A model for the future of the NRL

For the last ten or 15 years I’ve had a little hobby. It started off just fiddling around on my computer with jersey designs, branched out to expansion team designs and then eventually turned into what I would like the NRL to look like in the future.

Of course how I would like to see the NRL work and what actually works are two different scenarios.

When you first look at the competition it’s silly not to initially think there are too many Sydney teams and not enough spread around the rest of the country. The easiest solution would seem to be to relocate several Sydney-based clubs, but we all know doing this would leave a vacuum for other sports, such as AFL, to move in.

That said, I have no problem with the AFL and in fact admire their crowds, so good luck to them. I’d actually like to see them with 20 teams, but Tasmania and the ACT should be the next two to join. However, I’m no expert on AFL, and in this current climate the best solution for any sport is to consolidate and get through the year COVID-free.

Brisbane Broncos fans.

(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The NRL’s recent talks about expanding into Brisbane is not a bad idea. It would give the Broncos another rival and Suncorp Stadium a game every week, so there are certainly positives. But I much prefer an expansion team to be in a new area that can grow the game, such as Perth, as so many of us expansionists keep banging on about.

But again, as I said, for now the important thing is to consolidate and concentrate on getting things back to normal – on getting kids back onto the field, getting the second tiers up and running and getting the crowds back.

Below you will see my diagram after these years what I have come up with on how I would like to see rugby league structured but in saying that it’s a rough idea on how I think things could work out in the future.

6:00pm SAT Port Moresby Hunters (2030+)
8:00pm FRI Nth QLD Cowboys Take 1 game to Cairns
8:00pm FRI Sunshine Coast Dolphins (2023+) Sunshine Stadium Take 4 games to Redcliffe Stadium
8:00pm SAT Brisbane Broncos Suncorp Stadium Take 1 game to Port Moresby
6:00pm SA Brisbane Jets (2023+) Suncorp Stadium
6:00pm SAT Gold Coast Titans Take 1 game to Toowoomba
8:00pm SAT Newcastle Knights Take 1 game to Tamworth
6:00pm SAT Central Coast Manly Sea Eagles (2021+) Gosford stadium Take 4 games to Brookvale
8:00pm SAT Penrith Panthers Penrith Stadium (Take 1 game to Bathurst) (Possible relocation) (2050+) (Rename Great Western Panthers)
8:00pm SAT Parramatta Eels Bank west Stadium
2:00pm SAT Western Sydney Tigers ANZ (Take 1 games to Leichhardt)+ (Take 3 games to Campbelltown)
2:00pm SAT Canterbury Bulldogs ANZ (Take 1 game to Belmore)+ (Take 1 game to Christchurch NZ) (Possible future relocation, Rename Canterbury Bulldogs 2035+)
4:00pm SAT Sydney Roosters Allianz Stadium Take 1 game to North Sydney Oval
4:00pm SAT South Sydney Rabbitohs Allianz Stadium (Take 1 game to Hobart) (Possible future Relocation to Hobart)(2050+)
6:00pm SAT Cronulla Sharks Shark Park (Take 1 game to Coffs Harbor) (Possible future relocation to Coffs Harbor 2050+ Rename Coffs Harbor Sharks) Or (Take 1 game to Suva, Fiji) (Possible future relocation to Fiji 2050+ Rename Suva Sharks)
6:00pm SAT Illawarra St George Dragons WIN Stadium (Take 4 games to Kogarah) (Build Eastern Grandstand, WIN Stadium
2:00pm SUN Canberra Raiders Take 1 game to Wagga Wagga
2:00pm SUN Melbourne Storm Take 1 game to Victoria Country
6:00pm SA Adelaide Bulls (2023+)
6:00pm SUN Perth Redbacks (2023+)
6:00pm FRI Auckland Warriors Take 1 game in NZ Country
6:00pm FRI Wellington Wolves (2023+)
Nth Queensland Cowgirls
Brisbane Broncos
Newcastle Knights
Sydney Sea Hawks Redfern Oval Easts, Souths, Cronulla, Manly, North Sydney
Western Sydney Wild Cats Penrith Stadium Penrith, Parramatta, Canterbury, West Tigers
Illawarra St George Dragons WIN Stadium
Canberra Raiders
Auckland Warriors
NSW Cup (Tier 2)
North Coast Dolphins Coffs Harbor
New England Razorbacks Tamworth
Newcastle Knights (2) Mc Donald Jones Stadium Pre NRL-Game
Central Coast Centurions Gosford Stadium Central Coast Manly Sea Eagles reserves
Manly Sea Eagles Brookvale Oval Central Coast Manly Sea Eagles reserves
North Sydney Bears North Sydney Oval Sydney Rooster reserve
South Sydney(2) Redfern Oval
Newtown Jets Henson Park Cronulla Sharks Reserve
Balmain Tigers (Leichardt Oval) Western Sydney Tigers reserve
Western Suburbs Magpies (Campbelltown Stadium) Western Sydney Tigers reserve
Parramatta Eels (2) (Bank West Stadium) Pre NRL-Game
Canterbury Bulldogs (2) (Belmore Sports Ground)
Penrith Panthers (2) (Penrith Stadium) Pre NRL-Game
St George Dragons (OKI Jubilee) Illawarra St George Dragons reserve
Illawarra Steelers (WIN Stadium) Illawarra St George Dragons reserve
Western NSW Rams (Bathurst)
Canberra Raiders(2) (Canberra Stadium) Pre NRL-Game
Riverina Bulls (Wagga Wagga)
Victoria Thunder
Tasmania Devils
QLD Cup (Tier 2)
Port Moresby Hunters
Darwin Destroyers
Cairns Pride
Townsville Blackhawks
Mackay Cutters
Rockhampton Capra’s
Gladstone Gladiators
Bundaberg Polar Bears
Sunshine Coast Falcons
Redcliffe Dolphins
Norths Devils
Eastern Suburbs Tigers
Wynnum Manly Sea Eagles
Souths Logan Magpies
Ipswich Jets
Toowoomba Mustang
Burleigh Bears
Tweed Heads Seagulls
Adelaide Rams
West Coast Pirates
NZRL Cup (Tier 2)
Kaiviti Silktails Fiji
Pacifique Treize New Caledonia – Vanuatu – French Polynesia
Nuku’alofa Tonga
Apia Samoa
Akarana Falcons Auckland NZ Pre NRL-Game
Counties – Manukau Stingrays South Auckland NZ Pre NRL-Game
Bay of Plenty Lakers Rotorua NZ
Taranaki New Plymouth NZ
Waikato Stallions Hamilton NZ
Wellington Orcas Wellington NZ Pre NRL-Game 2023+
Canterbury Bulldogs Christchurch NZ
Otago Whalers Dunedin NZ
Sydney Metro Cup (Tier 3)
Belrose Eagles
Asquith Magpies
Windsor Wolves
St Mary’s Saints
Blacktown Workers
Guildford Owls
Mt Pritchard Mounties
Cabramatta Two Blues
Wentworthville Magpies
Moorebank Rams
Bondi United
Annandale Dales
Glebe Dirty Reds
Ryde – Eastwood Eagles
Concord – Burwood Wolves
Liverpool Raiders
Alexander Rovers
Coogee Dolphins
Renown United
Sutherland Pirates
Brisbane Metro Cup (Tier 3)
Fortitude Valley Diehards
West Brisbane Panthers
Carina Tigers
Beenleigh Pride
Brighton Roosters
Bulimba Bulldogs
Pine Rivers Bears
Normanby Hounds
Ipswich Brothers
Redlands Parrots
Past Brothers
Other Tier 3 comps
North Coast RL NTH QLD Northern NZ WA RL Fiji RL
New England RL Central QLD Central NZ SA RL Samoa RL
Western NSW RL Toowoomba RL Southern NZ VIC RL Tonga RL
Riverina RL Gold Coast TAS RL Pacifique RL
ACT/ Southern NSW NT RL Hawaii RL
South Coast/Illawarra
Newcastle/Central Coast
NRL Season
NRL Pre Season
Week 1 Indigenous All Stars (30/1/21)
Week 2 Club 9’s
Week 3 Trials (Country Grounds)
Week 4 Trials (Country Grounds)
Week 5 NRL Season Launch 2021
(Round 01) RIVAL ROUND (Sydney MARDI GRAS) (Home Team Rainbow socks)
(Round 02) RIVAL ROUND
(Round 04)
(Round 05) EASTER ROUND (MAGIC ROUND) (ANZ Stadium) (Marvel Jersey’s)
(Round 06)
(Round 07) INDIGENOUS ROUND (Indigenous Jerseys) WNRL (Round 01)
(Round 08) ANZAC ROUND (ANZAC Jersey’s) WNRL (Round 02)
(Round 09) WNRL (Round 03)
(Round 10) WOMEN OF LEAGUE ROUND + MOTHERS DAY (Home Team Pink Jersey’s) WNRL (Round 04)
(Round 11) + (State of Origin selections) WNRL (Round 05)
Rep Week 1
Sat Tonga v PNG
Sat Fiji v Samoa
Sat Ireland v Wales
Sat Scotland v France
Sat Lebanon v Greece
Sat Italy v Spain
Sat USA v Latin Heat (Ottawa – Canada)
Sat Canada v Jamaica (Ottawa – Canada)
Fri NSW v QLD (WNRL) (Bank West Stadium)
Sat Fiji v Tonga
Sat Samoa v PNG
Sat France v Wales
Sat Ireland v Scotland
Sat Spain v Greece
Sat Italy v Lebanon
Sat Canada v Latin Heat (NZ v ENG PRE GAME) (Philadelphia – USA)
Sat USA v Jamaica (NZ v ENG PRE GAME) (Philadelphia – USA)
Sat New Zealand v England (Philadelphia – USA)
Sun NSW Cup v QLD Cup
Sun NSW v QLD u20’s
Sun NSW v QLD Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne
Rep Week 3
Fri QLD v NSW (WNRL) Gold Coast Stadium
Sat Tonga v Samoa
Sat PNG v Fiji
Sat Scotland v Wales
Sat France v Ireland
Sat Greece v Italy
Sat Spain v Lebanon
Sat Jamaica v Latin Heat (Pre game NZ v ENG) (Toronto – Canada)
Sat Canada v USA (Pre game NZ v ENG) (Toronto – Canada)
Sat New Zealand v England (Toronto – Canada
Sun QLD Cup v NSW Cup
Sun QLD v NSW u20’s
Sun QLD v NSW Suncorp, Brisbane
Rep Week 4
Fri NSW v QLD (WNRL) Bank West Stadium
Sat Top 2 Pacific Cup Finals
Sat Top 2 Mediterranean Cup Finals
Sat Top 2 Nth American Cup Finals New York, USA
Sat New Zealand v England New York, USA
Sun NSW v QLD u20’s
Sun NSW v QLD ANZ, Sydney
(Round 12) (BYE) WNRL (Bye)
(Round 13) (MAGIC ROUND) (Brisbane) ) WNRL (Round 06)
(Round 14) WNRL (Round 07)
(Round 15) WNRL (Round 08)
(Round 16) COUNTRY ROUND WNRL (Round 09)
(Round 17) RIVAL ROUND WNRL (Round 10)
(Round 18) RIVAL ROUND WNRL (Bye)
(Round 19) RIVAL ROUND WNRL (Round 11)
(Round 20) HERITAGE ROUND WNRL (Round 12)
(Round 21) WNRL (Round 13)
(Round 22) MEN OF LEAGUE ROUND WNRL (Round 14)
Week 1 Finals WNRL(Bye)
Week 2 Finals WNRL Finals (G1) 1 v 2 – (G2) 3 v 4
Week 3 Finals WNRL Finals (G3) G1 L v G2 W
Week 4
SAT AFL Grand Final
SUN NSWRL Grand Final + Ron Massey + Jersey Flegg + SG Ball Bank West Stadium
SUN QLDRL Grand Final + Brisbane Cup + QLD U20’s + QLDU18’s Suncorp Stadium
SUN NZRL Grand Final + Mt Smart Stadium
Week 5
FRI WNRL Grand Final +
SUN SL Grand Final
SUN NRL Grand Final + (NSWRL v QLDRL Winners) + (NSWRL Jersey Flegg v QLDRL U20’s)
(Post Season)
2021 2022
Week 6 Week 6
Week 7 World Club Challenge (England) Week 7 World Club Challenge (New York, USA)
Week 8 WORLD CUP 2021 ENGLAND 16 Teams Week 8 European Winner v Pacific Winner
Week 8 WORLD CUP 2025 USA Week 9 (New Zealand v England) loser v Winner (European v Pacific)
Week 10 (New Zealand v England) winner v Australia
Week 11 World 9’s
Week 12 World 9’s Finals
Sydney Time slots Broadcaster Clubs International Time
8:00pm WED WNRL Fox/9
6:00pm THURS Highschool Fox
8:00pm THURS NRL Fox/9
4:00pm FRI NZRL Fox/9/NZTV
6:00pm FRI NRL Fox Auckland, Wellington
8:00pm FRI NRL Fox/9 Gold Coast, Nth QLD
10:00am SAT NZRL Fox/9/NZTV
12:00pm SAT NSWRL/QLDRL Fox/9
2:00pm SAT NRL Fox Wests, Canterbury 9:00pm FRI LA, USA – 12:00am SAT NY, USA
4:00pm SAT NRL Fox Sydney, Souths 8:00pm Fri Hawaii – 11:00pm FRI LA, USA
6:00pm SAT NRL Fox
8:00pm SAT NRL Fox/9
10:00pm SAT
10:00am SUN NZRL Fox/9/NZTV
12:00pm SUN NSWRL/QLDRL Fox/9
2:00pm SUN NRL Fox Canberra, Melbourne 9:00pm SAT LA, USA – 12:00am SUN NY, USA
4:00pm SUN NRL Fox/9 8:00pm SAT Hawaii – 11:00pm SAT LA, US
6:00pm SUN NRL Fox Perth (4:00pm Sun)

My model for the future of the NRL is rough but pretty straightforward. A lot doesn’t need explaining, but if you need explaining, I’m happy to answer.

There are two main subjects I would like to bring up. The first is about jerseys. I’ve noticed some teams, like Newcastle and Parramatta, are going back to their retro stripes, which I’m really enjoying. However, teams like the Tigers could do with more orange and less black, and the Titans could have more sky blue – I designed a Titans jersey, substituting blue for green, and it doesn’t look too bad if you can picture it.

The main thing I want to stress about the jerseys is the changing every year bugs me. I think you’d find a correlation between the crappy designs over the years and the NRL itself, particularly when it comes to club loyalty.

The second topic I want to emphasise is regarding Sydney stadiums. This has been a huge discussion lately, but my model is probably the cheapest way forward.

I had hopes a while ago for a Liverpool stadium for the Bulldogs and Tigers to share, but if Souths moved to Allianz Stadium and the Bulldogs and Tigers to Liverpool – or if the Tigers played in Campbelltown and the Bulldogs in Bankwest Stadium – it would leaves about three or four games a year to ANZ, which is a waste of a big stadium.

The key to filling the stadiums is to have teams play at the same time every time they play at home based on what hour they have drawn their largest crowds. The only exceptions should be for one Thursday night home game a year and when playing any New Zealand team.

Updating these suburban grounds like Brookvale or Kogarah is a waste of money – these places should be used once or twice a year by the NRL and left for the lower tiers for the rest of the season. The only place I would consider upgrading is WIN Stadium, for which I would build an eastern grandstand to make it a fully seated rectangular stadium.

I could go on all day, but whatever the NRL decide to do, I hope it’s for the best and grows the game.

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