Milestones of Rugby League in
The signing of Rugby Union champion Dally Messenger to Rugby League for the
All Golds match is the catalyst for the beginning of a new game.
The first premiership games, at Wentworth Park and Birchgrove Oval, are
played on April 20 with Glebe, Souths, Newtown, Easts, Norths, Balmain,
Wests and Newcastle the foundation clubs. Cumberland join in second round
then exit at end of season. Souths become the first Premiers. Australian
tradition of numbering players from 1-13 (fullback to prop) is established.
The signing of Chris McKivat and other members of the 1908 Wallabies team
guarantees Rugby League’s future. Newcastle exit at end of season.
The first English Rugby League team arrives for a Test series in Australia.
Annandale join an eight-team premiership.
Rugby League is first played at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Sports
Harold Horder scores the greatest try on debut in the game's history,
running more than 100 metres in a match against Glebe.
Easts win their third straight premiership and become permanent holders of
the Royal Agricultural Society Shield.
England's victory in the famous 'Rorke's Drift Test' remains one of the
greatest against-the-odds wins the game has seen.
Rugby League elects to 'play on' though the war years despite seriously
depleted teams and the loss of the NSWRL secretary Ted Larkin on the first
Gallipoli landing. Balmain win their first Premiership.
"The first referees' Appointment Board (Alec Burdon, Harry Flegg and Les
Mead) is established. The league decrees that 10% of gross gate receipts at
all matches will be donated to the war effort. For the second year running,
Balmain achieve a 'black and gold sweep', winning all three grades.
Glebe's first-grade team, including the famous Burge brothers, goes on
strike and is suspended by the NSWRL.
South Sydney, inspired by one of the game's greatest fullbacks in Howard
'Silver Belt' Hallett, win the Premiership.
First tour to New Zealand by an Australian Test team.
Australia win the Ashes at home for the first time but won’t win another
series for 30 years. Sydney University join a nine-team competition but
Annadale exit at end of season. Rugby League News (now Big League) is first
St George enter the Sydney competition.
North Sydney win the Premiership for the second year in succession, and for
what turns out to be the last time in the club’s history. Queensland score
their first win in an interstate Rugby League match following 22 defeats.
Duncan Thompson, Norths' champion halfback and captain, is controversially
suspended for kicking and never plays in Sydney again.
The first radio broadcast of Rugby League expands the reach of the game. In
Queensland, the Galloping Toowomba Clydesdales begin a two-year undefeated
run of matches that would include a win against the English touring team of
1924. The Australian Rugby League Board of Control is established.
Souths begin a brilliant run of seven Premierships in eight years.
University reach the Premiership decider for the first and only time in the
club’s short history.
1927 A record crowd of more than 56,000 sees NSW defeat Queensland 14–10 in
the opening interstate match of the season.
Sensational riot at Earl Park after a match between St George and Balmain.
Easts play Souths in the first ever night match, held as part of a speedway
program at the Sydney Showground. The tradition of an annual Combined
Country versus City match is begun, Country winning 35-34 (previous contests
between Country and Metropolis involved 'ad hoc' teams and sporadic timing
Glebe are voted out of the competition.
Wests win their first Premiership, against St George, in the first
recognised Grand Final.
Radio broadcasts are banned by the NSWRL in the belief that they are
affecting crowd numbers.
Australia defeat Great Britain 15–6 in a Test that becomes known as 'The
Battle of Brisbane'.
Centre Ray Morris dies en-route to England with the Kangaroos.
Establishment of the Country Rugby League.
Canterbury join the competition and lose 87–7 to Easts, with Dave Brown
scoring 45 points.
Easts dominate the competition, building their reputation as one of the
greatest ever teams.
The last Kangaroos team to tour before the war leaves for England.
Canterbury win their first premiership, ending Easts’ hopes of four in a
Queensland square the series with NSW, despite losing the first two games
50–15 and 54–13.
NSWRL decides to play on during World War II, responding to the call of
Prime Minister Menzies.
St George win their first Premiership.
A crowd stampedes from the hill to the members' area as Canterbury defeat St
George on a wet Grand Final day.
A war-weary nation flocks to the Rugby League finals series, with 60,992
attending the Grand Final, won by Newtown over Norths.
"Newtown are accused of throwing the season final to force a Grand Final
play-off and an extra gate - in any case Balmain have the last laugh,
winning both matches and thus the Premiership. Claude Corbett, one of the
game's pioneering journalists, dies. His stated principle 'was to encourage
and not to knock'.
Bumper Farrell of Newtown and Bill McRitchie from St George feature in the
infamous 'ear bite' incident. Roosters legend Dick Dunn scores 19 points to
beat Balmain 22-18 in the final and win the Premiership.
The British Lions team, known as the 'Indomitables', tour Australia and are
unbeaten in the Test series.
Parramatta and Manly join the competition.
The omission of Len Smith from the Kangaroo tour ranks as one of the
greatest injustices in the game’s history.
Johnny Hawke heroically leads St George to the club’s second Premiership.
The nation rejoices as Australia win the Ashes against Great Britain for the
first time in 30 years.
French sensation Puig-Aubert and his team tour Australia, captivating crowds
with the brilliance of their play.
Wests down Souths in a hugely controversial Grand Final.
Farcical tour of the American All Stars … but the crowds are huge.
Referee Aub Oxford abandons a wild NSW v Great Britain match. Great Britain
defeat France in the first World Cup. Compulsory Grand Finals introduced to
the NSWRL Premiership.
Souths win 11 games straight to take the Premiership. They are inspired by
Clive Churchill who, despite a broken arm, lands a winning goal against
St George secure their third Premiership to begin a history-making run of
The World Cup comes to Australia for the first time with the Kangaroos
taking the trophy. Rugby League also comes to Australian television for the
first time as Channel Nine broadcasts Balmain v Canterbury from Leichhardt
Oval on April 27.
A brilliant Great Britain team, inspired by Vince 'Wild Bull of the Pampas'
Karalius, defeats Australia.
St George go through the season undefeated, as Rugby League mourns the death
of 'The Master' Dally Messenger.
Keith Barnes boots one of the game’s greatest goals, from 59 metres out, to
inspire Balmain to victory over St George in a Premiership match at
Don Parish becomes the first fullback to score a try in a Rugby League Test,
crossing as Australia lose 12-10 to New Zealand at Carlaw Park. St George
become the first team to win six premierships in a row - and they keep
Ken Irvine takes advice from referee Darcy Lawler and lands a sideline goal
to get Australia home in a sensational third Test win over Great Britain.
Fairfax photographer John O'Gready captures his famous 'Gladiators' photo in
the aftermath of a controversial St George v Wests Grand Final.
Australia beat France in a series for the first time at home.
A record Grand Final crowd of 78,056 crams in to the SCG to see St George
win their 10th straight Premiership.
St George claim a world record 11th consecutive Premiership.
Introduction of four-tackle rule, the most significant rule change in the
game's history, as Penrith and Cronulla-Sutherland join the competition.
Cronulla halfback Terry Hughes wins the first Rothmans Medal.
In a huge upset, Balmain slow the pace and steal the Grand Final from hot
John Sattler plays almost the entire Grand Final against Manly with a broken
NSWRL introduces the six-tackle rule.
Manly win their first premiership after 25 years.
Death of NSWRL president W.G. Buckley sees Balmain’s Kevin Humphreys as the
game's new leader.
The televised night-time Amco Cup begins, producing a fairytale win for the
team from Western Division, NSW.
Easts, coached by Jack Gibson, defeat St George by a record 38-0 in the
Grand Final - remembered, sadly, as the day the great Graeme 'Changa'
Langlands wore white boots.
Easts become first Premiership team to wear a sponsor's name on their jersey
- City Ford.
The game's first drawn first-grade Grand Final - St George v Parramatta. St
George would score a runaway win in the Grand Final replay the following
Referee Greg 'Hollywood' Hartley is at the epicentre of a dramatic, fierce
and controversial finals series. The Grand Final, this time between Manly
and Cronulla, is drawn for the second year running and the replay a week
later is another runaway result - to Manly.
Australia smash Great Britain in a Test series at home to highlight a
widening gap between the Rugby League powers.
State of Origin football begins sensationally with Queensland winning the
first game 20-10 at Lang Park.
Parramatta, coached by Jack Gibson, win their long-awaited first Premiership
in what will be Newtown's last ever first grade Grand Final.
Winfield’s sponsorship of the NSWRL Premiership begins as Canberra and
Illawarra join an expanded competition.
Newtown withdraw from the competition at the end of the season while Kevin
Humphreys resigns after the ABC’s Four Corners program 'The Big League' goes
Parramatta and Canterbury build a fierce rivalry that lasts through the ’80s
- with Canterbury taking the Grand Final 6-4 to crush the Eels' hopes of a
fourth straight title.
A year of mixed emotions as 'The Little Master' Clive Churchill dies, and
the NSW Blues win their first State of Origin series.
Peter Sterling is the inaugural Clive Churchill Medallist, named the best
player in the Grand Final that saw the Eels stop the Bulldogs from claiming
a third successive Premiership.
Manly win the last Grand Final at the SCG, beating Canberra. State of Origin
football heads to the USA.
Brisbane, Newcastle and the Gold Coast Giants join a 16-team competition.
Tina Turner’s 'What You Get Is What You See' is the game's anthem in a
wonderful year, highlighted by Canberra’s epic extra time Grand Final win
over Balmain. The Giants become the Seagulls. The NSWRL adopts the
international system of numbering forwards from the prop (No 8) down to the
Rugby League pushes the boundaries as State of Origin is played in
Penrith win their first Premiership with retiring hooker Royce Simmons
scoring two tries on a magic day.
The Premiership trophy heads north as Brisbane take the Grand Final over St
A crowd of 58,593 watches Brisbane and St George at ANZ Stadium,
establishing a new record for a single regular season match. The Bulldogs
and the Broncos play the first NSWRL Premiership game in New Zealand at
Auckland's Carlaw Park. Canterbury win 20-10.
After leading Canberra to the Premiership, Mal Meninga becomes the first
player to captain two Kangaroo tours, leading Australian to a 2-1 Test
series win over Great Britain. It is the last 'traditional' Kangaroo tour
Auckland, North Queensland, the South Queensland Crushers and the Western
Reds join a 20-team competition as the Super League war begins behind the
As Federal Court orders maintain one competition, the ARL takes control of
the Gold Coast, who are reborn as 'the Chargers'. Manly defeat St George
20-8 in the Grand Final while a Federal Court appeal later gives Super
League the go-ahead for 1997.
The Adelaide Rams and the Hunter Mariners join a 10-team 'Super League'
competition. The ARL runs a 12-team competition. In a memorable ARL finale,
Darren Albert scores with just six seconds on the clock to give Newcastle a
stunning victory over Manly, while Brisbane beat Cronulla in the Super
League decider. The Western Reds, the South Queensland Crushers and Hunter
Mariners are the casualties as News Ltd and the ARL vote to end the Rugby
Melbourne join a 20-team united competition as the National Rugby League is
formed to administer the Premiership. Canterbury achieve the “comeback of
the century” to defeat Parramatta 32-20 in extra time but lose to Brisbane
in the Grand Final. Adelaide and the Gold Coast exit at the end of the
season, while the Dragons and Steelers merge to form St George Illawarra.
St George Illawarra join a 16-team competition. The first joint venture team
into a Grand Final, they lose to the Melbourne Storm courtesy of a penalty
try in the dying moments. Souths exit the competition at the end of year.
Norths and Manly announce a merger, as do Balmain and Wests.
The Wests Tigers and the Northern Eagles join a 14-team competition.
Brisbane's Shane Webcke plays the Grand Final with a broken arm against the
Roosters as the Broncos win the Premiership.
Souths win their fight to be readmitted to the competition, while Manly take
control of the Northern Eagles licence, effectively ending North Sydney's
existence in the top grade. Allan Langer, playing for Warrington in the UK,
makes a guest appearance for Queensland in Origin Three and snatches the
South Sydney return to a 15-team competition. Canterbury breach the salary
cap and are stripped of 37 of their 41 competition points as the Roosters go
on to win their first Premiership in 27 years.
The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles return to the premiership in their own right.
The Kangaroos come back from the dead in three successive Tests against
Great Britain in a series that revives the international game. Penrith’s
Scott Sattler makes an unforgettable tackle as the Panthers stun the
Roosters in the Grand Final.
Shaun Timmins’ extra time field goal for the NSW Blues wins State of
Origin's first golden-point shoot-out.
Andrew 'Joey' Johns returns from representative football retirement to
inspire NSW to victory in the State of Origin series, while the Wests Tigers
become the first joint venture team to win a Grand Final, beating the
Cowboys. The Gold Coast Titans are announced as a new franchise to join the
NRL in 2007.
Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court buy South Sydney. State of Origin
sells out Melbourne's Telstra Dome while Darren Lockyer captains Brisbane to
a Premiership, Queensland to Origin success and Australia to a Tri Nations
Gold Coast Titans enter the premiership.
Centenary of Rugby League.