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Presidents Cup steeped in history

The NSWRL kicks off this weekend (July 18-19) with the Presidents Cup competition, and while the format involving nine teams from across Sydney and regional NSW is new, the trophy itself is well over 100-years-old.

It was 1910 when Sir James Joynton Smith, the newly-appointed President of the NSWRL, donated the trophy. Joynton Smith was a fascinating figure - he rose from humble beginnings in England to end as Lord Mayor of Sydney and earned a knighthood for his philanthropic work. A shrewd businessman, he was a key figure in the game up until his death in 1943.

Initially the Presidents Cup competition was for representative teams from each district’s junior league. It ran in this format until the 1980s, and became a renowned nursery for producing champion players.

As the NSWRL premiership expanded in the 1980s the Presidents Cup became the Third Grade premiership trophy and then stepped up to become the Reserve Grade or Premier League trophy as the competition was known at the turn of the century.

Now the trophy shall be the prize in an exciting new competition that links the present back to the game’s earliest days.

The nine teams represented include North Sydney Bears, Dubbo CYMS, Thirroul Butchers, Western Suburbs Devils, Western Rams, Hills District Bulls, Wentworthville Magpies, Maitland Pickers and Glebe-Burwood Wolves.

The competition will be played over nine rounds with two weeks of finals including the Grand Final on the weekend of 26-27 September at a venue yet to be determined.

“The Presidents Cup was a very prestigious and historic competition so it’s great to see it return, particularly in a year that has seen the NSWRL and the CRL become united under the one banner,” NSWRL President Bob Millward told

“One of the teams involved, Wests Illawarra, boasts an impressive list of juniors which includes former Australian captain Bob Fulton, Garry Jack, Steve Roach, David Waite, Graham Lye and Royce Ayliffe so that club brings a bit of history into this competition too.

“I’d like to thank all the teams involved because everyone has been battling difficulties and they’ve all managed to get sides together to contest the Presidents Cup for 2020.”