Which NRL teams are the most popular according to club members?

For this First Assignment for BCM210, I have decided to look into NRL memberships, and find out which of the 16 NRL Clubs is the most popular over the last few years, and how it shapes up now.

The 2 foundation clubs the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters are the only teams that have been there since 1908, and you would have to think that one of these clubs would have to be the most popular.

Current defending premiers, the North Queensland Cowboys have gained 584 new members for 2016, following their 17-16 Grand Final victory over the Brisbane Broncos last year and currently sit in 6th.

Here are the rankings from 1 to 16, in order of their members, as of the 24th March 2016.

Each team has also had new members join in the off-season. Each team’s new members additions since last year:

  1. Brisbane Broncos 3,461
  2. South Sydney Rabbitohs 1,711
  3. Sydney Roosters 1,381
  4. St George Illawarra Dragons 874
  5. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 771
  6. Parramatta Eels 718
  7. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 716
  8. Wests Tigers 707
  9. New Zealand Warriors 666
  10. Melbourne Storm 641
  11. Cronulla Sharks 548
  12. Penrith Panthers 449
  13. Canberra Raiders 398
  14. Gold Coast Titans 341
  15. Newcastle Knights 246
  16. North Queensland Cowboys 184


brisbane broncos.
The Brisbane Broncos celebrating a try during a game last year. The 2015 runners up, currently have the most members of any club in the NRL with 33,814.

The video below is of the Brisbane Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys in last year’s grand final. It was the first ever Queensland Grand Final. And boy don’t Queenslanders love their rugby league. The Cowboys won 17-16 in golden point. It was probably one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time. If you don’t believe me, just watch below and see for yourself.

  • Brisbane Broncos 33,814
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs 31,185
  • Parramatta Eels 19,843
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18,309
  • St George Illawarra Dragons 16,344
  • North Queensland Cowboys 16,198
  • New Zealand Warriors 16,070
  • Penrith Panthers 14,988
  • Melbourne Storm 14,701
  • Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12,462
  • Sydney Roosters 12,000
  • Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 11,477
  • Newcastle Knights 11,428
  • Canberra Raiders 11,270
  • Wests Tigers 10,847
  • Gold Coast Titans 7,813
    The South Sydney Rabbitohs celebrating their 2014 Premiership win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. They are still today one of the most supported teams in the NRL, and some people know their supporter group as ‘The Burrow’. This year, the Rabbitohs recorded their highest amount of members in the club’s history, with 27,543 members.

    The video below is an advertisement for the 2016 NRL Season.

    Each year there are different campaigns from the NRL to get some more members and support their favourite clubs/teams and the video above is a great example of a membership drive campaign by the NRL.     Home Crowd Averages also tell us of how popular each team is.These averages are only this year, it may changes as the year goes on because some teams have only had the one home game so far. The Brisbane Broncos again come out on top in this category/department with an average of 35,230. Their home ground is Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, with 52,500 capacity, only second to Sydney’s ANZ Stadium which has 83,500 capacity.

    Some of the teams are suffering, with the Gold Coast Titans having the worst, with 9,144 on average seeing them in action at Cbus Super Stadium.

    Home Crowd Averages 1-16 (as of 21st March 2016), and home ground.

  • Brisbane Broncos 35,230 (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.)
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 30,018 (ANZ Stadium  & Belmore Sportsground)
  • Sydney Roosters 25,125 (Allianz Stadium, Sydney)
  • Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 17,946 (Southern Cross Group Stadium, Woolooware)
  • St George Illawarra Dragons 17,824 (WIN Stadium, Wollongong, Jubilee Oval, Kogarah, Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium & ANZ Stadium)
  • New Zealand Warriors 16,214 (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)
  • Parramatta Eels 14,759 (Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta & ANZ Stadium)
  • Newcastle Knights 13,745 (Hunter Stadium, Newcastle)
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs 13,364 (ANZ Stadium)
  • Melbourne Storm 12,393 (AAMI Park, Melbourne)
  • Canberra Raiders 11,860 (GIO Stadium, Canberra)
  • North Queensland Cowboys 11,809 (1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville)
  • Penrith Panthers 11,606 (Pepper Stadium, Penrith)
  • Wests Tigers 11,093 (Campbelltown Stadium, Leichhardt Oval, Lilyfield & ANZ Stadium)
  • Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 10,817 (Brookvale Oval)
  • Gold Coast Titans 9,144 (Cbus Super Stadium, Robina)

These attendances also have some impact on how far people have to travel to watch their favourite team in action. These numbers contribute in how well each team is supported as well, how well the team is going in a particular year,

as well as the number of class players that are in each team, and sometimes even the coaches, e.g supercoach Wayne Bennett is the coach of the Brisbane Broncos.

Lately for some of the Sydney Teams (Sharks, Tigers, Dragons, Sea Eagles, Eels, Bulldogs, Panthers, Roosters, Rabbitohs) have been in talks with the NRL and the NSW Government to take their home games to bigger venues like the Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium and ANZ Stadium.

A lot of people don’t like travelling, and in the long run it will affect home crowds for these teams mentioned above. For example, in recent years, the St George Illawarra Dragons, who are based in Wollongong and Kogarah, have been taking their home games to ANZ Stadium, which sees Jubilee Oval and WIN Stadium lose games there.

Kiama MP, Keira MP, and Dragons co-captain, Ben Creagh are all against the moving of games from WIN Stadium.

Creagh says “It will be silly to take rugby league matches, NRL first grade matches away from Wollongong, when you’ve a joint venture of St George Illawarra.

“There is a very passionate supporter base we have down here, not just in Wollongong but all the way down the South Coast. I see them every week, not only at games but traveling as far down as Batemans Bay just to watch training.”

Doing things like this will have a huge impact and influence on any supporters, especially for Dragons supporters, an hour and a half trip to ANZ Stadium, where the games have been transferred to.

If they do actually do this, it means the Dragons home grounds at Kogarah and Wollongong, will each only get 2 games a year. The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are in the same boat, and since they are based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, it is a bit of travel into the city, and many of the Sea Eagles members and fans don’t like to travel for their home games.

A few years back, they made the move for Sydney clubs to play finals matches at the bigger grounds, (Allianz Stadium and ANZ Stadium), and not at your home ground. I mean yes I can see what they are trying to do here, but wouldn’t you rather have a full suburban ground then an empty bigger stadium?

Being a Red V Member myself (Dragons member), it is a great way to show support for your team, because you get exclusive member benefits, game day events, and meet up with the team.

I also put a question to some Wollongong University students about who their favourite NRL team is, and how they like to watch their rugby league, and other sports. I asked this question on the UOW Students Buy and Sell Page, as well as the UOW Communcations and Media 2015 Page. I’d like to thank my  Tutor, Stephanie, for suggesting this to me.

The Dragons had the most votes with 5, the Roosters and the Tigers on 4, the Eels, Sharks and Rabbitohs on 3, Broncos, Bulldogs and Cowboys on 2, 1 vote for the Panthers, Knights, Sea Eagles and  Raiders, and no one voted for the Titans, Storm or Warriors.

dragons army
The St George Illawarra Dragons, have one of the best and most passionate supporter bases in the NRL.

For how they like to view the game/match we had many different responses as well. 31 people watch it on Television, 2 people use an App, 11 people like to see it live at the venue/stadium, 5 people view it online, and 2 people listen to the coverage on the radio, either ABC Grandstand, Triple M Sydney/Brisbane or 2GB (The Continuous Call Team).

I’d like to thank everyone that answered the questions, especially fellow BCM210 students, Edward, Eliza, Tom, Lauren, Sophie, Cassie,Emma, Jack and Matt.







    1. Thanks Polina, Yeah I will take that on board, and yes the 2 guys you see in the pic, are 2 of the most popular players in the game, so yeah that has a lot to do with it. Thanks again


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