1908 NSWRFL season

1908 NSWRFL season
Teams 9
Premiers South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney (1st title)
Minor premiers South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney (1st title)
Matches played 43
Points scored 1108 (total)
25.767 (per match)
Top point scorer(s) Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Horrie Miller (47)
Top try scorer(s) Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Horrie Miller (15)

The 1908 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the inaugural season of Australia's first rugby league football club competition, which was based in Sydney, New South Wales. Nine clubs competed for the first premiership and the Royal Agricultural Society Challenge Shield, culminating in a grand final between Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney.[1]

Contents

History

Early in the 20th century in Sydney, the game of rugby football was contested in competitions that were affiliated with the Rugby Football Union based in England. Only a decade earlier, a breakaway version of rugby had begun in England, with the Northern Rugby Football Union being formed as a direct consequence. The reasons for this split were ultimately based around the fact that clubs had wanted to compensate their players for time away from work due to injuries and travelling. After the Rugby Football Union denied the clubs' requests for compensation, many northern English clubs split away from the Rugby Football Union and entered a new competition, which implemented gradual rule changes to the rugby game in an attempt to make a more attractive game for crowds. When crowd numbers started to rise, clubs were able to afford to pay players benefits as a direct result of increased gate takings. This new game was known as rugby league.

In 1906 in Sydney, crowd numbers for rugby matches began to increase significantly following the emergence of special player, Dally Messenger, whose individual skill was considered a pleasure to watch. It was around this time that the discontent of players with their rugby clubs for continually failing to shift away from the amateur culture of the Rugby Football Union was starting to show. Even though bigger crowds had brought increased revenue to the game, players ended up failing to see any of the increased revenue going back to them. But in the latter half of 1907 and unknown to the general public, Dally Messenger secretly agreed to sign on to play in a professional rugby competition that would start the following year, run by the New South Wales Rugby Football League. It would turn out to be Messenger's popularity that would ensure the success of the new competition.

On 8 August 1907 a group of leading rugby players and supporters met at Bateman's Hotel, George Street, Sydney and resolved to form the New South Wales Rugby Football League.[2] Early in 1908, a number of Rugby Football Union clubs held meetings across Sydney and Newcastle to decide whether or not breakaway clubs should be formed in preparation for the new Rugby Football League's premiership that was to start in the following months. The popularity amongst players in support of the new competition was overwhelming, with only some players deciding to continue playing in the traditional amateur Rugby Football Union competition. The Rugby Football League clubs that were formed were essentially breakaway clubs, and in most instances, teams continued the use of their team colours into the new competition. A key aspect of the new code was that players would be paid for playing the game. Adopting the playing rules of the rebel Northern Union of England, the new competition began in earnest in Australia on Easter Monday, 20 April 1908.

Teams

Eight teams contested the first round of the season; seven teams from Sydney and one team from Newcastle. Another Sydney team, Cumberland, joined the competition in the second round, making it Nine teams in total.

  • Balmain, formed on 23 January 1908 at Balmain Town Hall
  • Cumberland, formed on 20 April 1908 at Horse and Jockey Hotel, Homebush
  • Eastern Suburbs, formed on 24 January 1908 at Paddington Town Hall
  • Glebe, formed on 9 January 1908
  • Newcastle, formed on 8 February 1908 at Pike's Rooms, Bolton Street, Newcastle
  • Newtown, formed on 14 January 1908
  • North Sydney, formed on 7 February 1908
  • South Sydney, formed on 17 January 1908 at Redfern Town Hall
  • Western Suburbs, formed on 4 February 1908

The jerseys of the 9 teams for the 1908 season are shown below.

Balmain home jersey 1908.svg
Balmain
Cumberland home jersey 1908.svg
Cumberland
Eastern Suburbs home jersey 1908.svg
Eastern Suburbs
Glebe home jersey 1908.svg
Glebe
Newcastle Rebels home jersey 1908.svg
Newcastle
Newtown Jets home jersey 1908.svg
Newtown
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1908.svg
North Sydney
South Sydney home jersey 1908.svg
South Sydney
Western Suburbs home jersey 1908.svg
Western Suburbs

Season summary

All four games of the premiership's opening round were played on 20 April 1908. Two games were held at Wentworth Park and the other two at Birchgrove Oval. In total, 3000 people attended at each venue for the back-to-back matches, with Glebe, Balmain, South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs winning their respective matches over Newcastle, Western Suburbs, North Sydney and Newtown. In all, ten regular-season rounds were played, to be followed by two semi-finals and then a final.

The season was a financial disaster for the New South Wales Rugby Football League. The competition had a distinct lack of star players, was hurt by a number of refereeing problems and suffered from a lack of exposure from the conservative press. Many players who had switched over from rugby union were sacked from their weekday jobs and were no longer allowed to enter the Sydney Cricket Ground, home of the New South Wales Rugby Union. The five captains that had moved from rugby union were also publicly ostracised.

The season's highest crowd came in the second round when South Sydney beat Cumberland in front of 20,000 people. Due to Cumberland having just been admitted into the premiership, this match was played 2 weeks after the other 3 games of round 2 had been completed. South Sydney consequently played their second match of the "round" because of this.

At the end of the season, Eastern Suburbs' Horrie Miller was the competition's top points scorer and top try scorer.

Ladder

The geographical locations of the foundation teams across Sydney.
Team Pld W D L B PF PA PD Pts
1 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 9 8 0 1 1 194 53 +141 18
2 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 9 8 0 1 1 183 90 +93 18
3 Glebe colours.svg Glebe 9 7 0 2 1 106 63 +43 16
4 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 9 6 0 3 1 155 66 +89 14
5 Newcastle foundation colours.svg Newcastle 9 4 0 5 1 151 116 +35 10
6 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 9 3 1 5 1 86 113 -27 9
7 Cumberland colours.svg Cumberland[3] 8 1 0 7 2 38 191 -153 6
8 Newtown colours.svg Newtown 9 1 1 7 1 70 148 -78 5
9 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 9 1 0 8 1 47 190 -143 4

Ladder progression

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 2 6[4] 6 6[4] 8 10 12 14 16 18
2 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 14 16 18
3 Glebe colours.svg Glebe 2 4 6 8 10 10 12 14 16 16
4 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 0 2 4 4 6 6 8 10 12 14
5 Newcastle foundation colours.svg Newcastle 0 2 4 6 6 8 8 10 10 10
6 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 2 2 3 3 5 7 7 7 7 9
7 Cumberland colours.svg Cumberland[3] 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 4
8 Newtown colours.svg Newtown 0 0 1 3 3 3 5 5 5 5
9 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 4 4

Finals

The competition was decided on which side had the most premiership points at the end of the year. After the regular season had completed, the top four teams played an extra round in order break the deadlock between South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs which both ended up on 18 points. After these two teams won their respective semi-finals, a final was played. South Sydney overcame a depleted Eastern Suburbs side to take away the inaugural premiership.

  Semi-finals Final
15 August 1908 - Agricultural
  Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 23  
  North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 10  
 
29 August 1908 - Agricultural
      South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 14
    Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 12
15 August 1908 - Wentworth
  South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 16
  Glebe colours.svg Glebe 3  

Final

South Sydney Position Eastern Suburbs
Webby Neil FB Bill King
Frank Storie WG W. Smith
F. Jarman CE Percy McNamara
Ed Fry CE Dave Brown
Leo Senior WG Horrie Miller
Arthur Conlin (c) FE Harold Kelley
Jack Levison HB Lou D'Alpuget
Tom Golden PR Percy White
Jack Coxon HK Herb Brackenreg
Dick Green PR Mick Frawley
A. McCallum SR Jersey Flegg (c)
J. Cochrane SR Ted Briscoe
Harry Butler LK Bob Mable
Arthur Hennessy Coach

Both teams were weakened by the absence of players selected to travel to England on the first Kangaroo tour.[5]

The following is a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on the final between South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs.

"The final match to determine the premiership in the first grade of the Rugby League was played on the Agricultural Society's Ground on Saturday in perfect weather. The match was shorn of much interest on account of prominent members of both teams being absent, on their way to England. In accordance with the League rules, one-third of the profits of the match will be devoted to charity. The game, which was brilliant, and at times rather rough, resulted in a victory for South Sydney by 14 points to 12. The winners deserved their victory.

South Sydney lost the toss, and kicked off from the southern end, an easterly wind blowing across the ground, and the sun shining strongly against them. Play hummed from the beginning. South Sydney having the better of matters, the forwards putting in splendid work. Getting the ball from the scrum repeatedly, South Sydney's backs executed several brilliant bursts, but the tackling of their opponents was very safe. However, they broke through once, Conlin making a beautiful feinting run, and then passing to Senior, on the wing, the latter scoring a pretty try.

Immediately afterwards Herb Brackenrigg kicked a penalty goal for Eastern Suburbs. South Sydney now attacked strongly, and appeared likely to score, but Horrie Miller, intercepting a yard or so from his own line, raced the whole length of the ground and scored a beautiful try behind the posts. Brackenrigg converted, making the scores 7 points to 6 in favour of Eastern Suburbs.

On resuming South Sydney obtained the upper hand, forwards and backs playing brilliantly. They made repeated dashes, but could not break through for a long time. Once Storie got across, but was tackled. Then the three-quarters made fine dashes on either wing. From the last of these, which ended on the line, Golden scored a try, which Green failed to convert. Just before half time, Edward Fry marked at Eastern Suburb’s 25, and Conlin kicked a fine goal, South Sydney leading by 8 points to 7.

The second half proved exciting from start to finish, Eastern Suburbs at first attacked and South Sydney got out of the difficulty by forcing. South Sydney now became aggressive, the three-quarters combining very neatly. They repeatedly penetrated the defence, but could not put the finishing touch to the movements for some time. At length Levison obtained a scrum and passed to Conlin, on the wing. The latter dashed for the line, and scored. The kick at goal failed. South Sydney 11 points to 7.

Eastern Suburbs put in fine work. Dan Frawley and Brackenrigg dribbling almost to the line. Then McNamara dropped a field goal from centre, which reduced South Sydney's lead to 2 points. McNamara almost repeated the performance a few minutes later, South Sydney rallied, and Levison getting from a scrum at the 25 passed in to Butler, who scored. The kick at goal failed.

Play now became very rough, several players being knocked out temporarily, and the referee had to administer cautions. Near time, Eastern Suburbs came with a rush, and Miller scored a good try, which Brackenrigg failed to convert.

There was no further scoring, South Sydney winning by 14 points to 12."

14

South Sydney home jersey 1908.svg South Sydney
Tries Senior, Golden, Conlin, Butler
Goals Conlin 1/4
Field Goals

12

Eastern Suburbs home jersey 1908.svg Eastern Suburbs
Tries Miller 2
Goals Brackenreg 2/2
Field Goals McNamara

Statistics

Points

Player Team P T G FG Pts
1 Horrie Miller Eastern Suburbs 15 1 0 47
2 Herb Brackenreg Eastern Suburbs 2 17 0 40
3 Arthur Butler South Sydney 6 11 0 40
4 Stan Carpenter Newcastle 2 16 0 38
5 Albert Conlon Glebe 1 17 0 37
6 Dick Green South Sydney 6 8 0 34
7 Harry Glanville North Sydney 2 14 0 34
8 Alf Latta Balmain 4 10 0 32
9 Bill Bailey Newcastle 9 1 0 29
10 Jack Scott Newtown 5 6 0 27

Tries

Player Team P T
1 Horrie Miller Eastern Suburbs 15
2 Bill Bailey Newcastle 9
3 Daniel Frawley Eastern Suburbs 8
4 Dick Green South Sydney 6
4 Harry Butler South Sydney 6
4 Arthur Butler South Sydney 6
4 Frank Storie South Sydney 6
4 Tommy Anderson South Sydney 6
4 Billy Cann South Sydney 6

Footnotes

  1. ^ Premiership Roll of Honour at rl1908.com
  2. ^ Cunneen, Chris (2001). The best ever Australian Sports Writing. Australia: Black Inc.. p. 315. ISBN 1 86395 266 7. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=66OBschGE_YC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Two Byes see Whiticker/Collis The History of Rugby League Clubsp120
  4. ^ a b South Sydney played two matches in two weeks in what was still designated as round two. This was because Cumberland, a new team applying for inclusion in the competition after it had started, played a trial game in the first week of round 2 against Eastern Suburbs. Once the league approved of their inclusion, they played their first premiership match against South Sydney a fortnight later in the only game of the weekend. Because of this, South Sydney was allocated no game nor a bye in round 4, bringing them level with other teams in terms of matches and byes allocated to date.
  5. ^ "Football". The Sydney Mail: pp. 644. 1908-09-02. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=U30QAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DpUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6923,3477172. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 

References

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • 1909 NSWRFL season — Teams 8 Premiers South Sydney (2nd title) Minor premiers …   Wikipedia

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  • 1974 NSWRFL season — Teams 12 Premiers Eastern Suburbs (10th title) Minor premiers …   Wikipedia

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  • 1978 NSWRFL season — Teams 12 Premiers Manly Warringah (4th title) Minor premiers …   Wikipedia


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