What Can the NRL Learn From the Premier League?

The English Premier League has exploded into a global phenomenon since the turn of the century, with audiences all over the world tuning in. It’s certainly a competition that has attracted plenty of admirers, and the Australian NRL may well look to the Premier League in its bid to grow the rugby league competition Down Under.

Foreign Stars Growing the Game

When we think of the Premier League and the best players in its history, most will quickly look to the stars from abroad that have lit up the competition. Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp, and Didier Drogba are just some of the greats to have graced the Premier League. These greats were drawn to the growing competition through the 90s and 00s.

Of course, when it comes to the NRL, Australia and New Zealand are blessed with a large pool of talented players, and so they dominate the squads. Players from the Pacific Islands have also heavily influenced the competition. But barring some top talent that makes their way over from the Super League in the Northern Hemisphere, there are few players who head to the NRL from other nations.

Supporters take interest in players from their own countries, and that’s one of the reasons why the cosmopolitan nature of the Premier League has bred so much attention from around the world. Rugby League is trying hard to expand the game beyond its traditional base in England, Australia, and, to a lesser extent, New Zealand. If that can be done, then audiences for more nations may well begin to follow the NRL.

Expanding the Competition

The Premier League currently has a 20-team system that has been used since 1995. Ahead of the 2021 season, in which Penrith Panthers are the 9/2 favourites in the NRL betting to win the Grand Final, the competition has 16 teams taking part. However, this could be set to change as the NRL CEO Andrew Abdo recently stated “the plan for the NRL is to stabilise, renovate and then grow”.

As part of that potential growth, reports have suggested a second team in Brisbane could be created, along with another team in New Zealand. Currently, the Warriors are the only Kiwi team in the competition, and a second side in New Zealand would certainly create a much-needed rivalry in the country.

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An 18-team tournament obviously creates more games, which means potential growth in television revenue. This could be vital for the NRL as TV revenue has played a massive role in the growth of the Premier League over recent decades and this could be a good example to follow. That money has seen clubs become able to expand their stadiums and improve matchday experiences, while of course securing some of the best football talent from around the world.

At the end of the day, sport is entertainment, and when it comes to rugby league the NRL offers some of the best action there is. The success of the Premier League is certainly a goal to aim for, and by increasing the knowledge and popularity of rugby league into new territories, many will take notice of the NRL as it looks to expand in the near future.