The Storm gained redemption after having premierships stripped for salary cap cheating, Des Hasler oversaw a remarkable turnaround at Canterbury and South Sydney enjoyed its best season since 1971 - but the best thing to happen in rugby league this year was the formation of the ARL Commission.
Almost 17 years since News Ltd launched its raid on the game in 1995, the media company handed back control on February 8 and the benefits to league have been enormous.
From the $1.025 billion broadcast deal to a strategic plan for the next five years and a salary cap rise to $5.8 million, the ARLC has delivered and it has managed to do so without a chief executive after David Gallop was sacked in June. While there has been frustration over the time taken to make decisions, the focus has been on getting the right outcome and most have been accepted.
There are few better examples than the decisions taken at the December 18 meeting to introduce a new criteria for state-of-origin eligibility, scrap the benefit-of-the-doubt rule and make changes to the role of the video referee.
Whenever Israel Folau poses for a promotion with the NSW Waratahs, Parramatta fans are entitled to think he should have been doing so for their club.
Regardless of who was to blame for Folau ending up in rugby union, the fact he will not be playing in the NRL next season is an embarrassment.
Here was a 23-year-old star who had been lured to AFL for $1.5 million per season to promote Greater Western Sydney and who wanted to return to the code where he won a grand final with Melbourne, became the youngest player to represent Australia and scored a try for Queensland that is considered an iconic moment in origin history.
Even better, he wanted to play for the biggest club in western Sydney and the wooden-spooner. Yet salary cap issues prevented Folau from finalising a deal with Parramatta. Those salary cap problems no longer exist.
The decision to ban the shoulder charge sparked a public outcry from players such as the game has rarely seen.
Clearly surprised by the November 20 ruling by the ARLC, players took to Twitter en masse to make it clear they opposed the proposed changes. But their view appears to have barely made a ripple, with penalties ranging from a two-match suspension to a ban of eight games outlined after the ARLC's December 18 meeting.
The return of Sonny Bill Williams will add to the hype of next season, with the former Bulldogs star now considered one of the best rugby union players in the world.
Such is Williams' drawing power that Channel Nine chose the match between the lowly Sydney Roosters and South Sydney to kick off the 2013 season, the Warriors have moved their round-two match to Eden Park, and Canterbury tried desperately to host Williams' first away match at ANZ Stadium.