This a very subjective list and open for debate but I have come up with MY own list on what I think are the bet rivalries in the NRL with some dating back to 1908, the inaugural year for Rugby League in Australia. There are so many long standing rivalries, it’s hard to put them all in without offending someone but I would like to get your feedback on the list, be it good or bad and your moral outrage if your club was not included on the list and why.
Without further ado, I bring you the top five rivalries in the NRL:
1. Roosters v Rabbits
This is a rivalry that has roared back to life with the current form of both sides but had long been viewed as a one way domination in favour of the Roosters. With the Rabbits and Roosters sitting at one and two on the premiership ladder, this rivalry has been given a new lease of life and dates back to 1908, with both sides foundation clubs. It’s a bit early to say whether these two sides will feature in the 2013 grand final, but with both sides boasting outstanding talent, this rivalry should continue to burn nice and hot for at least the next five years.
2. Bulldogs v Eels
This is one of Australian sports greatest rivalries. Over the years, these two sides have played some classic games, the last coming in 2009 when both sides were pitted against each other to make the grand final against the Melbourne Storm. The Eels prevailed in front of over 76,000 fans at ANZ Stadium with Jarryd Hayne in blistering form for the Eels. These two sides played in the only tryless grand final in 1986, with the Eels prevailing 4-2.The Bulldogs have won more matches than the Eels but a rivalry needs two sides to make it work and whilst the Bulldogs are the better side at the moment, the Eels are building a new side that will be a force in the coming years and no doubt this rivalry still has many pages to be written.
3. Sharks v Dragons
The most local derby in the NRL. The Georges River is the only thing separating these two clubs and unless you are a fan of either club, you probably won’t understand what makes these two sides hate each other. It’s a big brother v little brother thing and dates back to 1967 when the Sharks entered the competition after the Dragons had already been established for 45 years. The Dragons have enjoyed more success as the Sharks are still to win their maiden premiership but the men from the shire have had their moments, However, the most recent victory goes to the Dragons, who beat the Sharks in the 1999 grand final qualifier after the Sharks led for much of the match. The chokers tag has been labelled to both clubs over time but until the Sharks get the premiership monkey off their back, they will remain the bigger choker of the two.
4. Storm v Manly
One of the newer rivalries with both sides dominating the past few years and there is no love lost between the two, In fact, I’d go as far as saying these clubs hate each other with a passion. It’s a split points decision as to who is on top but Manly have enjoyed the greatest victory with a 40-0 drubbing of the Storm in the 2008 grand final. Melbourne were minus Cameron Smith but as good as he is, he is not a 40 point difference player. This rivalry may cool a little with both sides coming to end of their golden run but there will always be a little extra feeling when these two sides meet on the paddock.
5. Dragons v Bulldogs
There were so many other rivalries that could have made the list like Manly v Eels, Panthers v Eels, Bulldogs v Roosters, Dragons v Roosters, Manly v Tigers and the list goes on but the Dragons and Bulldogs have had a healthy rivalry that dates back decades and has led to some spiteful clashes over the years and it continues to this day. It’s hard to say who has come out on top in this rivalry but both sides relish the opportunity to get stuck into each other whenever they play and the fans come out in droves to enjoy the tense atmosphere these sides create. I support neither team but I remember a finals game back in 1995 played in appalling condition with the Bulldogs prevailing and going on to beat Manly in the grand final 17-4. It was a fierce game played by traditional rivals in terrible conditions but neither team gave an inch. That was a rivalry is all about.