NRL Popularity-Analysis & Summary




I would first of all like to acknowledge my father, who I interviewed for the “Oral History” part of the assignment, which gave me a great starting platform.  I would also like to thank, one of my classmates from my tutorial who gave me a very helpful link to a NRL fan survey from last year to supply me with some findings. For the 42 people that completed my survey, on Survey Monkey I would like to thank you too, because without all your answers, I don’t know what I would have done. Finally I would like to thank the BCM210 lecturer, as well as my tutor for all their help. I couldn’t have completed this assignment without their help and assistance.

cronulla sharks...
Cronulla Sharks players celebrate a try during their 62-0 win over the Newcastle Knights earlier in the year. The Sharks, along with the Roosters, had the equal most votes in the team survey.










My main question for this whole research assignment is “What impacts people to support their favourite NRL team/club?”

I had 42 responses overall, which was more than enough for what results I was after/looking for.

sydney roosters...
Sydney Roosters players, Jackson Hastings & Eloni Vunakece. The Sydney Roosters, along with the Cronulla Sharks had the share of the top votes in the team survey of mine.

I asked 6 different questions, in relation to this, and the first question I asked was:

What is your favourite NRL Team? (I made sure that people only chose one team/club)

Of the 16 NRL teams/clubs, the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Roosters were tied with the most votes, followed shortly behind by local team, the St George Illawarra Dragons. Six teams had no votes, the Gold Coast Titans, Melbourne Storm, New Zealand Warriors, Newcastle Knights, North Queensland Cowboys and the Penrith Panthers.

More of the results that have been analysed:

  • 78% of people are not NRL Club Members
  • Just 21% of people attend their team’s home games
  • 83% of people don’t go to their team’s away games
  • 73% of people own their favourite team’s merchandise/supporter gear
  • 38% of people follow a team because of their families influence

There were many mixed responses that people had for the various reasons that they support a particular or their favourite team in the National Rugby League.

Survey Monkey
The results of one of my questions from my survey


Some of the top answers include:

  • “They have hot players”
  • “I like them because Jesse likes them” (Hugh)
  • “Won the premiership the year I started watching”
  • “I’ve supported them since I was 5, because I loved Darren Lockyer”
  • “ I’ve followed the team since I was young”


Which proves that some supporters support a favourite team, e.g Darren Lockyer played for the Brisbane Broncos, and this particular person has supported them since he/she was 5.

Darren Lockyer Wayne Bennett.jpg
Supercoach, Wayne Bennett and former Brisbane Broncos legend Darren Lockyer, after the Broncos won the 2006 NRL Premiership over the Melbourne Storm. Darren Lockyer was mentioned quite a bit, in contributing to fans supporting their favourite team. Lockyer played 36 Origins for Queensland, 355 NRL Games for the Brisbane Broncos, & 59 Tests for Australia over a 17 year career (1995-2011). He was also captain for the Broncos, Queensland & Australia.

One of the findings I did get was from the interview I did with my Dad, regarding where his support for the Illawarra Steelers started, and when the Steelers merged with the St George Dragons, which they then became, the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Dad said that he supported the Steelers because they were the local team representing area of Wollongong/Illawarra, and he attended all the Illawarra Steelers home games at the old Wollongong Showground (now known as WIN Stadium) since the establishment of the Steelers in 1982.

1987 Illawarra Steelers.jpg
The 1987 Illawarra Steelers team at the Port Kembla Steelworks. My Dad use to watch them all the time at the old Wollongong Showground before they merged with St George.

He was a proud supporter of the Illawarra Steelers, and still is today, but when the Steelers merged with the St George Dragons at the end of 1998, he wasn’t too thrilled with that decision of the merger, and I believe that he wasn’t alone in that regard, but really he had no say in that decision by both clubs, and he decided to support the newly merged team, the St George Illawarra Dragons anyway.

Dad has been going to games in Wollongong since then, and when I was little, dad started taking me to games, and by then the St George Illawarra Dragons were already established (They were established in 1999).

St George Illawarra went on to make the Grand Final in their debut season, in 1999, and came within a whisker of winning the Premiership, after giving up a 14-0 lead over fellow new team, the Melbourne Storm, to eventually lose 20-18 in controversial circumstances. It was the first Grand Final to be played at Stadium Australia, which was built especially for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and still to this day holds the record crowd at a Grand Final, with 107,999 people witnessing one of the best Grand Finals in the modern era.

1999 Grand Final.jpg
The 1999 NRL Grand Final between the Melbourne Storm & the St George Illawarra Dragons. Glenn Lazarus, Nathan Brown & Shaun Timmins looking at the big screen awaiting the Video Referee’s decision. There was 107,999 people at Stadium Australia to watch this Grand Final, and my dad was one of them.

Around this time, Dad decided that he would introduce me to the NRL, and start taking me to games at WIN Stadium. I remember that game very well, and the Dragons played the Parramatta Eels that day, and we won in a tight game by 2 points I think.

One of the best games me and my dad went to, would be the 2010 Preliminary Final at ANZ Stadium against the Wests Tigers. It was the game which saw the winner go to the Grand Final. We sat just behind the goal posts. It was a great game, and one that went down to the wire, and the Dragons five-eighth at the time, Jamie Soward kicked a field goal with 6 minutes remaining to give the Dragons a 13-12 lead. The Red V hung on for the final 6 minutes to advance to the Grand Final against the Sydney Roosters. Following this game, fellow fans were saying that we had to go to the Grand Final, but we had other plans that day.

The Dragons went on to win the Grand Final, quite convincingly, 32-8 over the Sydney Roosters, after trailing 8-6 at halftime. Dad, while although he was happy that St George Illawarra finally won a premiership, he didn’t feel the same way, as he did with the 1999 team. The 1999 team had a lot of local Illawarra players, and the 2010 team didn’t have nearly as many. That is why Dad didn’t feel overly joyed about the Red V’s 2010 triumph.

Me, my brother and my father, at the Dragons Members’ Christmas breakfast in 2010, (at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah) with the NRL Provan-Summons Trophy.


We still attend games regularly today, and we are Red V Members for the games in Wollongong, which means that we have season passes for all games held at WIN Stadium this year (against the Penrith Panthers, North Queensland Cowboys, Melbourne Storm & Brisbane Broncos), and sometimes we head up to the newly named University Of Wollongong Jubilee Oval (the Dragons other home ground, at Kogarah) to see games there. We recently saw them play the Canberra Raiders play there, and it was the first time that a game had been played there since the renaming of the ground. Me and my father enjoy going to games together, and we will continue to do so, hopefully for many more years to come. (We are next due to see the Dragons play in 2 weeks time on Saturday June 18, when the Dragons take on the Melbourne Storm at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.)

Euan Aitken Brad Fittler.jpg
St George Illawarra Dragons centre, and UOW student Euan Aitken celebrating his match winning try against the Canberra Raiders at a dark UOW Jubilee Oval in May (There was no power in the Kogarah area for the entire match). In the background, on the hill, you can see the Dragons faithful celebrating the golden point triumph. Channel 9 Sideline Commentator,  and NRL Legend, Brad Fittler is about to speak to him here.

Thanks to one of my BCM210 classmates, for sending me a link for a 2015 fans survey, which gives me quite a lot of data to work with. It also features many different questions, and quite a lot of them are similar to the ones I came up with for my own survey on Survey Monkey.

I learned that there are many contributing factors for people to support their favourite teams, as I said before in some of the answers that people said on my survey.

Thanks to a fellow BCM210 student, she gave me a link for a NRL fans survey from last year. It shows many interesting things that a rugby league fan/supporter likes and dislikes about the game and the whole experience, from favourite players, to stadium experiences, from new clubs/teams to best coaches, this survey covers all aspects of the NRL, and how people feel about different things that associate with the NRL, and make our experience better, whether we watch games at the venue, listen on the radio, or watch it live on Channel 9/WIN/NBN, Fox Sports or the NRL Official app.


NRL Fans Survey
A comic drawing of NRL and the popular North Queensland Cowboys co-captain, and superstar, Johnathan Thurston, as well as the Penrith Panthers, New Zealand Warriors & St George Illawarra Dragons.  (Photo, Daily Telegraph, August 27, 2015)


  • Curiosity
  • Communication
  • Creativity

I believe these methods were used effectively by myself in all the research that I conducted throughout this whole assessment task. At the start, I was very curious, on what influenced or impacted people to support/follow their favourite NRL team, and I believe that even though I got results from my survey on Survey Monkey, there is still further investigation that I must undertake.

Communication was also an important method, and a key component. I had to communicate with fellow BCM210 students, as well as any other University of Wollongong students to complete my survey, it was a bit of a struggle at first, but eventually people did end up completing it, I was quite happy when I found out that 42 people completed my survey which was great I believe.

Creativity. I believe I was creative in what I came up with, but I couldn’t do it alone, without any help or assistance, and that really helped me a hell of a lot, and I have already thanked those people above.

I was actually shocked when I saw that the Sydney Roosters had the equal most votes with the Cronulla Sharks, because the Roosters are not very well supported. The Roosters rarely fill their home stadium of Allianz Stadium at Moore Park, and that is why it came to me as a surprise to see them rank so highly.

The St George Illawarra Dragons result was no surprise, and I sort of expected them to be around that range, and being the local team, that was great.

Johnathan Thurston headgear.png
North Queensland Cowboys co-captain, Queensland and Australian representative, Johnathan Thurston. Thurston got the most votes, and in that Daily Telegraph survey from last year, he was voted the best player in the game. He is known for giving his headgear to fans, even if they go for the opposing team, as you can see here, he is giving his headgear to a Brisbane Broncos fan. He helped the Cowboys to a maiden premiership last year, kicking the match winning field goal in the Grand Final, to win 17-16 against the Brisbane Broncos. He was also awarded with the Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match in the Grand Final, and won the Golden Boot award, for best player in the world.


In conclusion, it was a huge challenge this assignment for all three tasks that is, and I am glad I got through it that’s for sure, and as I said before there are many people I would like to thank for this, and I wouldn’t have gotten this far if it wasn’t for those people, and they know who they are.

It was very interesting to see peoples different views and answers to the question that I put to the people. As for further research, I haven’t really given it a whole lot of thought, but I think it would be interesting to have a closer look in depth at maybe representative teams as well e.g State of Origin, New South Wales & Queensland. If I did do some further research in this area, that is something that I would highly consider looking at, for sure.


I learnt that researching your favourite topic (or one of them) can be fun, and for me it had its ups and downs, and its challenges.

I thought it would be like a stroll or a walk in the park, since I already knew so much about the NRL, but boy was I wrong in that department. I underestimated what I was up against, and I took it very lightly, but after researching so much in this topic, I knew it was a lot of work that I had to do, and it wasn’t easy, it was pretty much like running a marathon, a really long marathon.

“To collaborate means, literally, to work together, especially in an intellectual effort. While collaboration is central to the practice of ethnography, realising a more deliberate and explicit collaborative ethnography implies resituating collaborative practice at every stage of the ethnographic process, from fieldwork to writing and back again. Many ethnographers have done this before, and their collaborative work—regardless of their theoretical trajectories—provide us a point of departure for beginning an in-depth exploration of the history and theory behind a collaborative ethnography.” (Luke Eric Lassiter, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography)

That is what my research comes on the back of, and it helped significantly, and again I thank my BCM210 lecturer for helping me with this source. It required me to collaborate many of my ideas, and put them together with my research to come up with some questions and answers that I needed analysed, and I was quite happy with how I went in that regard.

I did a lot of communcating in this task, as it was essential to do so. I communicated with fellow BCM210 students, as I helped them with their own tasks, by contributing to some of their focus groups. I also had to use the UOW Communications & Media Facebook group page, and as well as other UOW Facebook group pages, such as the UOW Students Buy and Sell page.

johnathan thurston 2015 grand final.jpg
Johnathan Thurston after kicking the match-winning field goal in the 2015 NRL Grand Final to give the North Queensland Cowboys their maiden premiership, 20 years after their entry into the NRL competition. The Cowboys won the Grand Final 17-16 over the Brisbane Broncos in golden point.

I have learned quite a lot during this process as well, the different ways that contribute to people supporting their favourite NRL team/club, as well as the other questions that I wanted answered.

I also explored the history, and came up with all different ways that may influence people to support their teams, and it was quite interesting to learn all these different things. As they say in life “You learn new things every day”, and certainly I have done exactly that, and I hope to continue this into the future.

Communication is a big part, as the subject says “Research Practices in Media & Communication”, and this required quite a lot of communication with students, lecturers, and tutors.

This assignment gave me a challenge of using various platforms, including Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and I also used Survey Monkey for the very first time, with the help of other UOW students who said it was quite easy to use and come up with questions.

Thank you very much for reading.








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s