The NRL Match-Up: How do the wooden spooners fare in the following season?

Posted: 9 May 2019 2:52 pm

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We see how well teams bounce back after ending up in bottom spot.

With the NRL back bigger and better than ever, we thought we'd do what we do best at Finder and start comparing everything NRL. Each week we take a look at one aspect of the game, from the spectacular to the silly, to see who comes out on top.

Before the Titans kick off Magic Round against the Sharks, we take a look at how the wooden spooners have fared in the NRL era.

Finder's Thursday Night Football – Gold Coast Titans vs Cronulla Sharks, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium

Nowhere on the planet is the concept of the wooden spoon more celebrated than in Australian sport and the NRL is no exception.

Finishing the season bottom of the pack is something no fan or player wants, but how do clubs generally perform the following year?

Eels dejected NRL Image: Supplied


Of the 20 sides who have suffered the ignominy of the NRL wooden spoon between 1998 and 2018, their fortunes the following season have been a mixed bag.

Over this period, 5 teams have finished bottom again the following season, with the Newcastle Knights the only side to manage 3 in a row between 2015 and 2017.

However, six teams have finished in the Top 8 after ending the previous season in last place, meaning sides that finish last have a better chance of playing finals football than taking back-to-back wooden spoons the following year.

This will be encouraging news for Eels fans, whose side's form so far this season looks likelier to see them end up in the Top 8 than with consecutive wooden spoons.

In the NRL era, no team has ever managed to win the Premiership after finishing last the year before, although the Roosters did make the grand final in 2010, after winning the wooden spoon the previous season.

Only 2 sides have won the premiership within 2 years of coming last, first the Panthers in 2003, then the Sharks in 2016.

Titans dejected NRL Image: Supplied


Here's where a team is likely to end the year after winning the wooden spoon, based on how they've fared since 1998*:

Average Position: 11th

Chance of Top 4: 15.8% (3/19)

Chance of Top 8: 31.5% (6/19)

Chance of wooden spoon: 26.3% (5/19)

*For the purpose of these probabilities, we're excluding Melbourne's last place finish in 2010 due to their points deduction.

Most wooden spoons in the NRL era

4 - Newcastle Knights

3 - Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs

2 - Penrith Panthers, Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Only 5 of the current 16 clubs have never finished bottom in the NRL era: West Tigers, St. George Illawarra Dragons, New Zealand Warriors, Brisbane Broncos and Manly Sea Eagles.

Dejected Roosters NRL Image: Supplied

Wooden spoon winners

Year Wooden spooners Next season's position
1998 Western Suburbs Magpies Last (20th)
1999 Western Suburbs Magpies 10th (of 14)*
2000 North Queensland Cowboys 13th (of 14)
2001 Penrith Panthers 12th (of 15)
2002 Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 3rd (of 15)
2003 South Sydney Rabbitohs Last (15th)
2004 South Sydney Rabbitohs 13th (of 15)
2005 Newcastle Knights 4th (of 15)
2006 South Sydney Rabbitohs 7th (of 16)
2007 Penrith Panthers 12th (of 16)
2008 Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 2nd (of 16)
2009 Sydney Roosters 6th (of 16)
2010 Melbourne Storm** 1st (of 16)
2011 Gold Coast Titans 11th (of 16)
2012 Parramatta Eels Last (16th)
2013 Parramatta Eels 10th (of 16)
2014 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6th (of 16)
2015 Newcastle Knights Last (16th)
2016 Newcastle Knights Last (16th)
2017 Newcastle Knights 11th (of 16)
2018 Parramatta Eels ?

*As the Wests Tigers **Due to points deduction

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