South Sydney Rabbitohs District

The history of the South Sydney district boundaries pre-dates the formation South Sydney District Rugby League club in 1908. In fact they also pre-dates the formation of the South Sydney District Rugby Union club in 1900. In fact it was cricket in 1892 at a meeting in Redfern Town Hall that proposed the setup of districts based upon electorial boundries.

In 1863 the first football clubs were being established. But they were based upon cricket clubs that had access to facilities and wanted to continue to play sport over winter. Sydney University has the honor of being the first rugby club established, and soon after other clubs like Wollaroo and Waratah were setup playing out of Moore Park. While a club in Redfern the Football Club was formed in 1878. While the South Sydney Football club first appeared in 1891. At this time clubs would play cricket and multiple football codes. The main codes at the time British Association(Soccer) and Rugby. In 1873 Victorian Rules had also made it way with games being played between Waratah and Carlton at the old privately run Albert Park in Redfern.

In meeting on July 18 at Redfern Town Hall was held to discuss the "proposed localisation of cricket in Sydney". In the opinion of the meeting it is most desirable to endeavour to re-organise cricket upon the basis of electorate, borough or locality. Interest in cricket had been diminishing as clubs having no following and no locality. Thus a reform to have local cricket on similar lines to that of county cricket in England, was proposed. It was pointed out that under this proposal more wickets could be formed in convient centres.

So a meeting at the Sydney Town Hall was arranged for August 2 1892 where all interested cricket parties could attend. About 200 people were in attendance where residential qualification based upon electrorial boundaries was passed and transitional implemention commenced in the upcoming 1892-93 season.

In 1892 the electorial boundaries which form the original basis of the South Sydney and Redfern Districts are outlined in the below electorial boundaries map.

So on August 22 1893 a meeting of different borough clubs within the electorate of Redfern was held at the Redfern Town Hall and the Redfern Electorial Cricket Club was formed with patron H.C.Hoyle.

In October 1893 the Southern Rugby Union at the Exchange Hotel passed a resolution to setup a committee to take the necessary steps for the senior competition of 1894 being played the clubs representing metropolitian electorates or districts. A overwhelming majority by show of hands carried a resolution for the establishment of electorate football by 61 to 48 However confusion resulted when the ballot of 46 to 47 the motion was not passed.

But in April 1894 with the season about to commence Southern Rugby Union held a the follow up meeting on the subject. A motion was put forward to that senior matches be competed for during the 1895 season between clubs representing the following electorates or districts and University:

  • Paddington (.ie. Eastern Suburbs)
  • St Leonards
  • East Sydney
  • West Sydney
  • South Sydney
  • Glebe
  • Newtown
  • Balmain
  • Central Cumberland
  • Redfern and
  • Canterbury

    And that a sub-committee of seven delegates be now appointed to fradt a programme of matches between the above-mentioned clubs, also to setup rules and regulations for governing such a programme and presented in a special meeting in six weeks. But this was toned back to just appointing a sub-committee.

    In Feb 1985 the sub-committee appointed by the Rugby Union to consider the question of electorate football has drown up the following report, to be considered at the next meeting of the Union -

  • 1 - The senior competition shall be open to clubs formed on a residential basis only and the University club.
  • 2 - Each club shall take the name of the district in which it is formed
  • 3 - Players must be residents of the district with which they play
  • 4 - Only students who are actually studying at the various colleges shall be eligible as players for the University club.
  • 5 - No player shall play with more than one district club during the season
  • 6 - The districts for the season of 1895 adn their boundaries shall be decided by the committee of the union
  • The following are suggested as districts: - Balmain, Canterbury, Central Cumberland, Glebe, Newtown, Paddington, Redfern, East Sydney, North Sydney, South Sydney and West Sydney.

    1897 saw the formation of the Metropolitan Rugby Union who then became affiliated with the NSW Rugby Union. All 1986 clubs now became affiliated with the MRU.

    1898 season saw Sydney enter the senior grade.

    In October 1898 the special sub-committee appointed by the Metropolitan Branch of the NSW Rugby Union to draw up competition rules and fix the boundaries for the scheme of district football, has completed its work. The boundaries of the proposed eight metropolitan districts have been defined as

  • Sydney - The whole of the electorates of Sydney (King, Fitzroy, Bligh, Flinders, Belmore, Cook, Lang and Gipps). Also part of Denison Division east of the railway line from Union St and part of the Phillip Division east of Regent St. (ie East Sydney, West Sydney and South Sydney)
  • Paddington - The electorial districts of Paddington, Woollahra, Waverley and Randwick.
  • Glebe - The electorates of Glebe, Annandale, Newtown-Camperdown, Pymont, Denison(west of Denison St), Phillip(west of Regent St)
  • Redfern - The electorates of Redfern, Darlington, Waterloo, Newtown-Erskine and Botany.
  • Balmain - The electoates of Balmain (north and south), Leichhardt, Ryde-Drummoyne.
  • Marrickville - The elctorates of Newtown-St Peters, Petersham, Marrickville, St George to the southernmost extermity of the Unions jurisdiction, viz, 15 miles from the GPO.
  • North Sydney - The electorates of St Leonards, Willoughby, Warringah and Ryde-Hunters Hill.
  • Central Cumberland - The electorates of Ashfiled and Burwood, and all western districts not allotted and which are within the Unions jurisdiction viz 15 miles from the GPO.

    In addition to the eight districts named the University will be admitted as a seperate club. The new competition rules drawn up are practicallythe same as those govened the old senior competition. A residential clause insists that a player shall have lived three months in a particular electoate before being entitled to represent that electoate in the competition.

    Finally on March 14 1900 the annual meeting of the MRU held at the Echange Hotel gave the go ahead to commence "district" rugby union. The attendance of interested footballers numbered about 80, amoungst whom were many prominantly identified with the game. The principal business was the consideration of the following proposal by Mr CW Oakes

    (1) That the football competitions carried on by the metropolitan banch of the NSWRFU should be on a electoral and district basis; and (2) that the by-laws and compeition rules be amended accordingly.

    This motion was seconded and carried by a decided majority. It was decided that the following be the districts, each one to provide a first, second and third grade team.

  • Sydney University
  • Eastern Suburbs - The whole of the electoral districts of Paddington, Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, (East Sydney)Sydney-King, Sydney-Fitzroy, Sydney-Bligh.
  • Glebe - The whole of the electoates of Glebe, Annandale, Pyrmont, Denison, Sydney-Phillip, (West Sydney)Sydney-Lang, Sydney-Gipps
  • South Sydney - The whole of the electorates of Redfern, Darlington, Waterloo, Newtown-Erskine, Botany, (South Sydney) Sydney-Flinders, Sydney-Belmore, Sydney-Cook
  • Balmain - The electorates of Balmain, Northa nd South Leichhardt, Muicipaility of Drummoyne.
  • Newtown - The electorates of Newtown, St Peters, Petersham, Marrickville, St George
  • North Sydney - The electorates of St Leonard's, Willoughby, Warringah, municipalityof Hunters Hill.
  • Western Suburbs - The electorates of Ashfield, Burwood and all western districts.

    On March 26 1900 at the Redfern Town Hall the South Sydney Distict RU club was formed.

    In 1901 there was a proposal put forward for Newtown-Erskine to be transfered to Newtown club. This would allow Newtown to obtain the use of Erskensville Oval. As compensation West Sydny(Sydney-Lang, Sydney-Gipps) were proposed to transfer to South Sydney. This motion however was no passed.

    On May 2 1900 a adjustment has been made with teh South Sydney electorate of Sydney-Phillip returned to South Sydney.

    The South Sydney District boundary to the north was Liverpool / Oxford St but only to Sth Dowling St. Then along Moore Park Rd and then down Lang Rd. As Paddington Town Hall was in Easts RU district It included Moore Park area. With City Rd, Cooks River the western boundary. Lang Parade, ANZAC Parade and Randbow Ave formed the Eastern boundary. Just for the record Easts western boundary was George St, where Glebe had the city area to the west.

    Then in late 1904 Sydney RU were formed for the 1905 season with electorates (Gipps, Lang, Bourke, Macquarie, Fitzroy, Bligh) ie the territory north of Liverpool St to Boundary St Kings Cross in the East allocated to them. Easts and Glebe territory had been reduced but not Souths RU.

    The 1907 South Sydney RU District Map

    JJ Giltinan in early Jan 1908 after the Glebe formation meeting had asserted that clubs would be formed in Glebe, Balmain, Newtown, South Sydney, Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, Manly, Western Suburbs(Ashfield), Central West with Parramatta as a centre and allowing a ten-mile radius. All were existing FG RU clubs with districts defined except Ashfield who wanted to separate from the Burwood-Parramatta based Wests RU So before all of the meetings of formation in Jan/Feb 1908 it was clear that the NSWRL had originally intended that new teams would follow RU district boundaries.

    In 1929 Glebe territory was split between Balmain and Souths

    In September 1937 a request was put forward to allocate Randwick / Coogee to the South Sydney District after Easts had just won 3 titles in a row. The NSWRL approved the request and re-allocated the region from Rainbow St / Anzac Pd / Alison Rd to Souths.

    In 1955 Easts had requested to have this returned but this request was rejected by the NSWRL.

    In 1983 Newtown district was split between Canterbury and Souths.


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