The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) is the governing body for Rugby League in New South Wales and is a member of the Australian Rugby League. It was formed on 8 August, 1907 and was known as the New South Wales Rugby Football League (NSWRFL) until 1984. From 1908 to 1994, the NSWRL ran Sydney's, then New South Wales', and eventually Australia's top-level rugby league club competition.
The New South Wales Rugby Football League was responsible for the introduction of Rugby League into Australia in 1907. Since that time the NSWRL has built a rich tradition at all levels of the game. Great names and great games illuminate the League's growth since 1907 up to the present day. The NSWRFL was formed in August 1907, when player discontent with the administration of the New South Wales Rugby Union, over rejection of compensation payments for injuries and lost wages, led to a breakaway movement.
Key figures in the new movement were James Joseph Giltinan, legendary cricketer Victor Trumper, Alex Burdon, Peter Moir, Labor politician Henry Hoyle, George Brackenregg and Jack Fenely. The first Rugby League game in New South Wales was played on 17 August 1907, in which New Zealand defeated New South Wales Rugby League team 12-8.
Royal Agricultural Society Shield
The Royal Agricultural Society Shield or RAS Shield was the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL)'s first premiership trophy. The Eastern Suburbs club achieved this feat winning premierships in 1911, 1912 and 1913.
The hand crafted silver and oak designed shield was donated to the NSWRL by the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales in its inaugural year of the competition.
In 1929 Jersey Flegg was appointed to the position of president of the NSWRFL.
J.J. Giltinan Shield
In 1951, the NSWRFL moved to the J.J. Giltinan Shield, following his passing in 1950. This trophy was awarded to the premiers of the NSWRFL competition, being named after one of the founding fathers of the NSWRFL and rugby league in Australia. The trophy remains today, being awarded to the minor premiers of the National Rugby League competition.
In 1967 the NSWRFL Grand Final became the first football Grand Final of any code to be televised live in Australia.
The NSWRFL had also commenced a very popular and successful mid-week competition in 1974, originally known as the Amco Cup, but later as the Tooth Cup and the National Panasonic Cup. The success of this competition, which included teams from both Brisbane and New Zealand, ultimately created pressure for further expansion in the existing NSWRFL competition.
In 1980, the NSWRFL President Kevin Humphries, who had been chairman of the League since 1973, was instrumental in the establishment of the State of Origin series between teams representing the NSWRFL and Queensland Rugby League (QRL). The immediate success of this series, which remains the premier representative competition in Australia, and the overriding success of the Queensland team further pressured the NSWRFL to expand the club competition outside the boundaries of the state.
Sydney suburban teams came and went throughout the NSWRFL's history but it was not until 1982 the competition included expansion outside of the Sydney area.
The two new inclusions were from the Australian Capital Territory - the Canberra Raiders - as well as a team from the southern New South Wales region - the Illawarra Steelers.
The Winfield Cup trophy remains a permanent symbol of one of the game's most successful eras. Cast in bronze by Alan Ingham, it was the game's ultimate prize for the duration of the Winfield sponsorship from 1982-95.
Based on John O'Gready's famous photograph of Norm Provan and Arthur Summons after the 1963 Grand Final, the trophy represented the premiership pinnacle for players in the Winfield era. Its image of the big man and the little man encompasses many of the finer points of Rugby League – the mateship after battle, the satisfaction of the shared experience on the playing field – no matter how hard and tough the struggle has been, the message that Rugby League, for all its professionalism, is still a game.
The League's name was changed in 1984 to the New South Wales Rugby League and Ken Arthurson became the new chairman.
In 1988, two teams from Queensland joined the competition. The Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast-Tweed Giants moved the game beyond the outer borders of New South Wales. At the same a team from the Hunter region of New South Wales was included, with the return of a Newcastle franchise, the Newcastle Knights.
The Winfield Cup competition was handed over to the control of the Australian Rugby League for the 1995 season, with the inclusion of teams from North Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand.
This period of expansion created tremendous success for the competition and Rugby League in general. Over three million fans attended competition matches in the 1995 season and this figure remains the record for a single season attendance until this day.
The NSWRL manages the New South Wales State of Origin team as well as the NSW Residents, under-18s and under-16s and Indigenous Rugby League teams. These teams traditionally play against teams from the Queensland Rugby League as curtain raisers before State of Origin or Test Matches.
The NSWRL also looks after the annual City vs Country match which takes place between a City side selected by the NSWRL and a Country side selected by New South Wales Country Rugby League. It is played before the Rugby League State of Origin series and is often referred to as a selection trial for the New South Wales Aussie Blues team.
The annual State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons is the most popular sporting event in NSW. Sydney has hosted many State of Origin matches since the series began in 1980. The three game series are held in Sydney and Brisbane with the first and third games in one city and the second in the other. These rotate every year, so if two games are played in Sydney one year, then those games are played in Brisbane the next.
The NSWRL conducts development academies from the NSW Institute of Sport facility at Narrabeen, Centrebet Stadium at Penrith and a Referees Development Unit at Homebush. These facilities are actively involved in the conduct of competitions and carnivals involving junior league and schools based teams while the Referees Development Unit manage referee education as well as allocation of referees for Junior Representative Competitions . The academies also conduct several camps focusing on development as well as running the accreditation process for coaches, trainers, first aid and match officials.