30 23
11   North Queensland Cowboys 24 8 0 16 2 496 803 -307 20
12   Penrith Panthers 24 7 0 17 2 546 654 -108 18
13   Wests Tigers 24 7 0 17 2 498 642 -144 18
14   South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 5 0 19 2 385 817 -432 14
15   Bulldogs 24 20 1 3 2 707 435 +272 81

1The Bulldogs were deducted 37 premiership points due to gross salary cap breaches.

Ladder progressionEdit

  • Numbers highlighted in green indicate that the team finished the round inside the top 8.
  • 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
  • Underlined numbers indicate that the team had a bye during 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 25 26
1   New Zealand 2 4 4 6 8 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 24 26 26 28 30 30 32 34 36 36 36 38
2   Newcastle 2 4 6 8 10 12 12 14 16 16 18 20 22 24 24 26 28 28 30 30 32 32 34 36 38 38
3   Brisbane 2 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 19 21 21 23 25 25 27 29 31 33 35 35 35 35 37 37
4   Sydney Roosters 2 2 2 2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 14 16 18 19 21 23 23 23 25 25 27 29 31 33 35
5   Cronulla-Sutherland 2 4 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 34
6   Parramatta 2 2 4 4 5 7 9 11 13 15 15 17 19 19 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 22 22 24 26 26
7   St. George Illawarra 0 2 2 4 5 5 5 5 6 8 10 10 10 11 13 15 15 15 17 19 19 19 21 23 23 25
8   Canberra 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 4 5 5 7 9 11 11 11 13 13 15 15 17 19 21 21 23 23 25
9   Northern Eagles 0 2 2 4 4 6 6 8 8 10 10 10 12 12 14 16 16 18 18 18 20 22 22 22 24 24
10   Melbourne 2 2 4 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 10 10 11 13 13 15 17 19 19 19 21 23 23 23 23
11   North Queensland 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 4 6 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 10 10 12 14 14 14 16 16 18 20
12   Penrith 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 4 6 8 8 10 10 10 10 10 10 12 12 14 14 16 16 18
13   Wests Tigers 2 4 4 6 6 8 10 10 10 10 12 12 12 12 14 14 14 14 14 14 16 16 16 18 18 18
14   South Sydney 0 2 4 4 4 4 6 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 10 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 14
15   Bulldogs 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 39 41 4 6 8


Finals seriesEdit

To decide the grand finalists from the top eight finishing teams, the NRL adopts the McIntyre Final Eight System.

Coincidentally, the finalists for 2002 were almost the same as the previous season, with the exception of the Bulldogs being replaced by Canberra. Had the Bulldogs not been deducted competition points, they would have become the minor premiers and completed the replication, with Canberra moving down to 9th.

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Qualifying Finals
  Sydney Roosters 32 – 20   Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 13 September 2002 Aussie Stadium Paul Simpkins 25,366
  Brisbane Broncos 24 – 14   Parramatta Eels 14 September 2002 ANZ Stadium Sean Hampstead 19,115
  Newcastle Knights 22 – 26   St George Illawarra Dragons 14 September 2002 Energy Australia Stadium Bill Harrigan 21,051
  New Zealand Warriors 36 – 20   Canberra Raiders 15 September 2002 Ericsson Stadium Tim Mander 25,800
Semi Finals
  St George Illawarra Dragons 24 – 40   Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 21 September 2002 Aussie Stadium Bill Harrigan 31,783
  Sydney Roosters 38 – 12   Newcastle Knights 22 September 2002 Aussie Stadium Sean Hampstead 23,816
Preliminary Finals
  Brisbane Broncos 12 – 16   Sydney Roosters 28 September 2002 Aussie Stadium Bill Harrigan 28,251
  New Zealand Warriors 16 – 10   Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 29 September 2002 Telstra Stadium Tim Mander 45,782

ChartEdit

  Qualifying Finals Semi Finals Preliminary Finals Grand Final
                                     
1   New Zealand 36
8   Canberra 20
  1W   New Zealand 16  
2   Newcastle 22   4W   St. George Illawarra 24       Cronulla 10    
7   St. George Illawarra 26   2L   Cronulla 40           New Zealand 8
        Sydney 30
3   Brisbane 24         2W   Brisbane 12    
6   Parramatta 14   3W   Sydney 38       Sydney 16  
  1L   Newcastle 12  
4   Sydney 32
5   Cronulla 20

Grand finalEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Toohey, Barry (2 February 2011). "Still some bite in old Mad Dog". The Daily Telegraph. Australia: News Limited. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  2. ^ Proszenko, Adrian (6 May 2012). "Gallen set to smash record". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  3. ^ Steve Mascord and Brad Walter (6 September 2002). "Search for new refs chief to replace Louis". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  4. ^ Tunnah, Helen (2002-08-24). "Rugby League: 37 nails in Bulldogs' kennel". The New Zealand Herald. APN Holdings NZ Limited. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  5. ^ NZPA (2002-10-05). "Sorry guys, the cheque's not in the mail". nzherald.co.nz. APN Holdings NZ Limited. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  6. ^ D'Souza, Miguel. "Grand Final History". wwos.ninemsn.com.au. AAP. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2013.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit