- New South Wales Rugby Football League season 1908
Infobox rugby league season
year = 1908
competition = New South Wales Rugby Football League
imagesize = 125px
teams = 9
count = 1st
minor premiers =
mpcount = 1st
matches = 43
points = 1108
top points scorer = (47 points)
top try scorer = (15 tries)The 1908
New South Wales Rugby Football League premiershipwas the inaugural season of Australia's first rugby league footballcompetition, which was based in Sydney, New South Wales. Eight teams contested the first round of the season; seven teams from Sydneyand one team from Newcastle. Cumberland joined the competition in the second round, making it nine teams in total who contested for the first premiership and the Royal Agricultural Society Challenge Shield, a beautiful black mahogany shield embossed with silver.
Early in the 20th century in
Sydney, the game of rugby footballwas contested in competitions that were affiliated with the Rugby Football Unionbased 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 union players and supporters met at Bateman's Hotel,
George Street, Sydney, to discuss the creation of the New South Wales Rugby Football League. 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.
* Balmain, formed on
January 23 1908at Balmain Town Hall
* Cumberland, formed on
April 20 1908at Horse and Jockey Hotel, Homebush
* Eastern Suburbs, formed on
January 24 1908at Paddington Town Hall
* Glebe, formed on
January 9 1908
* Newcastle, formed on
February 8 1908at Pike's Rooms, Bolton Street, Newcastle
* Newtown, formed on
January 14 1908
* North Sydney, formed on
February 7 1908
* South Sydney, formed on
January 17 1908at Redfern Town Hall
* Western Suburbs, formed on
February 4 1908
The jerseys of the 9 teams for the 1908 season are shown below.
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
finalwas played. South Sydney overcame a depleted Eastern Suburbs side to take away the inaugural premiership.Round4
15 August 1908 - Agricultural| "' |10
15 August 1908 - Wentworth| "' |3
29 August 1908 - Agricultural| "' |12
* Whiticker, Alan & Collis, Ian (2006) "The History of Rugby League Clubs", New Holland, Sydney
* [http://www.stats.rleague.com/rl/snotes.html Rugby League Tables - Notes] "The World of Rugby League"
* [http://www.stats.rleague.com/rl/seas/1908.html Rugby League Tables - Season 1908] "The World of Rugby League"
* [http://www.rl1908.com/premiership.htm Premiership History and Statistics] "RL1908"
* [http://rl1908.com/Grandfinals/1908.htm South Sydney Claim Rugby League Title] "RL1908"
* [http://users.hunterlink.net.au/~maajjs/aus/nsw/sum/nsw1908.htm#Sydney New South Wales Competitions 1908] "The Vault"
* [http://www.northsydneybears.com.au/history/Introduction.htm History - Introduction] "North Sydney Bears"
* [http://www.nma.gov.au/shared/libraries/attachments/league_of_legends/the_game_begins/files/22449/C-The_game_begins.pdf The Game Begins - nma.gov.au]
* [http://www.rabbitohs.com.au/The-Club/Tradition/Results---1908-1910.html Results: 1908-1910 at rabbitohs.com.au]
* [http://www.rleague.com//db/year/1908/royal_agricultural_society_of_nsw_challenge_shield/index.php 1908 Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Challenge Shield at rleague.com]
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