1931 NSWRFL season

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1931 New South Wales Rugby Football League
PremiersSouth Sydney colours.svg South Sydney[1] (10th title)
Minor premiersEastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs (4th title)
Matches played60
Points scored1681
Top points scorer(s)Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Jack Lynch (124)
Top try-scorer(s)Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Jack Lynch (16)

The 1931 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the twenty-fourth season of Sydney’s top-level rugby league club competition, Australia’s first. During the season, which lasted from April until September, eight teams from across the city contested the premiership which culminated in a grand final between minor premiers Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney.[2]

Season summary[edit]

The NSWRFL banned radio broadcasting of its matches in 1931 on the grounds that it was affecting the gates. After a year of broadcasts from nearby rooftops and ladders outside the grounds the League rescinded their ban.


Balmain home jersey 1908.svg
24th season
Ground: Birchgrove Oval
Coach: Reg Latta
Captain: Arthur Toby
University home jersey 1925.svg
12th season
Captain: Sammy Ogg
Newtown Jets home jersey 1908.svg
24th season
Ground: Marrickville Oval
Captain: Jack Holmes
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1908.svg
North Sydney
24th season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Captain-Coach: Tom Wright
St. George
11th season
Ground: Earl Park
Captain-coach: Harry Kadwell

Harry Kadwell Kangaroo.JPG
South Sydney
24th season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Charlie Lynch
Capatin: Pat Maher
Eastern Suburbs
24th season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Arthur Halloway
Pony Halloway 1908.jpg

Captain: Norm Pope
Western Suburbs
24th season
Ground:Pratten Park
Coach: Frank McMillan
Frank McMillan.jpg

Captain: Bill Brogan


The geographical locations of the teams that contested the 1931 premiership across Sydney.
Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 14 12 0 2 339 121 +218 24
2 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 14 9 0 5 250 176 +74 18
3 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 14 9 0 5 220 227 -7 18
4 St. George colours.svg St. George 14 8 0 6 178 183 -5 16
5 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 14 6 0 8 143 198 -55 12
6 Newtown colours.svg Newtown 14 5 0 9 205 194 +11 10
7 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 14 5 0 9 133 205 -72 10
8 University colours.svg University 14 2 0 12 135 299 -164 4


Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Semi Finals
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 16 - 5 St. George colours.svg St. George 21 August 1931 Sydney Sports Ground McGrath 17,561
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 8 - 10 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 29 August 1931 Sydney Sports Ground Webby Neill 20,387
Preliminary Final
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 17 - 3 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 5 September 1931 Sydney Sports Ground Lal Dean 22,767
Grand Final
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 7 - 12 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 12 September 1931 Sydney Sports Ground Lal Dean 27,104

Grand Final[edit]

South Sydney Position Eastern Suburbs
Albert Spillane FB Morrie Boyle
Benny Wearing WG Billy Hong
Jack Morrison CE Dave Brown
Pat Maher CE Jack Lynch
Jack Why WG Fred Tottey
Jim Deeley FE Ernie Norman
Harry Eyers HB Norm Pope (c)
Carl Eggen PR Ray Stehr
Edward Root HK Dick Brown
Frank Curran PR Perc Atkinson
George Treweek (c) SR Max Nixon
Frank O'Connor SR Joe Pearce
Percy Williams LK Les Rogers
Charlie Lynch Coach Arthur Halloway

Eastern Suburbs started the match as short-priced favourites, and ran with the breeze from the western end after their captain Pope won the toss. With hooker Dick Brown dominating the scrums, Eastern Suburbs attacked early. The first points came at the twenty-minute mark when Lynch kicked a goal after O’Connor was penalised in front of the posts. He missed another attempt two minutes later but Easts went further ahead when Lynch kicked another goal, from a drop kick. Benny Wearing had his chance for South Sydney but was pulled down from behind by Dave Brown two yards from the line. At halftime Eastern Suburbs led 4–0.

Five-minutes after the break South Sydney seized control of the match. They attacked desperately as Treweeke, Curran and then Root hurled themselves at the Eastern Suburbs line. A scrum followed and with an overlap out wide Wearing crossed unopposed in the corner. The winger then converted his own try to give South Sydney a 5–4 lead. Eastern Suburbs then hit back with a remarkable try. Billy Hong gathered in his own twenty-five yard area, stepped through the defence to halfway, passed to Tottey who beat Morrison in a race for the ball. Dave Brown missed the goal, Eastern Suburbs led 7–5. South Sydney fullback Spillane then landed a goal from two yards on his own side of halfway to level the score at 7–all.

Hong then went off after twisting an ankle, Eastern Suburbs struggled to contend with the extra man in South Sydney’s backline. Chances followed for both sides – South Sydney’s winger, Why, was thrown out at the corner post, Morrison lost possession close to the line and Brown missed with a penalty.

With only minutes left and scores locked at 7–all, South Sydney five-eighth Harry Eyres seized possession inside Eastern Suburbs quarter, stood still for a split second, then with an electrifying burst of speed exploded through the converging defence. He beat the ineffective tackle of Hong (who had come back onto the field) and with the referee accidentally getting in the way of Brown coming over in cover defence for Eastern Suburbs, Eyres crossed for the match winning try. Hong then collapsed and had to be carried from the field as Williams was converting the try.[3]

It was widely claimed as one of the most thrilling Grand Finals in the short history of the game in Sydney.

South Sydney 12
Tries: Wearing, Eyres. Goals: Wearing, Williams, Spillane

Eastern Suburbs 7
Tries: Tottey. Goals: Lynch (2)


  1. ^ Premiership Roll of Honour Archived 2010-10-11 at the Wayback Machine at rl1908.com
  2. ^ "RUGBY LEAGUE: Grand Final". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 1931-09-08. p. 13. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  3. ^ "South Sydney Premiers: Thrilling Grand Final". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 1931-09-14. p. 6. Retrieved 2009-12-04.

External links[edit]