When it comes to rugby league, Australia’s NRL tends to produce silver screen-worthy drama almost every season. The league’s decades-old (if not centuries-old) teams have developed quality rivalries that keep fans on the edge of their seats. Meanwhile, the country’s regular output of top competitors means the breadth of competition is incomparable.
From the Super League war of the late 90s to last season’s big win for the Panthers, the league is the focus of attention-grabbing stories each year. However, most rugby documentaries tend to cover rugby union competitions, which means the options for NRL fans are limited.
While most fans follow the latest breaking news in the league, documentaries tend to dig deeper into the stories that grab attention. For example, some of the most popular documentaries that cover the topic of poker dive deep into top global events, the industry’s most eccentric personalities, and the development of online poker.
Rugby League, by comparison, has few quality projects that provide investigative dives into some of the most riveting stories—NRL included. But given the NFL’s extensive history in Australia and the nation’s commanding influence on the sport, that may not always be the case.
And if producers are looking for top NRL stories worth covering, the next three topics would provide an incredible framework.
Queensland Takes Eight Consecutive Origin Wins
Rivalries infuse any sports competition with extra tension—and few series are as ingrained and intense as the State of Origin series between the Blues and the Maroons. The series is one of Australia’s biggest sports events… and few rugby fans can forget the eight-year domination of the Maroons over New South Wales.
Starting in 2006 with an intercept try in Game 3 from Darren Lockyer to the 2012 40-meter field goal from Cooper Cronk, there would be plenty of content. However, what would take this documentary above and beyond would be a perspective from the Blues. How After all, there’s been plenty said in regards to the Maroons’ prolific run—but how does a team like the Blues survive an eight-year battering?
South Sydney Ends a 43-Year Drought
While the Origin Series domination would provide ample action to dissect and analyze, a story covering the rise of South Sydney would touch on a key sports fan experience: pulling for the underdog. The story of South Sydney’s first Premiership win in 43 years has all the hall markers of a rollercoaster journey—from Russell Crowe’s purchase of the club to George Piggins matching 80,000 fans deep to Town Hall.
Such a story would also provide filmmakers with a chance to highlight the NRL’s history and cultural significance throughout Australia. As one of the oldest and most storied clubs in the country, the South’s journey back to the top comes with added historical depth. In other words, it wouldn’t just be for South Sydney fans, but all NRL fans.
Melbourne Storm Salary Cap Scandal
Any NRL fans considering which stories would translate well for an investigative documentary are likely to think of the 2008 Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal. When the news broke in 2010 that the Storm had been breaching their salary cap extensively for years, the team was stripped of its titles from 2006 to 2010.
The real-life scandal has all the twists and turns of a Hollywood script. However, there’s been a lack of meaningful insider information. Just like Netflix’s The Last Dance shined a light on what went on behind the scenes during the Chicago Bulls’ multi-year run, a Storm-scandal project could do the same for some of the NRL’s biggest names.
While it’s likely a documentary would focus on the ramifications of the scandal, from exorbitant fines to the team’s 2012 legitimate premiership win, the human element would provide plenty of material. Whether players like Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, and Greg Inglis might not be willing to bare their secrets to the camera. But a look at the human dynamics behind Australia’s greatest sporting scandal is what many fans have craved since the news broke in 2010.