April 23, 2021

A first in the NRL era: The alarming statistic that proves the gap between the best and worst sides has never been bigger

5 min read

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

The National Rugby League prides itself on being the toughest, “closest” sporting competition on the planet but if the first two weeks of the new season proves anything it is that the gap between the sport’s strongest teams and its weakest has never been wider.

No less than five teams have started the 2021 season with an 0-2 record – equalling 1999, 2006 and 2018 seasons.

Six teams have begun with two losses on three separate occasions (2007, 2016 and 2020).

But the most alarming statistic of them all is that the five clubs yet to score a win in 2021 all finished outside the finals in 2020… the biggest number in NRL history.

Four of the five teams (Broncos, Bulldogs, Cowboys and Sea Eagles) placed in the bottom four spots last season while Wests Tigers finished 11th in 2020.

Never, since the inception of the NRL at the end of the 1990’s, has the worst teams one season started so badly the next.

Meaning, in 2021, more of the teams already in the cellar have not bounced back.

Just last year, six sides started 0-2 but only 4 of them came from the bottom half of the previous year’s table.

In 2016, Manly, Panthers, Warriors and Knights missed the 2015 finals and began the following season with two defeats.

‘Not NRL standard’: Wests Tigers couldn’t possibly pick Leilua brothers on the same side of the field ever again

Back in 2007, Just Wests Tigers and the Roosters continued their poor form into the new season.

The five clubs that have begun 2021 with two-straight wins all appeared in September footy last year too.

The bigger clubs are getting stronger while the weak are fading further away.

NRL ERA

2021 FIVE TEAMS HAVE STARTED 0-2
Broncos, Cowboys, Bulldogs, Wests Tigers, Sea Eagles

2020 Result
BRONCOS 16TH
COWBOYS 14TH
BULLDOGS 15TH
SEA EAGLES 13TH
WESTS TIGERS 11TH

1999 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: TWO – MAGPIES AND COWBOYS

BRONCOS (PREMIERS 1998)
SEA EAGLES (FINALS 10TH)
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (FIRST SEASON)
MAGPIES (DEAD LAST 20TH 1998)
COWBOYS (FINISHED 16TH 1998)

2000 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – COWBOYS

EELS (FINISHED 2nd ON LADDER 1999)
STORM (PREMIERS 1999)
BULLDOGS (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 1999)
COWBOYS (FINISHED 17TH ON LADDER 1999)

2001 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ZERO

PANTHERS (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 2000)
STORM (FINISHED 6TH ON LADDER 2000)

2002 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: FOUR – RAIDERS, COWBOYS, NORTHERN EAGLES, PANTHERS

RAIDERS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER 2001)
COWBOYS (FINISHED 13TH ON LADDER 2001)
NORTHERN EAGLES (FINISHED 10TH ON LADDER 2001)
PANTHERS (FINISHED 14TH ON LADDER 2001)

2003 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: TWO – RABBITOHS, PANTHERS

EELS (FINISHED 6TH ON LADDER 2002)
RABBITOHS (FINISHED 14TH ON LADDER 2002)
SHARKS (5TH ON LADDER 2002)
PANTHERS (FINISHED 12TH ON LADDER 2002)

2004 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: TWO – COWBOYS, SHARKS

COWBOYS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER 2003)
SHARKS (FINISHED 12TH ON LADDER 2003)
WARRIORS (FINISHED 6TH ON LADDER 2003)

2005 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – KNIGHTS

DRAGONS (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 2004)
PANTHERS (FINISHED 4TH ON LADDER 2004)
KNIGHTS (FINISHED 10TH ON LADDER 2004)

2006 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: TWO – RABBITOHS, WARRIORS

DRAGONS (FINISHED 2ND ON LADDER 2005)
SEA EAGLES (FINISHED 8TH ON LADDER 2005)
RABBITOHS (FINISHED 13TH ON LADDER 2005)
WARRIORS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER 2005)
SHARKS (FINISHED 7TH ON LADDER 2005)

2007 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: TWO – WESTS TIGERS, ROOSTERS

BRONCOS (PREMIERS 2006)
WESTS TIGERS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER IN 2006)
RAIDERS (FINISHED 7TH ON LADDER IN 2006)
EELS (FINISHED 8TH ON LADDER 2006)
BULLDOGS (FINISHED 2ND ON LADDER 2006)
ROOSTERS (14TH ON LADDER 2006)

2008 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – PANTHERS

COWBOYS (FINISHED 3RD ON LADDER 2007)
RABBITOHS (FINISHED 7TH ON LADDER 2007)
SEA EAGLES (FINISHED AS RUNNERS UP 2007)
PANTHERS (FINISHED 16TH ON LADDER 2007)

2009 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – PANTHERS

SEA EAGLES (FINISHED AS PREMIERS 2008)
PANTHERS (FINISHED 12TH ON LADDER 2008)
RAIDERS (FINISHED 6TH ON LADDER 2008)

2010 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – SHARKS

BULLDOGS (FINISHED 2ND ON LADDER 2009)
SHARKS (FINISHED 15TH ON LADDER 2009)
RABBITOHS (FINISHED 10TH ON LADDER 2009)
SEA EAGLES (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 2009)

2011 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – RABBITOHS

RABBITOHS (FINISHED 9TH ON LADDER 2010)
TITANS (FINISHED 4TH ON LADDER 2010)
WARRIORS (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 2010)

2012 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: THREE – EELS, SHARKS, RABBITOHS

EELS (FINISHED 14TH ON LADDER 2011)
SHARKS (FINISHED 13TH ON LADDER 2011)
RABBITOHS (FINISHED 10TH ON LADDER 2011)

2013 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: TWO – WARRIORS, DRAGONS

WARRIORS (FINISHED 14TH ON LADDER 2012)
DRAGONS (FINISHED 9TH ON LADDER 2012)
RAIDERS (FINISHED 6TH ON LADDER 2012)

2014 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – WARRIORS

KNIGHTS (FINISHED 7TH ON LADDER 2013)
WARRIORS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER 2013)
SHARKS (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 2013)

2015 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: THREE – TITANS, SHARKS, DRAGONS

TITANS (FINISHED 14TH ON LADDER 2014)
COWBOYS (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 2014)
SHARKS (FINISHED 16TH ON LADDER 2014)
DRAGONS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER 2014)

2016 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: FOUR – SEA EAGLES, PANTHERS, WARRIORS, KNIGHTS

SEA EAGLES (FINISHED 9TH ON LADDER 2015)
PANTHERS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER 2015)
WARRIORS (FINISHED 13TH ON LADDER 2015)
KNIGHTS (FINISHED 16TH ON LADDER 2015)
ROOSTERS FINISHED MINOR PREMIERS 2015)
DRAGONS (FINISHED 8TH ON LADDER 2015)

2017 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: ONE – SEA EAGLES

BULLDOGS (FINISHED 7TH ON LADDER 2016)
TITANS (FINISHED 8TH ON LADDER 2016)
RAIDERS (FINISHED 2ND ON LADDER 2016)
SEA EAGLES (FINISHED 13TH ON LADDER 2016)

2018 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: THREE – BULLDOGS, RABBITOHS, RAIDERS

SHARKS (FINISHED 5TH ON LADDER 2017)
BULLDOGS (FINISHED 11TH ON LADDER 2017)
RABBITOHS (FINISHED 12TH ON LADDER 2017)
RAIDERS (FINISHED 10TH ON LADDER 2017)
EELS (FINISHED 4TH ON LADDER 2017)

2019 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: THREE – BULLDOGS, SEA EAGLES, TITANS

DRAGONS (FINISHED 7TH ON LADDER 2018)
BULLDOGS (FINISHED 12TH ON LADDER 2018)
SEA EAGLES (FINISHED 15TH ON LADDER 2018)
TITANS (FINISHED 14TH ON LADDER 2018)

2020 TEAMS THAT WENT 0-2 TO START THE YEAR THAT MISSED FINALS PREVIOUS SEASON: FOUR – BULLDOGS, TITANS, WARRIORS, DRAGONS

BULLDOGS (FINISHED 12TH ON LADDER 2019)
TITANS (FINISHED 16TH ON LADDER 2019)
WARRIORS (FINISHED 13TH ON LADDER 2019)
ROOSTERS (FINISHED AS PREMIERS 2019)
SHARKS (FINISHED 7TH ON LADDER 2019)
DRAGONS (FINISHED 15TH ON LADDER 2019)

@woodward_curtis

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