1971 NSWRFL season
|1971 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||South Sydney (20th title)|
|Minor premiers||Manly-Warringah (1st title)|
|Points scored||4477 (total)
32.919 (per match)
11,488 (per match)
|Top point scorer(s)||Graeme Langlands (196)|
|Top try scorer(s)||Paul Cross (18)|
The 1971 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the sixty-fourth season of Sydney's professional rugby league football competition, Australia's first. Twelve teams, including six foundation clubs and another six admitted since 1908, competed for the J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season, which culminated in a Grand Final match for the W.D. & H.O. Wills between the South Sydney and St. George clubs.
Each side met all others twice in twenty-two regular season rounds, resulting in the top four teams consisting of Manly-Warringah, South Sydney, St. George and Parramatta who fought out three finals for the right to play in the Grand Final.
This season marked the end of a 23-year run where all but two of the premierships were won by St George or South Sydney.
The 1971 season saw a ban imposed by the NSWRL on TV coverage of games in the Sydney premiership. It was believed that TV coverage was a contributing factor to falling attendances at games. As a result, only the Grand Final was televised, and even then as a one-hour late night highlights package rather than live coverage. The ban was lifted for the 1972 season onwards, as in practice it was shown to have a negligible effect on match attendances.
Under the guidance of revolutionary head-coach Jack Gibson who was in 1971 beginning to embrace the attitude and training methods used in the United States' National Football League, St. George in 1971 had reached the Grand Final in all three grades.
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|St. George||19 - 8||Parramatta||28 August 1971||Sydney Cricket Ground||Keith Page||38,157|
|Manly-Warringah||13 - 19||South Sydney||4 September 1971||Sydney Cricket Ground||Keith Holman||50,261|
|Manly-Warringah||12 - 15||St. George||11 September 1971||Sydney Cricket Ground||Keith Page||45,883|
|South Sydney||16 - 10||St. George||18 September 1971||Sydney Cricket Ground||Keith Holman||62,838|
|St. George||Position||South Sydney|
|Graeme Langlands (c)||FB||Eric Simms|
|Ken Batty||WG||Keith Edwards|
|Bob Clapham||CE||Paul Sait|
|Ken Maddison||CE||Bob Honan|
|Geoff Carr||WG||Ray Branighan|
|Tony Branson||FE||Denis Pittard|
|Billy Smith||HB||Bob Grant|
|Harry Eden||PR||John Sattler|
|Colin Rasmussen||HK||George Piggins|
|Grahame Bowen||PR||John O'Neill|
|Peter Fitzgerald||SR||Bob McCarthy|
|Barry Beath||SR||Gary Stevens|
|Ted Walton||LK||Ron Coote|
|Jack Gibson||Coach||Clive Churchill|
Against a battle-hardened Souths side with a larger pack, the young Dragons went into the Grand Final as clear underdogs.
The first half was a gruelling affair with the only points coming from an Eric Simms field goal. At half-time Souths were in front by the unlikely scoreline of 1-0.
Souths raced ahead in the second half and at one stage held an 11-0 lead. The Dragons fought back with tries to Barry Beath and Ted Walton. Graeme Langlands added the extras, including a magnificent sideline conversion.
With the score at 11-10 and with only 12 minutes remaining, Saints looked to be getting on top of their more fancied rivals. However a match-winning try from Bob McCarthy showed the experience of the Rabbitohs, who won their fourth title in a five-year period. Souths hooker George Piggins was hailed as a hero, playing himself to a standstill in what was ultimately a closely fought encounter.
The premiership victory remains South Sydney's most recent to date.
South Sydney 16 (Tries: Branighan, Coote, McCarthy. Goals: Simms 3. Field Goal: Simms.)
St George 10 (Tries: Beath, Walton. Goals: Langlands 2.)
- Middleton, David (2008). League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia. National Museum of Australia. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-876944-64-3.
- Rugby League Tables - Season 1971 The World of Rugby League
- Results:1971-80 at rabbitohs.com.au
- 1971 J J Giltinan Shield and WD & HO Wills Cup at rleague.com
- NSWRFL season 1971 at rugbyleagueproject.com