After experiencing rapid growth around a decade ago, NRL team membership numbers have been holding steady over the past few years, with over 300,000 dedicated fans signing up to be a member of one of the 16 teams in the league each year. Of course, some clubs contribute a lot more towards this final number than others, so let’s take a look at the NRL teams with the most members.
1. South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs are, along with the Broncos, the only side in the NRL to have cracked the 30,000 members mark, and though they’ve failed to hit that number since 2018, they’ve still retained their status as one of the most well-supported clubs in the NRL. In fact, in 2019 and 2020 they sold more memberships than any other club, reclaiming that coveted title off of Brisbane. Last year they sold just a tick under 30,000 total memberships, and with the club enjoying a brilliant start to the 2021 season and looking like one of the leading contenders for the NRL Premiership, they will likely be right up there once again this year.
2. Parramatta Eels
The Eels have enjoyed incredible growth in their membership over the past nine years, and last year leapfrogged the Broncos to sit behind only South Sydney in total memberships sold. It’s an incredible turnaround for a club which sold just over 10,000 memberships back in 2012, only nine short years ago. The growth between 2012 and 2016 was somewhat in line with the overall league-wide increase in memberships, but in the past few years their continued presence at the top of the NRL standings has no doubt played a major role in the sustained progress. They have reached the semi-finals three times in the last four years and are poised to again play a role at the pointy end of the season, so there’s no reason to imagine their membership numbers will do anything but continue on this upward trend.
3. Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos have regularly held the mantle as the most supported team in the NRL, and were accumulating over 35,000 members per year prior to 2020 – comfortably the most in the league. Last season, however, they saw a significant drop-off – likely in large part to do with their poor on-field performance which saw them lose a club record 11 games in a row during the season. In 2020 they recorded 27,463 members in total, more than 7,000 less than the year prior. Testament to just how strong a membership base they have had in seasons past, however, this was still the third most in the NRL.
4. Melbourne Storm
As the only NRL side in Australia’s second biggest city, it’s little wonder that the Storm are right up there in membership totals. Granted the AFL is significantly more popular in Melbourne, but the Storm’s incredible run of success over more than a decade has helped grow the popularity of rugby league in the city, and the Storm’s membership numbers are testament to that. In 2020 they sold more than 25,000 memberships, enough to have them sitting very comfortably in fourth place in the league.
After these four sides there is a significant drop in membership totals. The most successful side of the last few years, even the Roosters’ membership tally sat at just 15,219, around the middle of the pack, and in 2020 no other side reached 20,000. The Raiders weren’t far off with 19,039 while the Knights, Panthers and Warriors all had over 18,000, but none of them got close to matching it with the above four sides, who are easily the teams with the most members in the NRL.