South Sydney Rabbitohs District - Pre-Rugby League Clubs

Before the formation of Rugby League, there were a number of clubs playing within todays South Sydney district boundaries.

In 1863 the first football clubs were being established. But they were based upon cricket clubs, who first started playing in Sydney in 1804. These clubs 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. But they were established with the potential to have teams in multiple sporting codes. With the two main codes Rugby and British Association(Soccer), as well as athletics and cycling.

Over in England, 1863 sees the formation of the British Football Association with the goal of standadising the rules of the multiple variations for football. But after a number of meetings the rules of a unified game could not be agreed and the rugby clubs left the association.

Soon after saw the formation of the RFU(Rugby Football Union) in England in 1871, on July 28 1874, at the Oxford Hotel in Sydney, saw the formation of the Southern Rugby Football Union and clubs started to play formal competition matches.

The inaugural teams within the district in 1874 were Wallaroo playing in red, white and blue and Waratah who played in white jersey and red slash and blue socks. Both teams played out of the Moore Park region. Waratah were the original premiers, but will take years before a normal competiton process would commence.

1874 - Wallaroo
     - Waratah [Premiers]

1870s Wallaroo Club

Jerseys needed to be ordered from England and in 1875 Wallaroo had reverted to be black and white, while Waratah was now wearing navy blue and red stripes jersies, socks and caps with white shorts.

1875 - Wallaroo
     - Waratah

1876 - Wallaroo [Premiers]
     - Waratah

1877 - Wallaroo [Premiers]
     - Waratah

In the 1877 Southern RU Annual Meeting intercolonial matches with Victoria were discussed. But hoped no match with Victoria would be arranged without a well defined and uniform standard rules for the regulation of the game.

But in defiance of this in July 1877 the Victorian rules Carlton club made arrangements to play a intercolonial match, and the Waratah club took them up on their offer. Two matches were played at Albert Ground, Redfern one being Victoian rules and one under Rugby rules.

On Friday 24th May 1878 saw the fomation of the Redfern Football Club. But they had held their meeting very late but only played matches later in season.

1878 - Wallaroo [Premiers]
     - Waratah
     - Redfern

1879 - Redfern
     - Wallaroo [Premiers]
     - Waratah

Matches being played up to 1879 were still very much being played in a adhoc arrangement.

1880 - Redfern
     - Wallaroo [Premiers]
     - Waratah

1880 saw Waratah also start playing Victorian rules matches, as well as Rugby. In July 1880 Joseph Allen Secretary of the Redfern Football Club let the public know the Redfern Club's position towards the new Victorian game. He was originally under the impression that the Victorian game was the British Association game(ie Soccer).He found afterwards it was nothing of the sort. On "national" grounds he opposed the introduction of the game which will suck the life-blood out of football in years to come. Half the clubs in England play Association game, and the other half playing Rugby. The natural tendancy of all our athletic pursuits is towards friendly matches with England. Cricket, rowing, shooting, and higher sheres of science and litreture have all found leading and worth exponents from the Australia colonies. But to introduce a hybrid game would close the door of Anglo-Australian football contests.

A few weeks later in 1880, Redfern played Waratah with the match ending in a blood bath where players were not interested in the game but by the spectacle of a player rendered unconscious through collison with opponents.

In 1881 the Southern RU decided that no clubs subscribing to the Union should be allowed to play matches under what is called the "Victorian" game of football. Waratah now could no longer field a Rugby team.

1881 - Redfern
     - Wallaroo

1882 - Redfern
     - Wallaroo

In 1882 Redfern had started playing on grounds on the eastern side of Randwick Rd.

In 1883 saw the best year for the old Redfern club as they were crowned premiers, winning the Gardiner Challenge Cup. Its club president was Edmund Barton (in 1901 Australia’s first Prime Minister), and a number of matches were being played on Moore Park.

1883 - Redfern [Premiers]
     - Wallaroo

1884 - Redfern (First Grade/2nd Grade)
     - Wallaroo

In 1885 a new club was formed in Redfern suburb, called Rosedale playing in Red and Black and playing out of Redfern Park.

1885 - Redfern (First Grade/2nd Grade)
     - Wallaroo
     - Rosedale

In 1886 Redfern was playing in a Navy Blue strip while Wallaroo were playing in a Red, Black and Yellow strip. 1886 also saw the introduction of the Juniors premiership.

1886 - Redfern
     - Wallaroo
     - Rosedale

However in 1887 the old Redfern club decided due to low player numbers not to field a team. It is reported that a large number of players had transfered across to the Imperial club. The expanding area of Randwick had now joined the rugby ranks playing in Amber and Indigo jersies.

1887 - Wallaroo (First Grade/2nd Grade)
     - Rosedale (First Grade/2nd Grade)
     - Waratah (2nd Grade)
     - Cleveland (Juniors)
     - Randwick (Juniors)
     - Randwick Ormonds (2nd Grade)

In 1888 Rosedale club took up the mantle as the lead club in Redfern. They secured the use of Redfern Park and changed their colours to be cardinal and black halves. Also in 1888 saw the introduction of the 4th grade with the 3rd Juniors.

1888 - Wallaroo
     - Rosedale

In 1889 saw the return of Redfern into the junior ranks.

1889 - Wallaroo
     - Rosedale
     - Redfern (Juniors)

1890 saw the return of Waratah into the junior ranks

1890 - Wallaroo (Fist Grade / 2nd Juniors)
     - Rosedale (First Grade / 2nd Juniors)
     - Randwick (First Grade / 2nd Juniors)
     - Redfern (1st Juniors)
     - Waratah (1st Juniors)

1891 the Southern RU has decided to form a 3rd Juniors competition.

1891 saw the South Sydney Football club formed but they chose to play Victorian rules that season.

1891 - Wallaroo (First Grade / 2nd Juniors)
     - Rosedale (First Grade / 2nd Juniors)
     - Randwick (First Grade / 2nd Juniors / 3rd Juniors)
     - Waratah (1st Juniors)
     - Grovsenor (3rd Juniors)
     - Surrey (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Parkhurst (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern (3rd Juniors)

However after only one round in 1891 Rosedale senior club was forced to retire from the competition.

In 1892 two rugby teams based around Moore Park, the Fernleigh and Richmond clubs, held a meeting and decided to merge into a single club called the Richmond club, wearing blue and white.

In 1892 saw the South Sydney Football club branch out to play British Association football soccer.

1892 - Wallaroo (First Grade) [Premiers] [RASG Challenge Shield] (1st Juniors / 2nd Juniors)
     - Randwick (First Grade0 [SCG Challenge Cup] (2nd Juniors / 3rd Juniors)
     - Rosedale (1st Juniors / 2ns Juniors)
     - Redfern Parkhurst A (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Parkhurst B (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern (3rd Juniors)
     - Richmond (3rd Juniors)
     - Surrey (3rd Juniors) [Premiers]

Discussions on the formation of district teams was proposed in 1893 after the successful implementation in Cricket, but it is still a few years away.

1893 - Wallaroo (First Grade)
     - Randwick (First Grade) [RASG Challenge Runners Up] [SCG Challenge Cup runners up] (1st Juniors / 3rd Juniors)
     - Rosedale (1st Juniors)
     - Grosvenor (2nd Juniors)
     - Surrey (2nd Juniors / 3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Parkhurst (3rd Juniors)
     - Boomerang (3rd Juniors)
     - Buccaneer (3rd Juniors)
     - Richmond (3rd Juniors)

For the 1894 season Richmond club has appointed Harry Hoyle MLA as its club president, in its meeting at St Peters Hall, Surry Hills.

1894 - Wallaroo (First Grade) [RASG Challenge Shield runners up] [SCG Challenge Cup runners up]
     - Randwick (First Grade) [Premiers] [RASG Challenge Shield] [SCG Challenge Cup] (1st Juniors)
     - Grosvenor (1st Juniors / 3rd Juniors)
     - Surrey (1st Juniors) [Premiers] (3rd Juniors)
     - Botany (3rd Juniors)
     - Buccaneer (3rd Juniors)
     - Cleveland (3rd Juniors)
     - Federal (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Norwood (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Parkhurst (3rd Juniors)
     - Richmond (3rd Juniors)
     - Richmond Excelsor (3rd Juniors)
     - Rosedale (3rd Juniors)

1895 Redfern Norwoods

1895 sees the introduction of a 5th grade the 4th Juniors. While Cleveland had transformed into the Redfern Borough. Meanwhile over in England a rugby split had occurred between the North and South of England.

1895 - Wallaroo (Seniors) [Runners Up] [RASG Challenge Shield runners up]
     - Randwick (Seniors) [Premiers] [RASG Challenge Shield]
     - Surray (1st Juniors)
     - Grovesnor (1st Juniors)
     - Richmond
     - Grovesnor (3rd Juniors)
     - Federal (3rd Juniors) [Premiers]
     - Redfern Norwood (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Borough A (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Borough B (3rd Juniors)
     - Botany (3rd Juniors)
     - Chelsea (4th Juniors)
     - Coogee (4th Juniors)
     - Redfern Waratah (4th Juniors) [Premiers] 
     - Victoria (4th Junios)

In 1896 a number of Redfern teams were playing, with Redfern Cambridge joining the junior ranks and were wearing a chocolate jersey. And Redfern Waratah were playing in a scarlet and royal blue jersey with a black slash. A new junior club, South Sydney Juniors based in Darlington was entered with John McQuillan hon. Secretary one of the founders. They were playing in a cardinal red and sage green strip.

1896 - Wallaroo (Senior) [RASG Challenge Shield runners up] [SCG Cup Challenge runners Up]
     - Randwick (Senior) [Premiers] [SCG Challenge Cup]
     - Federal (2nd Juniors)
     - Richmond (2nd Juniors / 4th Juniors)
     - Redfern Norwoods (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Waratah (3rd Juniors) [Premiers]
     - South Sydney Juniors (4th Juniors)
     - Redfern Cambridge (4th Juniors)
     - Redfern Cleveland (4th Juniors)
     - Chelsea (4th Juniors)
     - Coogee (4th Juniors)
     - Erskensville (4th Juniors)
     - Imperial (4th Juniors)
     - Victoria (4th Juniors)

1896 saw a consolidation of 4th Juniors grade after a attempt to end the grade failed.

1897 - Randwick (Seniors)
     - Wallaroo (Seniors)
     - Redfern Waratah (2nd Juniors / 4th Juniors)
     - Richmond (2nd Juniors / 4th Juniors)
     - Chelsea (3rd Juniors / 4th Juniors)
     - Grosvenor (3rd Juniors)
     - Victoria (4th Juniors)
     - Redfern Cambridge (4th Juniors)

1898 saw the arrival of the arrival of the South Sydney football club in Rugby ranks. They evolved from old Richmond rugby club and adopted the Richmond clubs of blue and white hoops, with immediate success in the 1st Juniors.

It also saw a number of clubs emerge in the juniors, Alexandria playing in Green and White. Botany in Black and White. And a second South Sydney Juniors club in the 3rd Juniors called South Sydney Juniors who adopted the cardinal red and sage green jersey.

1898 - Randwick (Seniors) [SCG Cup]
     - Wallaroo (Seniors)
     - South Sydney (1st Juniors) [Runners-up] (3rd Juniors)
     - South Sydney Juniors (3rd Juniors)
     - Redfern Waratah (2nd Juniors)
     - Botany (3rd Juniors) [Premiers]
     - Victoria (3rd Juniors)
     - Alexandria (3rd Juniors)

1898 South Sydney RU Football Club

After a number of attempts, in 1899 the MRU reduced the competition structure to just 3 grades.

After finishing runners-up to Marrickville in 1898, South Sydney and Marrickville clubs were to be elevated to the Seniors. In the South Sydney Football Club annual meeting in March 1899 it was decided to play senior competition for the up coming season. But by April 1899 they had a change of heart and had decided to stay in 2nd Grade after having seeing the impact in past seasons when new clubs entered the Seniors only to soon disband due to a lack of competitiveness against the much more powerful established teams, the Souths members preferred the club stay in First Juniors for 1899. The MRU banned South Sydney from playing unless it was in the Seniors, but relented upon an appeal.

1899 - Randwick (Seniors)
     - Wallaroo (Seniors / 2nd Grade)
     - Redfern Waratah (2nd Grade / 3rd Grade)
     - South Sydney (2md Grade / 3rd Grade)
     - South Sydney Juniors (3rd Grade)
     - Botany (3rd Grade)

After nearly 6 years of planning, 1900 saw the advent of electorate district football. With only South Sydney Ditrict now playing in all 3 grades. The 8 district MRU teams fielded teams in First Grade, Second Grade and Third Grade in 1900 and 1901.

1900 Souths Sydney & University RU teams Round 1 Agricultural Ground

1902 saw the re-introduction of Borough teams into the Third Grade, which in 1903 became the Borough Competition, with Surry Hills joining.

1902 - South Sydney (First Grade / Second Grade)
     - Surry Hills (Third Grade)

1902 South Sydney RU Club

1903 saw the expansion of the borough clubs with the return of Redfern and Waterloo joining.

1903 - South Sydney (First Grade / Second Grade)
     - Surry Hills (Borough)
     - Redfern (Borough)
     - Waterloo (Borough)

1904 - South Sydney (First Grade / Second Grade)
     - Redfern (Borough)
     - Surry Hills (Borough)
     - Waterloo (Borough)

1905 saw the expansion to now include one of the original proposed districts in Sydney RU enter the seniors, and we saw the return of Alexandria as a Borough club.

1905 - South Sydney (First Grade) [Premiers] / (Second Grade)
     - Redfern (Borough)
     - Surry Hills (Borough)
     - Waterloo (Borough)
     - Alexandria (Borough) [Premiers]

1905 South Sydney RU Club

1906 saw the promotion of Manly and St George into the Seniors and the promotion of Borough clubs into second grade recommence.

1906 - South Sydney (First Grade / 2nd Grade)
     - Alexandria (2nd Grade / Borough)
     - Waterloo (Borough)
     - Redfern (Borough)
     - Surry Hills (Borough)

1907 - South Sydney (First Grade / 2nd Grade)
     - Alexandria (2nd Grade)
     - Redfern (Borough)
     - Waterloo (Borough)
     - Surry Hills (Borough)

Record of the South Sydney First Grade RU club 1900-1907

        M  W  D  L B   F   A Pt
1900   14  6  1  7 -  67  94 13
1901   14  9  1  4 -  92  95 19
1902   14  3  1 10 -  53 147  7
1903   13  4  -  9 -  52  78  8
1904   14  9  2  3 - 143  71 20
1905   18 15  1  2 2 212  83 31 [Premiers] 
1906   15  7  3  5 1 151 111 18 
1907   12  7  1  4 1  92  70 17

As the 1907 season drew to a close movements were a foot to form the break-away rugby league competition also here in Sydney.