Everything you need to know about Penrith Panthers NRL

Penrith Panthers NRL
Tyrone Peachey. Photo: radar286/flickr, Wikimedia Commons

The Penrith Panthers are a professional rugby league football team from Australia that is based in Penrith, which is a suburb in Western Sydney. Penrith is around 55 km west of the Sydney CBD and are is a suburb located close to the Blue Mountains. The club plays in the national rugby league (NRL) premiership. The club has more than 50 years of history on the field. They historically struggled with success in the competition, although they have achieved some memorable wins over the decades. The club has had a few eras of consistent success, followed by periods of poorer form. The Penrith Panthers remain an iconic team to this day.

Founded

The Penrith Panthers joined the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) competition in 1967. Several rugby teams had played in the Penrith area for many years between 1912 and 1966, but by 1966 they had merged into a single team. The club became known as the Penrith Panthers in 1964. They became one three teams to compete for a spot after it was announced that the NSWRL was looking to add two new teams to its lineup in 1966. After Cronulla-Sutherland received their slot, the team was left to battle it out with the Wentworthville Magpies.

NRL - Penrith Panthers
Kieren Moss. Photo: Naparazzi-Flickr, Wikimedia Commons

Notable Achievements

The club struggled for their first 30 years after entering the competition, eventually earning their first Grand Final appearance in 1990, although they lost the match to the Canberra Raiders. They returned for a rematch the following year, facing off against the Raiders once again but this time winning the 1991 Grand Final.

The clubs most recent premiership win was during the 2003 season, when they won the Grand Final against the Sydney Roosters, despite being expected to lose the game.

Some notable players records for the club includes Nathan Clearly, who received the most points for a match for the club during the 2019 season with 34 points in their round 25 game.

Their biggest win margin was a 72-12 game against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in 2004.

Club Earnings

The Penrith Panthers lost $6 million in 2018 and are said to have some of the highest player salaries for the competition. The club took a hit in 2018 when they paid out former coach Anthony Griffin’s contract ahead of hiring Ivan Cleary. Like many of the NRL clubs, the club gets some financial support from their leagues club. The Panthers required a $5.9 million cash injection to break even in 2018. The club also makes some profits from merchandise, food, beverages, tickets and broadcasting like many of the other NRL clubs.

Home Ground

The current home ground of the Penrith Panthers is the Panthers stadium. The Penrith Panthers stadium has been the home of the rugby football club since they first entered the competition in 1967. The stadium currently has a capacity of 22,500, following a redevelopment in the 1980s and more recently in 2006 which reconfigured the stadium to be suitable for rugby league. A new scoreboard was installed more recently in 2010.

Coach

Ivan Cleary is the current head coach of the Penrith Panthers, he is former professional rugby league player and was previously the head coach of the Wests Tigers.

Emblem and Colours

Penrith originally used blue and white in their jersey designs, but due to several other teams using predominantly blue jerseys, the club went in search of an alternative colour scheme. The club decided to change their colours to brown and white which gained them the nickname the ‘Chocolate Soldiers’. The club were known as the Panthers from the seventies. The club changed their jerseys to a black, white, red, yellow and green design in 1991 which gained them another nickname, Liquorice Allsorts. They changed jerseys again in 1997 and removed the yellow colour from the design. In 2000 they updated their colours to be black, red, teal and white. Later in 2004, they changed the design again to a black, white and brown design before adding a new ‘away’ jersey the following year which is predominantly white. In 2007 the club added a new home jersey which was mainly black with grey claw marks on the front and back of the jersey. In 2010 the club launched an away jersey with teal as the dominant colour and dropped rust red as a colour. In 2011 the club introduced a new alternate jersey. In 2017 the Panthers reverted to the Liquorice Allsorts jersey from the 90’s.

Over the course of their history, the Penrith Panthers have worn over 50 different jerseys. The clubs logo features a panther. The logo has also gone through a number of different evolutions over the decades.

Mascot

The Penrith Panthers mascot is known as ‘Claws’, a black panther. The mascot regularly appears at home games and Penrith Panther’s events.

Supporters

The Penrith Panthers have a strong supporter base and have had a number of major sponsors over the years. Past sponsors include FEENEY, Alpha Micro, Radio 2KA, Penrith City, Calphos, Dahdah Uniforms, Prospect Electricity, Classifieds, Sanyo and currently OAK Milk. The club is also supported by 6 licensed leagues club around NSW, which provides major financial support to the club.

The club also has a number of notable supporters, including popular Australian celebrities. A few vocal, well-known fans include Cricketer Jason Arnberger, soccer player Tim Cahill, Surfer Mick Fanning and Journalist Tim Gilbert.

History

Different Penrith teams had been playing in the district for many years prior to the Penrith Panthers entry into the NSWRL competition in 1967. The Penrith Panthers won their place after battling it out for a spot in the league against two other teams, the Wentworthville Magpies and Cronulla-Sutherland.

After being admitted to the competition in 1967, they came second last in their inaugural year. The club struggled for a time due to inexperienced players. The Panthers had built up a stronger team line up in the 80s and began to gain momentum in the competition. They reached their first final series in 1985 and finally reached their first Grand Final game in 1990, they were beaten by the Canberra Raiders. They faced the Canberra Raiders again the following year and took home their first Grand Final win. The struggled the following year however, after star player Greg Alexander’s brother was killed in a car accident, which result in Greg and two other close personal friends leaving the club. They did not win the finals again until 1997 when they made the Super League finals. They made the finals again 2000 but lost the semi-final to the Parramatta Eels. The following year, the Penrith Panthers came last on the competition ladder. They made their way to the 2003 NRL grand final and won against the Roosters. The club made it to the finals the following year but was knocked out ahead of the Grand Final qualifier by the Bulldogs. The Penrith Panthers failed to make the top 8 in 2005. The following two years were also below average and the club failed to reach the finals. They ended 2007 with a wooden spoon. The clubs performance improved in the following two years, although they failed to make a top 8 spot. In 2010 the Penrith Panthers finished in second place on the ladder, but they were knocked out in the finals round. The next two years, 2011 and 2012 were disappointing years for the Penrith Panthers and saw the Panther’s board making the decision to cut ties with coach Matthew Elliot. The Panthers did not have a good start to the year in 2013, but they managed to make it into 10th place.

In 2014 the Penrith Panthers qualified for the finals, but were knocked out in the preliminary round by the Bulldogs. The club celebrated their 50th year in 2016 and then in 2017 they made it to the finals. The Panthers finished in 5th place for 2018, and faced off for the first time against Cronulla-Sutherland in a finals match. Both team were admitted to the competition at the same time in 1967 and so the tight match was watched eagerly by fans. In 2018 the Penrith Panthers got off to a bad start and fell short of making the finals for the first time since 2015.

Trainings

The Penrith Panthers on occasion will hold open training sessions for their members and fans to attend. It’s a chance to see their favourite players in action, get an autograph or see what goes on behind the scenes at trainings.

Community interaction

The Penrith Panthers club takes great pride in supporting community organisations. The club runs a number of programs such as the ‘Panther on the Prowl’ program which are designed to benefit the community. The Panthers on the prowl program is an access program that aims to promote healthy lifestyles and to help at risk students, who might otherwise disengage from school. The program had been responsible for helping over 25,000 since the year 2000. The club supports children’s issue through a number of different program, and annually donates approximately $100,000 to children’s causes. The Penrith Panthers have ties to over 250 schools around Western Sydney and currently reach more than 6000 students around Sydney. Their junior rugby league club has more than 9,000 players. The nursery for the rugby league is the largest in the nation.

The club also engages in a number of community programs designed to support the Western Sydney community. The club aims to support programs around social inclusion, education, engagement and health. The Panther’s also take part in the Adopt-a-school program which involves Panther players visiting local schools and getting involved in school activities, sporting clinics, assemblies and other activities. Each player visits their allocated school once per month. Every student gets a ticket to home game, stationary, posters and other prizes associated with the program.

The club also runs a program known as Stick to Stadium which aims to inspire indigenous youth from communities around Australia. The program involves sponsoring indigenous kids in a visit to Pnrith for a once in a lifetime experience with the Panthers team. The vsisit includes accommodation, fitness sessions, a home game, meals, academy tours, a visit to Muru Mittigar, all meals and a trip to the Rugby League central museum.

The club also sponsors a program called Born to be a Panther, which is program for new born children at the Nepean Hospital and the Blacktown and Blue Mountains hospital which includes a complimentary supporter pack for fans that includes a number of baby items such a bib, teddy bair, beanie and signed birth certificate.

Penrith Panthers junior players are given excellent opportunities to interact with professional Panther’s player during a number of different clinics held throughout the seasons.

The clinics, hosted by professional players, include drills and games that teach the team important basic skills such as passing, kicking, tackling and catching. The clinics involved up to 200 participants at any one time and are always popular with young players.

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