The National Rugby League of Australasia and the Telstra Premiership
In the world of Rugby league football, the two most prominent fully professional leagues are the Australasian National Rugby League and the European Super League.
The Australasian National Rugby League, commonly known simply as the National Rugby League, is the top league for professional rugby league football in Australasia. It’s main competition is sponsored by the Telstra Corporation and is therefore known as the Telstra Permiership. Sixteen teams participate in the contest – fifteen from Australia and one from New Zealand.
The roots of the Australasian National Rugby League can be traced back to Sydney’s club competition which eventually developed into a top-level domestic club competition for the entire nation and then, in the late 20th century, became the National Rugby League (NRL).
National Rugby League matches are played from fall to spring in Australia and New Zealand. Rugby league is a winter sport, which means that premiership season normally starts in early March and continues to the end of the September. Matches are played every weekend, usually two matches on Friday night, three on Saturday night, two on Sunday afternoon and one on Monday night. Some weeks are given special themes, such as Rivalry Round, Heritage Round and Women in League Round.
When a team wins a match it is awarded two points, while a draw gives each team one point. The team with the most points at the end of the regular season is declared minor premiers. The eight teams with the most points at the end of the regular season proceed to the finals series. The final series utilize the McIntyre Final Eight System and consists of a number of knockout and sudden-death games played over four weeks in August and September. When the field has been narrowed down to just two teams, these two teams play against each other in the Grand Final.
Normally, the Grand Final is played on the first Sunday of October with the Prime Minister of Australia attending the trophy-presenting ceremony. The Grand Final is preceded by an festive opening ceremony featuring well-known domestic and international musicians. In the week before the match, the two teams have breakfast together accompanied by hundreds of guests.
The Telstra Premiership is widely acknowledged as the world’s elite rugby league contest and it is the single most viewed and attended rugby football series of them all. Unsurprisingly, a lot of bookmakers offer odds for the Telstra Premiership – especially for the Grand Final which is one of Australia’s major sporting events. It is also a very popular event to bet on in other coutries where rugby is a major sport.
The Grand Final does not only attract a lot of spectators to the arena in Sidney; it achieves very high television ratings as well. The Telstra Premiership Grand Final are nowadays played at the Stadium Australia (the primary arena for the 2000 Olympic Games) in Sidney. It one of the most attended club championship events in the world.