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NRL Salary Cap Era

TagMonster

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Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Messages
748
I got bored this afternoon so decided to have a look over the NRL Results during the Salary Cap Era (1998 through 2020).

Here are some the simple stats:

  • 23 Seasons Plays
  • 23 Grand Finals Played
  • 15 of the 16 Teams have played in a Grand Final (Only Gold Coast have missed out)

This actually surprised me a lot. The fact that almost every team has had a crack over the past 23 years truly surprised me (bar the lowly Titans).

Delving deeper into the stats though reveals some sad outcomes:

  • Melbourne have played in 10 of the last 23 Grand Finals
  • Roosters have played in 8 of the last 23 Grand Finals
  • No other team has played in over 4 Grand Finals (Manly, Brisbane and Canterbury)

Looking specifically at the last 15 years it gets even worse:

  • Melbourne have played in 9 of the last 15 Grand Finals (greater than 50%)
  • No other team has played more than 4 Grand Finals over the same period (Manly and Roosters)

When you consider that over the last 15 years only 2 Grand Finals have not had either Melbourne, Roosters or Manly the competitions starts to look a bit lopsided. Its even worse when you consider Melbourne have played in 4 of the last 5 and over half of the last 15 Grand Finals.

But playing in the Grand Final is only one half of the test. The winners of the Grand Final Since 1998 are:

  • Melbourne have won 6 of the last 23 Grand Finals, 5 of the last 15 Grand Finals, or even works 2 of the last 5 Grand Finals.
  • Roosters have won 4 of the last 23, but 3 of the last 10 and of course 2 of the last 3 years.

No other team really comes close to the dominance of Melbourne over the last 15 years, not even the Roosters who have been dominate over the past 3 years.

So how can 15 of the 16 teams have had a crack at Grand Final Glory over the past 23 years, yet two teams in particular have dominated the past 10 years. What changed. Well looking over a few items I noticed the below:

2005 - Increase in TPA to $150k
2013 - Increase in Marquee Player Agreement form $250k to $600k

So, 15 years ago the NRL increased the amount each player can receive in TPAs significantly and then 7 years ago they more than doubled the amount a marquee player can received over and above the Salary Cap. What is very interesting is that around these same times, both Melbourne and the Roosters become the dominant two teams in the league by a significant margin. Unsurprisingly enough, they are also two teams that have significant financial backing (Uncle Nick and News Corp).

So when you break it down as a "Pre TPA Era" and a "Post TPA Era" you get the below:

Pre TPA Era
  • Grand Finals Played: 8
  • 11 of 16 Teams Represented in at least 1 Grand Final (68.75% of teams represented)
  • Every year a team had a 8.6% chance of being in the Grand Final
  • Roosters played in 4 Grand Final (winning only 1)
  • Only Brisbane won more than once (2 wins) 25%

Post TPA Era
  • Grand Finals Played: 15
  • 13 of 16 Teams Represented in at least 1 Grand Final (81.25% of teams represented)
  • Every year a team had a 5.41% chance of being in the Grand Final
  • Melbourne played in 9 Grand Finals (winning 5) 60%
  • Melbourne won 5 times whilst the Roosters won 3 times (54% of Grand Final Winners)
  • Only 3 Grand Finals played over this period not involving the Roosters or Melbourne

Post Marquee Player Agreement Increase
  • Grand Finals Played: 8
  • 10 of 16 Teams Represented in at least 1 Grand Final (62.5% of teams represented)
  • Every year a team had a 7.81% chance of being in the Grand Final
  • Melbourne Played in 4 Grand Finals, Roosters played in 3 (44% of Grand Final Representation)
  • Only teams to win multiple are Rooster with 3 and Melbourne with 2 (62.5% of Winners)
  • Only 2 Grand Finals played over this period not involving the Roosters or Melbourne


The salary cap was introduced to level the playing field. Looking at the Pre TPA era, I think it generally works. The chances of making it to the Grand Final have reduced marginally since TPA and Marquee Player payments were unleashed with the major difference is in the same teams winning repeatedly.

So I guess my conclusion is that the competition is "competitive" for finals representation and Grand Final representation. Its just that the winners are almost always one of two teams which are arguably (or actually) over the salary cap. The easiest way to do this is through TPAs.

My fix, get rid of the salary cap. Pay the players whatever they are worth. Its a free market economy. Let the market dictate and eliminate restrictions of trade etc. To keep the competition competitive, introduce a Player Points Cap. Every player is rated on a scale of 1-10. Every team has a player rating representative and they rate all played (including their own). The top two and bottom two scores for each player is eliminated and the average of the remaining 12 is their score. Each team has a total amount of points they can use for their Top 30 squad. All player rating are published, there is no way to cheat the cap.

Unfortunately, the two dominate teams of the past 10 years will continue to play with 14 players on the field each and every game. I don't have a solution to that one.....
 

Harry Smith

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Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Messages
4,190
Release each club's salary cap details, including every player's wages and the amount of TPA expenditure (maybe not in depth as to who receives what). That'll reveal the real playing field but won't happen.
 

Shoe1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2010
Messages
11,815
I got bored this afternoon so decided to have a look over the NRL Results during the Salary Cap Era (1998 through 2020).

Here are some the simple stats:

  • 23 Seasons Plays
  • 23 Grand Finals Played
  • 15 of the 16 Teams have played in a Grand Final (Only Gold Coast have missed out)

This actually surprised me a lot. The fact that almost every team has had a crack over the past 23 years truly surprised me (bar the lowly Titans).

Delving deeper into the stats though reveals some sad outcomes:

  • Melbourne have played in 10 of the last 23 Grand Finals
  • Roosters have played in 8 of the last 23 Grand Finals
  • No other team has played in over 4 Grand Finals (Manly, Brisbane and Canterbury)

Looking specifically at the last 15 years it gets even worse:

  • Melbourne have played in 9 of the last 15 Grand Finals (greater than 50%)
  • No other team has played more than 4 Grand Finals over the same period (Manly and Roosters)

When you consider that over the last 15 years only 2 Grand Finals have not had either Melbourne, Roosters or Manly the competitions starts to look a bit lopsided. Its even worse when you consider Melbourne have played in 4 of the last 5 and over half of the last 15 Grand Finals.

But playing in the Grand Final is only one half of the test. The winners of the Grand Final Since 1998 are:

  • Melbourne have won 6 of the last 23 Grand Finals, 5 of the last 15 Grand Finals, or even works 2 of the last 5 Grand Finals.
  • Roosters have won 4 of the last 23, but 3 of the last 10 and of course 2 of the last 3 years.

No other team really comes close to the dominance of Melbourne over the last 15 years, not even the Roosters who have been dominate over the past 3 years.

So how can 15 of the 16 teams have had a crack at Grand Final Glory over the past 23 years, yet two teams in particular have dominated the past 10 years. What changed. Well looking over a few items I noticed the below:

2005 - Increase in TPA to $150k
2013 - Increase in Marquee Player Agreement form $250k to $600k

So, 15 years ago the NRL increased the amount each player can receive in TPAs significantly and then 7 years ago they more than doubled the amount a marquee player can received over and above the Salary Cap. What is very interesting is that around these same times, both Melbourne and the Roosters become the dominant two teams in the league by a significant margin. Unsurprisingly enough, they are also two teams that have significant financial backing (Uncle Nick and News Corp).

So when you break it down as a "Pre TPA Era" and a "Post TPA Era" you get the below:

Pre TPA Era
  • Grand Finals Played: 8
  • 11 of 16 Teams Represented in at least 1 Grand Final (68.75% of teams represented)
  • Every year a team had a 8.6% chance of being in the Grand Final
  • Roosters played in 4 Grand Final (winning only 1)
  • Only Brisbane won more than once (2 wins) 25%

Post TPA Era
  • Grand Finals Played: 15
  • 13 of 16 Teams Represented in at least 1 Grand Final (81.25% of teams represented)
  • Every year a team had a 5.41% chance of being in the Grand Final
  • Melbourne played in 9 Grand Finals (winning 5) 60%
  • Melbourne won 5 times whilst the Roosters won 3 times (54% of Grand Final Winners)
  • Only 3 Grand Finals played over this period not involving the Roosters or Melbourne

Post Marquee Player Agreement Increase
  • Grand Finals Played: 8
  • 10 of 16 Teams Represented in at least 1 Grand Final (62.5% of teams represented)
  • Every year a team had a 7.81% chance of being in the Grand Final
  • Melbourne Played in 4 Grand Finals, Roosters played in 3 (44% of Grand Final Representation)
  • Only teams to win multiple are Rooster with 3 and Melbourne with 2 (62.5% of Winners)
  • Only 2 Grand Finals played over this period not involving the Roosters or Melbourne


The salary cap was introduced to level the playing field. Looking at the Pre TPA era, I think it generally works. The chances of making it to the Grand Final have reduced marginally since TPA and Marquee Player payments were unleashed with the major difference is in the same teams winning repeatedly.

So I guess my conclusion is that the competition is "competitive" for finals representation and Grand Final representation. Its just that the winners are almost always one of two teams which are arguably (or actually) over the salary cap. The easiest way to do this is through TPAs.

My fix, get rid of the salary cap. Pay the players whatever they are worth. Its a free market economy. Let the market dictate and eliminate restrictions of trade etc. To keep the competition competitive, introduce a Player Points Cap. Every player is rated on a scale of 1-10. Every team has a player rating representative and they rate all played (including their own). The top two and bottom two scores for each player is eliminated and the average of the remaining 12 is their score. Each team has a total amount of points they can use for their Top 30 squad. All player rating are published, there is no way to cheat the cap.

Unfortunately, the two dominate teams of the past 10 years will continue to play with 14 players on the field each and every game. I don't have a solution to that one.....
I was with you until you concluded there should be no cap.

great research and data though, thanks.

IMO Manly would be there with Melbourne and Easts if we had stability.

Over the 20 years there have been unstable periods due to 2009 max going broke, 2011 Hasler / penn situation / 2015 tooves sacked for coming 9th / bad management of ageing stars / Barrett.

Here’s hoping we have stability now.
 

TagMonster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Messages
748
I was with you until you concluded there should be no cap.

great research and data though, thanks.

IMO Manly would be there with Melbourne and Easts if we had stability.

Over the 20 years there have been unstable periods due to 2009 max going broke, 2011 Hasler / penn situation / 2015 tooves sacked for coming 9th / bad management of ageing stars / Barrett.

Here’s hoping we have stability now.
Curious on your objections to eliminating the cap? There would still be a cap to keep the field competitive. Only reason I suggest this is that it all but eliminates cheating the cap (under table payments) and the excuse you can't release the figures due to player privacy.
 

TagMonster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Messages
748
Release each club's salary cap details, including every player's wages and the amount of TPA expenditure (maybe not in depth as to who receives what). That'll reveal the real playing field but won't happen.
Now that would be a good read. I'd suggest a number of clubs would be over the cap. I'd be more interested in the club's that are overpaying for under Performance
 

ShakeySeaEagle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
197
To my understanding we are the only pro sport to have a salary cap and no draft system. Along with the ridiculous TPAs how do the lesser teams fairly compete. If the teams finishing in the bottom end of the ladder know they have the next big thing to draft they don’t have to go out and pay massive overs based on potential because you get the rookies on rookie contracts. Our cap has created this uneven market because players take overs to go to a lesser club or unders to play with the winners. There is nothing fair about the NRLs salary cap. How the hell can we compete with Brisbane or Roosters in the TPA market, it’s the for at thing that needs to be abolished. A draft would also teach the younger kids some patience and the managers couldn’t hold the clubs to ransom so much.
 

Harry Smith

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Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Messages
4,190
To my understanding we are the only pro sport to have a salary cap and no draft system. Along with the ridiculous TPAs how do the lesser teams fairly compete. If the teams finishing in the bottom end of the ladder know they have the next big thing to draft they don’t have to go out and pay massive overs based on potential because you get the rookies on rookie contracts. Our cap has created this uneven market because players take overs to go to a lesser club or unders to play with the winners. There is nothing fair about the NRLs salary cap. How the hell can we compete with Brisbane or Roosters in the TPA market, it’s the for at thing that needs to be abolished. A draft would also teach the younger kids some patience and the managers couldn’t hold the clubs to ransom so much.
TPA's don't even make sense. It's just goes against the whole idea of a salary cap and often is just excess on the player's side.
 

The Who

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
12,545
First of all: Tag Monster; brilliant analysis. Be prepared for this to be plagiarised by so-called 'journalists' -- and I bet you don't get a cent for your research.
Secondly; the notion of fairness in sport went out with amateurism. You can buy success. Let's face it, we did that in the 70s and 80s.
Clubs with successful Leagues Clubs or wealthy benefactors will continue to prosper at the expense of battling clubs like we have become.
 

TagMonster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Messages
748
TPA's don't even make sense. It's just goes against the whole idea of a salary cap and often is just excess on the player's side.
TPAs were a result of players being upset they couldn't profit from their fame / likeness, which I don't have an issue with at all.

The issue lies in that it's so easy to manipulate TPAs to cheat the salary cap. Hence why I think get rid of it, then players can earn whatever they are worth. But have a system in place to restrict how many top tier players each team can have.
 

DUFFMAN

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Joined
Aug 29, 2005
Messages
1,511
I have always thought a points system cap is better, can't hide points in a second book or on a golf course or cheap property deals.

Clubs would find a way to rort it still but it would be harder.
Every player is in the pool to be picked for rep games, if you decline you are still worth the points as you are classified as a rep player.

No buying juniors and hiding them for 2 or 3 years and saying they are a local kid, first game from under 10s and that is your junior area.

Leave a club early because you are home sick (wish they would tell the truth and say i got offered more $$) than you have a 25% points loading added to you for 2 years.
 

Harry Smith

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Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Messages
4,190
TPAs were a result of players being upset they couldn't profit from their fame / likeness, which I don't have an issue with at all.

The issue lies in that it's so easy to manipulate TPAs to cheat the salary cap. Hence why I think get rid of it, then players can earn whatever they are worth. But have a system in place to restrict how many top tier players each team can have.
True. I hate it as well. Then again re: players upset they couldn't profit from their fame I think it is a different scenario nowadays with the large rise of the salary cap we've seen since TPA's were introduced.

Surely they can introduce as you said some systems to restrict playing squads of teams. If we look back into TPA's (not that they are the only flaw at current) I think there could be a certain size of contract that TPA's are available until. Eg. Max registered contracts allowed to have access to TPA's is 600K or something.

Or perhaps a limit could be placed on how large a TPA can be relative to contract size. Eg. 300K players max 100K extra in TPA's, 600K players max 50K in TPA's etc, with an overall cap on TPA's also to help keep a roof on it and make sure not every 300K player gets x amount extra and every 600K player gets y amount extra.

Fair enough players try make more money but surely no 600K a year player could look you in the eye and complain about their wage. They can throw the 'I only have a ten year career' card but the reality is that for players who make upwards of 500-600K a year (and even 300-400K) they make plenty, can invest in post-career options and set themselves up for life as long as they don't absolutely blow it. It's all excess after that point in my opinion and it is that excess that is really stuffing with the concept of a contract as players just ask for releases to sign for overs elsewhere.
 

Mark from Brisbane

“ Triggered Boomer”
Premium Member
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Messages
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TPAs were a result of players being upset they couldn't profit from their fame / likeness, which I don't have an issue with at all.

The issue lies in that it's so easy to manipulate TPAs to cheat the salary cap. Hence why I think get rid of it, then players can earn whatever they are worth. But have a system in place to restrict how many top tier players each team can have.
I actually agree with this ( and have said it before but possibly not as well articulated as you have ).

****No cap , players can earn whatever a club can afford.

A “ financial assistance “ package from the NRL for circa 10 million per club.

****A points based system so that rich clubs can’t just buy the Australian team and pay them 3 million each.

So sure , Nick Politis wants Tedesco and pays him 5 million.

And he wants Cooper Cronk and pays him 8 million.

BUT then the rest have to fit into X points so he can’t have any more 5 million players.

Yes the rich clubs will always get the best two players , but that’s all!!

AND, they do now anyway !!
 
Last edited:

manlyfan76

Parra Trolls are the best.
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Messages
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TPAs were a result of players being upset they couldn't profit from their fame / likeness, which I don't have an issue with at all.

The issue lies in that it's so easy to manipulate TPAs to cheat the salary cap. Hence why I think get rid of it, then players can earn whatever they are worth. But have a system in place to restrict how many top tier players each team can have.
Andrew John's threatened to go to union, with the inference that his salary was being restricted by the NRL. They bent over for him and opened the gates of third party agreements.
 

47MVEagle

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Mar 28, 2018
Messages
1,486
True. I hate it as well. Then again re: players upset they couldn't profit from their fame I think it is a different scenario nowadays with the large rise of the salary cap we've seen since TPA's were introduced.

Surely they can introduce as you said some systems to restrict playing squads of teams. If we look back into TPA's (not that they are the only flaw at current) I think there could be a certain size of contract that TPA's are available until. Eg. Max registered contracts allowed to have access to TPA's is 600K or something.

Or perhaps a limit could be placed on how large a TPA can be relative to contract size. Eg. 300K players max 100K extra in TPA's, 600K players max 50K in TPA's etc, with an overall cap on TPA's also to help keep a roof on it and make sure not every 300K player gets x amount extra and every 600K player gets y amount extra.

Fair enough players try make more money but surely no 600K a year player could look you in the eye and complain about their wage. They can throw the 'I only have a ten year career' card but the reality is that for players who make upwards of 500-600K a year (and even 300-400K) they make plenty, can invest in post-career options and set themselves up for life as long as they don't absolutely blow it. It's all excess after that point in my opinion and it is that excess that is really stuffing with the concept of a contract as players just ask for releases to sign for overs elsewhere.
I think any attempt to limit what a player can earn in TPAs would be deemed restriction of free trade & fair enough too - if a talented player can make millions on the side via individual sponsorship & TPAs good on him.

That's why I think the idea of no salary cap would work - if you cant control or limit the TPA side of things then what use is a cap?

A points system (as long as it is applied consistently & fairly) would still allow players to earn as much as possible in TPAs but would prevent the likes of Uncle Nick attracting all of the best players supposedly signing for unders because he's supplementing their registered salary with completely untraceable under the counter payments.
 

Mark from Brisbane

“ Triggered Boomer”
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Messages
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I think any attempt to limit what a player can earn in TPAs would be deemed restriction of free trade & fair enough too - if a talented player can make millions on the side via individual sponsorship & TPAs good on him.

That's why I think the idea of no salary cap would work - if you cant control or limit the TPA side of things then what use is a cap?

A points system (as long as it is applied consistently & fairly) would still allow players to earn as much as possible in TPAs but would prevent the likes of Uncle Nick attracting all of the best players supposedly signing for unders because he's supplementing their registered salary with completely untraceable under the counter payments.
The points system looks to be much fairer BUT we know they’d Rort that too!!

The games ****ed I reckon , people will eventually get sick of only 2-3 teams ever winning and start to desert it in droves.

Stupid bastards have no ****ing idea.
 

47MVEagle

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Messages
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The points system looks to be much fairer BUT we know they’d Rort that too!!

The games ****ed I reckon , people will eventually get sick of only 2-3 teams ever winning and start to desert it in droves.

Stupid bastards have no ****ing idea.
Oh for sure, like whenever they introduce a new rule now, coaches are scheming for ways to get around it or find a loophole to use it to their advantage, but I still think a transparent points system would be much fairer & harder to rort than the current salary cap sham.
 

ShakeySeaEagle

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Apr 8, 2015
Messages
197
First of all: Tag Monster; brilliant analysis. Be prepared for this to be plagiarised by so-called 'journalists' -- and I bet you don't get a cent for your research.
Secondly; the notion of fairness in sport went out with amateurism. You can buy success. Let's face it, we did that in the 70s and 80s.
Clubs with successful Leagues Clubs or wealthy benefactors will continue to prosper at the expense of battling clubs like we have become.
100%, with a draft though as a littler market team you can have hope. Just for that 2-3 year period while the rookie is in his first contract, no doubt the larger clubs will still swoop afterwards. Look at the impact Harry Grant had on the Tigers. When your team is not making the finals the best thing for a fan is the roster managing. At the moment it’s always the same Top 4 teams get the best players for reasonable contracts bottom 4 pay inflated prices for potentially good players and like the tigers you end up in a situation with like Mbyes contract. I think a draft and elimination of TPAs would go along way to making it a more competitive comp year in year out.
 

Woodsie

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Feb 13, 2016
Messages
12,207
@TagMonster .. thank you .. excellent read

Just a point ... the Salary Cap was never ever introduced to create a level playing field ... the one and only reason it was ever brought in was to stop numbnut clubs going broke chasing a premiership .. however some clever journo raised the thought that it would also mean a level playing field and that was an easier sell so the narrative continued ..

There Has not been one club official in 112 years that wants a level playing field ... they all want any advantage they can get ... any way they can get it ... and if gambling $2 mil on a 16 year old kid, or $3 mil on a broken down former star .. they will do it .. and why some love the TPA rorts ... and fans need to be saved from crazy CEO's with a 3 year contract to impress ..

The NRL realised with the demise of Newtown, Wests, Norths and almost Souff's that whole generations of fans are lost forever when their clubs fold ...

sorry for the ramble ... but if you want to get rid of the salary cap .. you still need to come up with a plan to stop clubs spending themselves into oblivion chasing the dream ...
 

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