The Wests Tigers are a professional rugby league football team from Australia. The club is based in the Inner West and Western Suburbs of Sydney. They have been competitors in the national rugby league – NRL since the clubs inception. The Wests Tigers are one of the more recent entrants to the league, and since their formation at the end of the 90s have won themselves a passionate fan base and achieved some impressive feats on the field.
The West Tigers were first created after the end of the 1999 NRL season. The team was formed as a joint-venture between the Balmain Tigers and the Western Suburbs Magpies. The team first made their debut on the field during the 2000 NRL season.
The Wests Tigers have had a number of notable achievements on the field since their debut. In 2005 the club won their maiden premiership. They have not made it to a premiership since but they have made several Grand Final appearances and have the distinction of having never lost a Grand Final that they have participated in – they are one of only two teams to have achieved this feat. The club reached their 20th year in 2019 ad celebrated the merger. The team has a number of notable individual player records as well, including Robbie Farah who has had the most appearances for the club (277). The clubs highest point scorer is Benji Marshall who has scored 1144 for the Wests Tigers.
The Wests Tigers were formed as part of a joint venture and the ownership of the club is therefore portioned out between three registered clubs, those being the Western Suburbs Leagues Club, the Balmain Tigers Rugby League Football Club and the Western Suburbs District Rugby League Club. The Western Suburbs Leagues club is the clubs main financier, outside of the revenue the club received from NRL merchandise, broadcasting and financial backing. The Balmain Tigers Rugby League Football Club was one of the founding clubs of the Wests Tigers, the club was a competitor in NSWRL for 110 years prior to the formation of the Wests Tigers. The Leagues club is located in Rozelle and has been in operation since 1957. The club was the site of the celebration party thrown in the wake of the Wests Tiger 2005 premiership win. The Western Suburbs Magpies were one of the founding clubs of the NSWRL and were first established in 1908 and are also involved in the Wests Tigers venture. The club has been profitable in recent years, posting a $100,000 profit in 2018, a considerably better result than the clubs $4.6 million loss in 2016.
The Wests Campbelltown club previously had a stake in the West Tigers, but the club no longer has a place on the board of the West Tigers or makes any financial contribution to the club.
The Wests Tigers home ground is current Leichhardt Oval in Balmain as well as Campbelltown Stadium and Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, which the club have agreed to play four games at each year, as of 2019. The clubs has always had split home grounds because the joint venture draws from a number of different supporter bases, including Balmain and the Western Suburbs. Between 2004 and 2006 the club played home games at AMI stadium against the New Zealand Warriors. The club also played home games at Allianz stadium between 2009 and 2013 and ANZ stadium between 2005 and 2008 and then again between 2014 and 2018.
The Wests Tigers current head coach is Michael Maguire, a previous professional rugby league player who played for the Canberra Raiders. Michael Maguire has seen his club meet a number of goals under his leadership, including a 2010 premiership win when he was coaching the Wigan Warriors.
Emblem and Colours
The Wests Tigers name and logo was chosen as a combination of the two partner clubs that went in together on the joint venture. The club uses jersey colours that are a combination of the black and white uniform that the Magpies uses, and the black and gold colours of the Balmain Tigers. Their logo includes a Tiger and a Wests ‘V’ in the background. Their jersey includes a magpie on the sleeves.
The Wests Tigers mascot is known as Timmy the tiger.
The Wests Tigers have a number of notable supporters including Jimmy Barnes, Ash Barty, Tim Cahill, Michael Clark, Anthony Field, Dawn Fraser, Julie Goodwin and Jordan Thompson. The club also has a number of major sponsors including Brydens Lawyers, Neds, Allied Express. Victoria Bitter, Ticketek, Chemist Warehouse, Handy Finance, Organica, MAS Concrete, Bradcorp, TripleM, Mills Civil, Digital8, Sports Master, Secom Technology and Ultra refrigeration just to name a few.
The club was formed following the 1999 as a part of a joint venture. The Wests Tigers initially recruited head coach Wayne Pearce, and Jarrod McCracken was named captain. The clubs debut match was played against the Brisbane Broncos at Campbelltown, after the club were denied a place at Stadium Australia. Their first match was played against the Brisbane Broncos. Player John Skandalis scored the clubs first ever try. The club was a surprise for NRL fans as they managed to stay on top of the ladder for the majority of the year, sitting in second place for most of the season. A loss to the Penrith Panthers and Canberra Raiders, and a number of mid to late season injuries saw the team fall out of the top 8. The clubs captain Jarrod McCracken was taken out in a game against Melbourne Storm after a spear tackle, which didn’t help the team’s case. Impressively, Joel Caine managed to claim the seasons spot as the top-point scorer in the competition. The following year was not a good season for the club and involved a number of off the field incidents and the loss of Coach Wayne Pearce. Terry Lamb was appointed in his place which was not received well by Balmain fans, whom had a grudge against the coach following an incident during the 1988 Grand Final.
At the start of the 2001 season, the club suffered the loss of two important players, Craig Field and Kevin McGuiness who both tested positive for prohibited drug use and were hand on-year suspensions. There was another player suspension later in the year after John Hopoate earned himself global notoriety for inserting his finger into the anus of players of opposing teams. Hopoate received a suspension from rugby league and quit the Wests Tigers. Terry Lamb received criticism for his lack of condemnation of Hopoate’s actions. Terry Lamb’s coaching contract was not renewed ahead of the 2003 season and Tim Sheens eventually took up the role, after the job was offered to Craig Bellamy and Ian Millward. The coach selection was again not well received as Tim Sheens had most recently been fired from his coaching position as the North Queensland Cowboys head coach.
The 2003 season saw a number of notable new players emerge in the team as the club began to focus on developing junior talent rather than star player signings. Benji Marshall was one such notable player. Benji Marshall made his debut against the Newcastle Knights and proved to be a prodigy. The club made great improvements in 2004 with notable signings including Brett Hodgson and Pat Richards. The clubs missed the play-offs by a single victory during the 2004 season. The following year was the clubs best season yet, seeing the club make it to the finals for the very first time and take out their first Grand Final win. The club also set attendance records at three different home grounds. At Capbelltown stadium they attracted a crowd of 20,527 spectators, whilst a match at Telstra Stadium was watched by 29,542 and additional they had 22,877 spectators watch a game at Leichhardt Oval. The club initially started off slow in 2005, and was only rated as having a 150-1 chance of winning the premiership at the start of the season. However, the club caught up in the latter half of the season with eight consecutive wins in a row. The clubs first ever final was played against the North Queensland Cowboys. They won the game 50-6 in a match played in front of a number of passionate fans. The club won the Grand Final game with 30-16 win, securing the club a coveted place as one of the few clubs to have won a premiership during their first finals outing. The same feat had not been achieved for more than 100 years. At the end of their winning season, the club managed to secure the sponsorship of car manufacturer Proton with a new million dollar deal.
After their premiership win the club experienced the loss of several important players including Mark O’Niell and Pat Richards. The club signed up a number of new players however including former Bulldogs player Jamaal Lolesi and Keith Galloway from the Cronulla Sharks.
As the club was defending a premiership win, they started the year off playing against the Super League champions, the Bradford Bulls. The club lost the game and then struggled in a match against St. George Illawarra. The club suffered with a number of players out of the game for much of the season due to injuries, including key players Benji Marshall and Brett Hodgson.
The club narrowly missed out on making the finals for the 2006 season but did manage to debut a number of impressive players including Chris Lawrence and Dean Collis. The club struggled in 2007 and finished without a Grand final appearance, the next two years was much the same. In 2010 the club missed out on a finals appearance by a single point. The club made the smei finals during the 2011 season, but lost in a match against the New Zealand Warriors.
From 2012 onward the club suffered a slump in their form, following the restructure of the team. The club finished towards the bottom of the ladder for four consecutive years. They recovered slightly in 2016 but failed to make it into the top 8. They finished with the wooden spoon in 2017. The club did better in 2019, finishing in 9th place. They again finished in 9th place in 2019, making it the 6th time in the clubs history that they had finished in 9th place.
The Wests Tigers sometimes hold open trainings where it is possible for fans and members of the club to go down and support the team, watch them prepare for upcoming matches and sometimes even interact with the players or get autographs from them. Open training sessions are usually advertised by the club online through social media, member communications and via their website. Open trainings are usually held in the lead up to home games for the team.