Official Release: State of the Game 2009

For Ken Stephen Medal voting - click here.

To download the official State of the Game 2009 document - click here.


The National Rugby League will this week set the record for the highest ever attendance in a 16-team competition with the three millionth fan due to walk into a stadium this weekend.

A Telstra Premiership season race that will take until the final day of the final competition round to determine the final eight has seen Rugby League defy the trend of every other Australian football code by actually increasing average crowds 2.12% to date.

Only 88,968 thousand fans stand between the round 25 tally of 2,935,181 and the 2007 NRL record of 3,024,149.  The only previous occasion in which the game passed three million fans in the competition rounds was in 1995 when a 20-team competition recorded 3,061,338 during the regular season. Even this record remains under threat in 2009.

The game’s 2009 report card shows growth in television ratings, club membership, licensing, online engagement, participation and a closer and faster competition on the field.

Off the field, there was an increase in the number of players taking part in career education and an increase in the number of hours devoted to community and charity activities.

NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, today detailed the game’s achievements flanked by some of the 2009 nominees for the Telstra Ken Stephen Medal for outstanding community service, Nathan Hindmarsh, Wendell Sailor and Andrew Ryan.

Each club has publicly announced its Telstra Ken Stephen Medal nominee with the winner to be announced at the Rugby League One Community Awards on November 24.  

From today, the public can vote for the first time for who they believe should win by clicking here and their choice will be counted as one of final votes tallied by the Awards Committee.
 
“These are players who have shown tremendous leadership on and off the field and who themselves are a big part of the game’s success in 2009,” Mr Gallop said.

“Nathan, Andrew, Wendell and the other Ken Stephen Medal nominees represent the values of the overwhelming majority of players and Rugby League’s recognition of this award for outstanding community service is a reminder of the game’s true aspirations.

“There’s no question that Rugby League has achieved some extraordinary results in the context of global and domestic issues this season.

“We have done and will continue to face up to issues when they arise, but the players who have inspired people each week and the fans who have celebrated their love of the game also need to be recognised.

“The efforts of players on the field each week have been breathtaking and audiences have shown their appreciation both at the ground and on television.”

The overall lift in television ratings across free to air matches on the Nine Network for Friday nights has been 3.6% in Sydney and 16.1% in Brisbane while the Sunday match is up 16.2% in Sydney and 6% in Brisbane.

Chief Executive of the Nine Network, Mr David Gyngell, said:
 
“It's immensely gratifying because it celebrates everything that is great about our game – the skill, the excitement and the delivery of the product.
 
“Rugby League supporters are a very savvy group. They make a clear distinction between the off-field negatives attached to the behaviour of a small minority of players and what is a terrific on-field competition. All the upward statistics attest to just that.
 
“It's a tribute to David Gallop and his administration that the game itself is in such good shape and so strongly supported. And the code has emerged stronger because of David Gallop's positive and sure handling – particularly his uncompromising line-in-the sand approach to unacceptable off-field conduct.”
 
Rugby League has claimed 60 of the top 100 positions across all subscription television programs to date in 2009, with 15 matches recording audiences over 300,000 – almost double last year’s figure.

David Malone, CEO of FOX SPORTS, said Rugby League viewership once again experienced growth in 2009.

“The NRL has strengthened its already robust position as one of the most popular sports on FOX SPORTS in 2009, with over 3.6 million subscribers tuning in to FOX SPORTS’ NRL coverage through the 25 completed rounds,” said Malone.

“This season 15 matches have attracted an audience of over 300,000 viewers, compared with 10 matches last year.

“Monday Night Football is also proving to be increasingly popular with subscribers, with eight of the top 10 highest rating matches being Monday night games.

“The average audience of Monday Night Football has increased 8% on 2008, with an average of 281,000 viewers watching each week.”

Mr Gallop said the results were a tribute to the talents of the players, the dedication of coaches, clubs and on-field officials and an ongoing commitment to a salary cap system that allows local kids to become local heroes:

“We are about to head into one of the most wide open finals series in memory, so there is certainly plenty of excitement ahead.”

For Ken Stephen Medal voting - click here.

To download the official State of the Game 2009 document - click here.