In defence of Wests Tigers

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Last weekend the Wests Tigers had their first opportunity to feature in the finals since 2011. All they required was a win against Cronulla at a packed Leichhardt Oval. They would also be fuelled by the fact it would be the last home game of Robbie Farah's career.

Farah himself even made an impossible recovery from a leg fracture to line up on the bench.

What transpired was the Tigers doing what the Tigers do - fall at the last hurdle.

It also saw one clickbait article suggest, that while the Titans and Manly are constantly being tossed up whenever the relocation debate rears its head, that the Wests Tigers should also be in the discussion.

The reason? The fact the Titans have appeared in a finals series since the Tigers last did, coupled with reference to a rumour about one disgruntled player.

Yes the article was clickbait. Yes it wants this sort of response to justify its existence. But if rubbish like that isn't pulled up and corrected, then clickbait garbage will continue to pollute our news media. Ignoring it does nothing.

The article spoke at length about the Tigers foibles in recent years, nearly all of which are not up for debate. But then came the line from nowhere:

The NRL is currently reviewing the game's footprint as they determine what sort of shape they want the competition to take in years to come.

Fingers have been pointed at Manly and Cronulla. So too the Gold Coast. Yet the game's greatest underachievers for the past decade have been the Tigers.

The author has set the narrative right here and then formulated an agenda around it. They then took to social media to backtrack, with comments such as:

  • "I am merely saying the Tigers are massive underachievers"
  • "At no point did I say the Tigers should be relocated"
  • "If we're talking relocation for Titans, Tigers should be in chat."
  • "I don't believe the Tigers should relocate but they have been no better than the Titans for the past 9 years."

That last one is very contentious indeed and needs to be called out. The term "no better" has no ambiguity. It is clear. Yet the facts show a much different story.

Ladder Position - Over the last 9 seasons the Tigers have finished higher than the Titans on 6 occasions. The three times the Titans were higher: 2016 (Titans 8th on 27 Pts, Tigers 9th on 26 Pts), 2015 (Titans 14th on 22 Pts, Tigers 15th on 20 Pts) and 2013 (Titans 9th on 26 Pts, Tigers 15th on 18 Pts).

Average Home Crowds - The Tigers have had a higher home crowd figure than the Titans in 6 of the 9 seasons again. The Titans have had an average crowd of 15,000 or more just once, back in 2011. The Tigers have managed to surpass this mark in 5 of the 9 years, including the last 2 seasons.

Memberships - The worst of the comparisons for the Titans. Since 2015 they've had more members than the Tigers once, in 2015. However the Titans membership numbers in 2018 and 2019 combined are still 1,454 less than the Tigers 2019 total.

There are other telling statistics too. From 2011-19 The Titans have used 122 players compared to the Tigers 113 and even more telling is the over win% for both teams over the last 9 years:

Wests Tigers 93 wins from 218 games at 42.66%

Gold Coast Titans 75 wins from 217 games at 34.56%

Sure, the Tigers aren't great, but to say they are "no better" than the Titans is absurdly wrong. If the "underperforming" Tigers dominate the Titans this much across on-field results, crowds and memberships then the Titans are a special type of poor and calls for them to be relocated to southern Brisbane are more than justified.