The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, with regular agenda items including updates across football, integrity, and the future footprint of the game.
Significant outcomes from the Commission meeting included confirmation of the NRL Grand Final Day match schedule, a summary of the NRL's inaugural Magic Round in Brisbane, and a determination on the NRL's recent discussion of a 'Wildcard Weekend' as part of future Finals Series.
Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, Peter Beattie confirmed the Commission had ratified a decision for the NRL Holden Women's Premiership Grand Final to be played immediately prior to the NRL Telstra Men's Premiership Grand Final.
"The InTrust Super State Championship Grand Final will kick off Grand Final day and I'm delighted that fans will be able to arrive early and take in three fantastic games of rugby league on Grand Final day at ANZ Stadium," Mr Beattie said.
In relation to NRL Magic Round Brisbane, the Commission heard that:
- TV audience increased by 2%, compared to the 2018 season round average.
- Crowds reached in excess of 135,000 over the four days of competition, with an average crowd of 33,000 per day – an increase of 12.5% on last year's average crowd for the same round.
- Interstate visitation was in excess of 26,000, or 20% of the fans, providing a significant return for the Queensland economy.
- Total audience across the NRL's digital network was over 3 million, the second highest engagement level this season and almost 10% higher than the season average.
- 25 schools and junior rugby league clubs were visited by NRL players and NRL Game Development Officers, conducting coaching and skills clinics and engaging with in excess of 10,000 young fans.
- Two coaching and refereeing education events were delivered by current NRL club coaching staff, with in excess of 100 junior rugby league coaches attending.
- 15 sponsors built fan engagement experiences in and around the Suncorp Stadium precinct.
"Magic Round was a fantastic experience for our fans, our players, our broadcasters and our sponsors," Mr Beattie said.
"Suncorp Stadium and Brisbane was the perfect backdrop to launch this multi-day event, which is another example of our game looking to expand our boundaries and increase our entertainment brand.
"I thank everyone who made Magic Round Brisbane possible, particularly the Queensland Government (through Tourism & Events Queensland) and Brisbane City Council (through Brisbane Marketing) who backed us from the start."
The Commission also resolved that there would be no immediate change to the Finals Series by the introduction of a Wildcard Weekend.
"There are two things that this Commission is driven by, and that is consultation and innovation," Mr Beattie said.
"We sought input from a range of stakeholders on the concept of a Wildcard Weekend and whilst it is fair to say that there was strong support in some quarters, on balance, the Commission has determined that the Finals Series will remain as is for the time being.
"We will always look for ways to improve and grow our game, and that includes looking at all options across our regular season and Finals Series, to engage with wider audiences, boost our broadcast figures and promote our commercial partners."
The Commission also congratulated Professor Megan Davis for leading the charge for the Game to join 13 other leading Australian organisations today in pledging support for the Uluru Statement.
"This is a statement dear to my heart and to the hearts of many Indigenous communities across Australia," Professor Davis said.
"I'm proud to be part of a Commission and a Game that is united and strong in voice in supporting all communities and particularly First Nations peoples in their quest for a greater voice across their land."