There are plenty of successful NRL teams — at least plenty that would define themselves as successful. But who are the most successful teams in the NRL over the last two decades?

The most NRL premiership wins in the last 20 years

At first glance, working out who has the best NRL Premiership win record in the last two decades is simple. Just go back over each of the last 20 seasons and find the winner of the Grand Final.

By this logic, the most successful team over this period is Melbourne Storm, who have been crowned Premiers four times since 2000. 

But, there is a flaw here. 

In 2007 and 2009, Storm were crowned Premiers, but then had this accolade taken away from them after it was found that they were in breach of transfer cap rulings and had their titles stripped. It was decided that — instead of giving the title to the runner-up in the Grand Final — the title would simply be withheld, so there was no official winner in those two seasons.

This brings the Melbourne Storm total down to two Premier wins, tying them with the Manly Sea Eagles in second place. With this revised total, we see that the Sydney Roosters are the most successful NRL team over the two decades, with three official wins.

The most NRL minor premiership wins in the last 20 years

The NRL has a regular season and a Grand Final playoff tournament. The winner of the regular, league-based season is awarded the Minor Premiership. 

The team to come top of the ladder in regular season is, once again, Melbourne Storm, with seven titles. However, once again, three of those titles were stripped because of salary cap breaches, leaving us with a grand total of four titles.

This puts the Roosters in first place with five Minor Premiership wins, including three in a row between 2013 and 2015.

The only other teams to have won a Minor Premiership more than once in the past 20 years are the Parramatta Eels and the St. George Illawarra Dragons, with two each.

Winners and losers over the last two decades

Between the Brisbane Broncos’ win in 2000 and the Melbourne Storm’s win in 2020, 18 Premiership titles have been awarded to 12 different teams.

This means that the following teams have all tasted glory in the Grand Final — beginning with the earliest:

  • Brisbane Broncos
  • Newcastle Knights
  • Sydney Roosters
  • Penrith Panthers
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
  • Wests Tigers
  • Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
  • St. George Illawarra Dragons
  • Melbourne Storm
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs
  • North Queensland Cowboys
  • Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

For the Minor Premiership title, the list is a little shorter, as 17 awarded titles have been shared between eight teams.

These are the winning teams (earliest first):

  • Brisbane Broncos
  • Parramatta Eels
  • New Zealand Warriors
  • Penrith Panthers
  • Sydney Roosters
  • St. George Illawarra Dragons
  • Melbourne Storm
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

So, teams like the Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors enjoy the dubious status of having won the regular season but having never lifted the Premiership. Meanwhile, the Knights, the Tigers, the Sea Eagles, the Rabbitohs, the Cowboys and the Sharks can all feel a bit better about themselves — having lifted the title without winning the regular season, at least in the past 20 years.

But this leaves us with an important question: which NRL team has never won a Premiership or a Minor Premiership in two decades? Unfortunately, there are only two names on this list, and they are as follows:

  •  Canberra Raiders
  • Gold Coast Titans

Now, to be fair on the Titans, they were only officially founded in 2007, which means their competitors in the league have a head start on them. It is also important to point out that the Canberra Raiders did reach a Grand Final in 2019, losing out to their NSW neighbours, Sydney Roosters.

The NRL before 2000

Of course, we should leave you with a quick caveat. Rugby League has a long history in Australia, and of course many national titles have been won and lost over the years. 

Across the league’s 113-year history, the most successful NRL teams are the Rabbitohs with 21 Premierships and the Sydney Roosters with 20 Minor Premierships. The Dragons even won an astonishing 11 titles in a row between 1956 and 1967.

Will any of these records be added to this year? Is it time for Canberra and Gold Coast to get their hands on a trophy — what do you think?