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League becomes Australia's top sport

Published: 6:44AM Monday December 21, 2009 Source: Newstalk ZB

Rugby League has overtaken Australian Rules Football as the most popular sporting code in Australia.

Nearing the end of a year in which the code has tested the patience of punters and administrators with a litany of off-field misdemeanours, comes potentially the greatest sign that the game is more popular than ever.

For the first time ever, league has outrated AFL according to official numbers around the country.

In 2009, rugby league claimed an aggregate television audience on free-to-air and pay-TV of 128.5 million compared to AFL's 124.3 million.

The figures take into account all fixtures televised, including rugby league's State of Origin series as well as the AFL's pre-season NAB Cup.