Super League (Australia) season 1997

This article details the Super League half of 1997's split club competition. For the Australian Rugby League half, see Australian Rugby League season 1997. For more information on the Super League franchise, see Super League (Australia)The 1997 Australian Super League premiership (known as the Telstra Cup for sponsorship purposes) was contested by ten clubs. It was the 90th season of professional rugby league football in Australia and the only top grade competition to be run by the News Limited-controlled Super League.

There were just three teams in the competition based in Sydney compared to seven in the rival Australian Rugby League competition being run at the same time. A further team from greater New South Wales, two teams from Queensland, one from the Australian Capital Territory, one from South Australia, one from Western Australia and one from New Zealand made up the competition.


Super League was a rugby league competition that was held in Australia in 1997. It was created by News Corporation after an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the pay television rights to Australian rugby league games. After two years of legal battles the competition was played for a single season in 1997 before merging with the rival Australian Rugby League competition in 1998 to form the National Rugby League.


Season Summary

The Telstra Cup premiership was held over eighteen rounds. The season was dominated by the minor premiers, the Brisbane Broncos, who won 14 of their 18 matches, losing only to the Penrith Panthers, the Hunter Mariners and eventual runners-up, the Cronulla Sharks. The Grand Final was played at Brisbane's ANZ Stadium in front of 58,000 people; the ground record for that venue. The Broncos defeated the Sharks 26-8 to win their third premiership. The Auckland Warriors had teams in both the reserve grade and two age-group Grand Finals but lost all three.

The winners in all grades were:

  • First Grade: Brisbane Broncos
  • Reserve Grade: Canterbury Bulldogs
  • Under-19s: Penrith Panthers
  • Under-17s: Brisbane Broncos



Teaser ads had been created by Mojo Sydney in 1996 around the theme of "Superleague: It's Coming". They featured Super League players performing superhuman feats. One notable execution included Canberra's Bradley Clyde inside a rodeo corral being stormed by a runaway bull with the suggestion that he is about to singlehandedly bring the bull to ground.

By season launch in 1997 Foxtel's ad agency Young and Rubicam Sydney had the Super League account and created a space-themed ad with players running through outer-space and the tag-line "Super League: It's out of this world".

By mid season the account had moved again and Sydney agency VCD produced much of the game promotional and club fixture print ads that ran in newspapers throughout the season. This commenced VCD's association with Super League that would continue with the ARL post the re-unification.


Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts

1 Brisbane 18 14 1 3 481 283 +198 29
2 Cronulla 18 12 0 6 403 230 +173 24
3 Canberra 18 11 0 7 436 337 +99 22
4 Canterbury 18 10 0 8 453 447 +6 20
5 Penrith 18 9 0 9 431 462 -31 18
6 Hunter 18 7 0 11 350 363 -13 14
7 Auckland 18 7 0 11 332 406 -74 14
8 Perth 18 7 0 11 321 456 -135 14
9 Adelaide 18 6 1 11 303 402 -99 13
10 North Queensland 18 5 2 11 328 452 -124 12


Minor premiers the Brisbane Broncos only played two finals games (including the grand final), both against the Cronulla Sharks winning both convincingly.

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd

Preliminary Semi Finals

Cronulla Sharks 22–18 Canberra Raiders 30 August 1997 Endeavour Field Bill Harrigan 17,137
Canterbury Bulldogs 14–15 Penrith Panthers 1 September 1997 Belmore Oval Graham Annesley 10,492
Major Qualifying Finals

Brisbane Broncos 34–2 Cronulla Sharks 6 September 1997 Stockland Stadium Bill Harrigan 26,256
Canberra Raiders 32–12 Penrith Panthers 8 September 1997 Bruce Stadium Graham Annesley 10,153
Preliminary Final

Cronulla Sharks 10–4 Canberra Raiders 13 September 1997 Endeavour Field Bill Harrigan 17,638

Grand Final

Brisbane Broncos 26–8 Cronulla Sharks 20 September 1997 ANZ Stadium Bill Harrigan 58,912

Grand Final

Brisbane Broncos Position Cronulla Sharks
Darren Lockyer FB David Peachey
Michael De Vere WG Mat Rogers
Steve Renouf CE Andrew Ettingshausen (c)
Anthony Mundine CE Russell Richardson
Wendell Sailor WG Geoff Bell
Kevin Walters FE Mitch Healey
Allan Langer (c) HB Paul Green
Brad Thorn PR Danny Lee
Andrew Gee HK Dean Triester
Shane Webcke PR Jason Stevens
Gorden Tallis SR Craig Greenhill
Peter Ryan SR Chris McKenna
Darren Smith LK Tawera Nikau
Tonie Carroll Bench Adam Dykes
John Plath Bench Sean Ryan
Michael Hancock Bench Les Davidson
Ben Walker Bench Nathan Long
Wayne Bennett Coach John Lang
Despite rain, a record crowd in Queensland rugby league history was at ANZ Stadium for the first ever night grand final and the only Australian top level grand final to be played outside Sydney. The match crowned a week of grand final festivities, including a ball, street parade and massive game-night fireworks display, of the sort the Broncos' management had wanted the ARL to bring to Brisbane before the code's big schism in 1995. Jon Stevens and Olivia Newton-John also performed in the pre-match entertainment.

The talented Brisbane side, featuring young up-and-coming stars in Darren Lockyer, Gorden Tallis and Shane Webcke overwhelmed a game Cronulla side 26–8. Steve Renouf, became only the third man to score three tries in a grand final. The win kept the Broncos' 100% record intact in Grand Finals making it three from three, while the Sharks had yet to make a grand final victory with zero from three.

Brisbane 26 (Tries: Renouf 3, Hancock; Goals: Lockyer 5/6)

Cronulla 8 (Tries: Richardson; Goals: Rogers 2/2)

National Rugby League

With twenty-two teams playing in two competitions in 1997 crowd attendances and corporate sponsorships were spread very thinly, and many teams found themselves in financial difficulty by the end of the season. On September 23, 1997 the ARL announced that it was forming a new company to control the competition in 1998 and invited Super League clubs to participate. On October 7 Rupert Murdoch announced that he was confident that there would be a single competition in 1998 and in the following months the National Rugby League, jointly owned by the ARL and News Limited, was formed.

See also


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