Every year, the NRL Grand Final draws around 80,000 passionate supporters through the gates while up to three million sit down to watch it on TV, making it one of the most highly anticipated sporting events in the country. The 2021 edition promises to be no different, so here’s all you need to know about the biggest day on the NRL calendar.
Where is the NRL Grand Final played?
The NRL Grand Final has been played at Stadium Australia in Sydney’s west every year since 1999. The reason for this is that Stadium Australia is far and away the biggest ground at which NRL games are played, and playing it there allows for the huge swathes of supporters who attend. In fact, with 2020 being an obvious exception, the smallest crowd to have walked through the gates there on Grand Final Day in 21 years is 79,609, and only twice has it failed to crack the 80,000 mark.
While some may claim that the monopoly this ground has over the NRL Grand Final is unfair, particularly for interstate teams who subsequently have to travel to win the Premiership, the aforementioned numbers make it difficult to justify playing it elsewhere, and it appears as though the NRL feels the same way. In 2019, a deal was secured which ensured the Grand Final would take place at Stadium Australia up until 2046, which will be just under 50 years after the first time it was played there.
What time is the kick off for the NRL Grand Final?
The start time for the Grand Final has been the subject of significant consternation among fans, players and broadcasters alike over the past couple of decades, but in recent years a night game has been preferred and 2021 will be no different, with the game set to kick off at 7.30pm AEDT on Sunday, October 3.
The game has been played in the evening ever since 2013, but prior to that it was changed on numerous occasions. Traditionally held in the afternoon at 3.00pm, it was moved to the more broadcaster-friendly evening time slot in 2000, before it was again changed in 2008. On that occasion it moved to 5pm, halfway between the traditional time slot and the new one, but that only lasted a few years before it was again shifted to the evening five years later.
Who will be playing in the NRL Grand Final?
There are a number of teams vying for a spot on NRL Grand Final day. The two runaway favourites to get there are the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm, the two sides who fought out a thrilling affair in last year’s Grand Final, but few would be surprised if the likes of the Eels, Rabbitohs, Roosters and even the Sea Eagles ended up at Stadium Australia on the first Sunday of October.
The NRL Grand Final is one of the biggest events in Australian sport, capturing the attention of millions around the country and plenty more abroad for 90 minutes of the most hard-hitting rugby league imaginable. This year it will take place on Sunday, October 3 at 7.30pm AEDT, and with many of the best players in the world set to take to the field, you better make sure you clear your calendar.