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The Roar



Bears bid looks beyond Sydney, but should go west

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Roar Guru
28th October, 2021
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Ever since their ill-fated merger with the Manly Sea Eagles at the end of 1999, the North Sydney Bears have harboured desires to return to the top level of the National Rugby League.

The initial bid (Central Coast Bears) lost out to the Gold Coast Titans in 2005 and although they have constantly put their foot forward, they have been knocked back every time.

That’s not to say that Norths haven’t tried other ways to get back in too. In 2016, the club launched a bid to takeover the then struggling Gold Coast Titans.

The bid was to see the Titans renamed as the ‘Gold Coast Bears’, have their colours changed to red and black and play a home game each year at North Sydney Oval. The ultimately unsuccessful bid was likened to the relocation of VFL side South Melbourne to Sydney in 1982.

In 2018, a proposal for the Bears to merge with the Perth NRL bid and become the Western Bears was also put forward, however nothing came of that.

Now the Bears have launched the latest incarnation of their bid to return to the topflight. The bid is simply ‘The Bears’ with no geographical fixation, following the lead by the NRL’s newest club, the Dolphins.

If successful, they plan to be based at North Sydney, taking roughly have of their matches to regional centres, including Gosford, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, and Wagga Wagga.

This bid seems more unlikely than any of the previous. The NRL should be looking to expand, and another team based in Sydney is not the way to go about it. The places most people are mentioning for the 18th NRL team are New Zealand, Adelaide, and of course, Perth.


It’s well worth the Bears efforts to reconsider relocating to Perth, for a number of reasons. For starters, there is an appetite for a Perth-based team. They would garner plenty of support on the west coast from old and new fans.

They would also have plenty of away games in Sydney for their old fans to attend. A club with as much as history as the Bears would have no trouble attracting corporate support, which would help their bid immensely.

They already have a similar colour scheme to both the defunct Western Reds and active West Coast Pirates bids.

Perth also has a surprisingly strong local competition and good pathways for male and female players, arguably even stronger than Melbourne, with the aforementioned Pirates even competing in the SG Ball Cup prior to Covid-19 restrictions.

(Photo by Getty Images)

The Sydney Swans relocation was mentioned during the Gold Coast Bears proposal but would make even more sense if the Bears were to move to Perth.


A long-suffering foundation club relocates outside the heartland for a new beginning. The difference is the Swans were looking to an unknown market with minimal prospects.

The Bears in Perth would be better backed by fans and financially, as well as having a better-known brand.

There are plenty of old Bears fans in Sydney crying out for their team back, plenty of fans in Perth who want some footy and plenty of new fans just waiting to be converted.

A west coast relocation is the only way the Bears can ever return to the NRL. If they make the right moves now, when the NRL makes the likely move to 18 teams in a few years, they won’t be able to look past the Western Bears.