The St George Illawarra Dragons is an Australian professional rugby league football club, representing both the St. George region of Sydney and the Illawarra region of New South Wales. The club has competed in the National Rugby League since 1999 after a joint-venture was formed between the St. George Dragons (est. 1921) and the Illawarra Steelers (est. 1982). They officially formed as the game’s first joint-venture club on 23 September 1998 and remain the only cross-city team in the NRL. The team has its headquarters and leagues clubs in both Wollongong and the Sydney suburb of Kogarah, and train and play games regularly at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, as well as at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah.
The Dragons reached the Grand final in their first season in 1999, losing to the Melbourne Storm. The St. George Illawarra Dragons also field teams in local competitions within the St. George and Illawarra regions. In 2010, the Dragons won their second successive minor premiership and became the only team to be awarded the J. J. Giltinan Shield consecutively since the NRL was formed in 1998.
The Dragons won the 2010 NRL Grand Final against the Sydney Roosters, defeating them 32–8 at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. They then won the 2011 World Club Challenge, defeating the Wigan Warriors 21–15 at DW Stadium in the UK. With its World Club Challenge victory, the club became the first Australian team since the Brisbane Broncos in 1992-3 to win the minor premiership, premiership and World Club Challenge simultaneously.
In the wake of the Super League war of the mid-1990s, and the resulting split competition of 1997, the Illawarra Steelers found themselves struggling financially and seemed unlikely to survive past 1999. The St. George Dragons largely financed a proposal for a merger which would see the St George Illawarra Dragons playing in both Kogarah and Wollongong. Essentially, St George would provide the money while Illawarra would provide a broader junior and fan base. With the NRL’s intention to rationalise the competition from 20 teams down to 14 teams and with a $4M incentive and a relaxing of salary cap requirements for a merger, the Dragons and the Steelers ensured their survival by forming the League’s first merger on 23 September 1998.