The Melbourne Storm, with these actions, stood their ground concerning their commitment to publicly honour the 2007 and 2009 premierships that were annulled by the NRL due to detected salary cap breaches.
As part of their 25th anniversary, they sought to acknowledge the victories of yesteryears, hosting a pre-game ceremony brimming with past successes before they took on Parramatta. The spotlight was on their six premiership victories, represented by the trophies from 1999, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017 and 2020.
Emblematic processions of the replicas took place, with the 2007 trophy borne by Matt Geyer and Anthony Quinn, while Greg Inglis and Dallas Johnson shouldered the 2009 honour. It should be noted that these particular seasons are void in the NRL‘s official list of championship winners.
The punishment the Storm faced post their 2009 triumph over Parramatta was a harsh blow, with a $1.7 million salary cap breach uncovered. However, following an audit by Deloitte, the figure was reported to have escalated to $3.17 million.
As a result, the NRL rescinded both the 2007 and the 2009 championships, three minor premierships and imposed a $500,000 fine on the club. The Storm were required to repay $1.1 million in prize winnings and were also barred from accruing points during the remainder of the 2010 season.
Despite these penalties, Manly and Parramatta, the teams that faced defeat in these grand finals, were not recognised as premiers.
The Storm took some serious flak on social media platforms, with accusations of arrogance and cheating circling the club in response to their celebrations. One commentator sarcastically quipped: “Should have asked Lance Armstrong to come out and carry his 7 Tour de France titles.” Armstrong has in fact been shamed for his confession of using performance-enhancing drugs during his consecutive Tour victories from 1999 to 2005.
David Gallop, NRL Chief Executive during that period, refrained from commenting on the club’s public stance on Saturday.
On Saturday, Justin Rodski, the current Chief Executive of the Storm, insisted that overlooking the two controversial titles had never crossed the club’s mind. He asserted that they wished to acknowledge the accomplishments of the respective teams of 2007 and 2009. Rodski added that despite the official sanction, the 25-year anniversary marking was the right occasion to honour the teams’ and players’ contributions.
The team’s emphatic 46-16 victory against Parramatta on Friday, helmed by Jahrome Hughes, has bookmakers tipping them for what could be their fifth or seventh premiership win this season, depending on who you ask.