Dolphins' historic move leaves rugby league world divided

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Peter V'landys, left, and Andrew Abdo, right, have explained the NRL's motives behind naming the new team the Dolphins.
ARLC boss Peter V'landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo have explained the rationale behind naming the new expansion team, the Dolphins. Pictures: Getty Images

With the rugby league world having had a few days now to let the addition of the Dolphins to the NRL to sink in, most only have one big question left.

Why on earth have they decided against naming the team to reflect its Redcliffe roots?

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The reveal that the team would only be known by the Dolphins name was met with bemusement in some corners of the league world.

The Dolphins made dropping the Redcliffe name from the club part of their pitch, a nuance later revealed to have been done at the encouragement of the NRL.

Part of the club's winning bid was being able to show an ability to grow the game, with Dolphins bid director Terry Reader saying it had been a 'careful' decision.

"That was something we did as part of our pitch and when you think about it, Brisbane is bigger than the CBD now,” Reader told Fox Sports.

“Moreton Bay is the third-biggest council area in Australia and the fourth biggest is the Sunshine Coast - nearly 900,000 people live in that corridor before you get to Brisbane.

“So we had to be careful about how we name it because we don’t want to alienate anyone and we want to make sure we have the biggest reach."

While the move to add another team to the league from 2023 has generally been welcomed by fans, the moniker has certainly left some fans scratching their heads.

Many felt the team needed some sort of location for fans to connect with - but Reader said teams like the South Sydney Rabbitohs had shown the way forward.

“When you think about it - you think about South Sydney, and our Dolphin will be on our jersey with no words like the (Souths) bunny which is everywhere now," he said.

“We’ve worked with a really good brand agency who do stuff with some of the biggest companies in the world.

“The Bunnies have done it - their logo is just the white bunny.”

Critics still aren't necessarily convinced, especially since the Dolphins will retain the Redcliffe prefix in junior competition and Q-Cup.

NRL confirms the Dolphins join the league as 17th team

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed the new club would join the Warriors in not having a geographical label, in a bid to appeal to a larger area.

"It's the Dophins. That's what we decided together," Abdo said.

"That is part of the discussions we had with them very recently.

"It's important for us we have a say in this because this is about the growth of the game and we want an overall strategic lens to this."

It comes as part of the footprint the Dolphins will try and establish in their early seasons, as well as leaving the Broncos as the sole team with "Brisbane" as a name.

The NRL claim research shows there are 200,000 rugby league fans with no affiliation to a club in Queensland, while the ratio of teams to population is well down compared to NSW and Victoria.

Data also showed the northern corridor is expected to go from 800,000 to 1.1 million over the next decade.

Wayne Bennett has been announced as the head coach of NRL expansion team the Dolphins, starting from 2023. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Wayne Bennett has been announced as the head coach of NRL expansion team the Dolphins, starting from 2023. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The club will play seven home blockbusters at Suncorp Stadium as well as matches in Redcliffe, to the north-east of the city, and on the Sunshine Coast.

They will also attempt to build links with the Central Queensland Capras in the Queensland Cup, with a clear $2 million pathways system in the men's, women's and Indigenous space part of the bid.

"What we have seen in the research is people are receptive to a city rivalry," Abdo said.

"We will have an important rivalry with the Broncos, in terms of an inner-city rivalry.

"But now more importantly we have four QLD teams, that opens up 12 rivalry matches for us.

"It also sets up rivalries with the Cowboys and Titans. That's why I think the Dolphins as a name is more appropriate."

Abdo also insisted no current teams would lose out financially, with NRL grants expected to increase slightly from 2023.

With AAP

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