1943 NSWRFL season

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1943 New South Wales Rugby Football League
PremiersNewtown colours.svg Newtown (3rd title)
Minor premiersNewtown colours.svg Newtown (3rd title)
Matches played61
Points scored1527
Top points scorer(s)Newtown colours.svg Tom Kirk (116)
Top try-scorer(s)North Sydney colours.svg Cyril McMahon (12)

The 1943 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the thirty-sixth season of Sydney’s top-level rugby league competition, Australia's first. Eight teams from across the city contested during the season which lasted from April until September, culminating in the Newtown club’s Grand Final victory over North Sydney.[1]

Season summary[edit]

The season is notable for Newtown turning around their second-last placing from the previous season, becoming minor premiers and later premiers. On the other hand, defending premiers Canterbury-Bankstown had a disastrous season, finishing last and picking up the wooden spoon for the first of only four occasions to date. Eastern Suburbs also slumped from the four to their lowest placing and poorest record since 1929, and were not to recover their former prominence until the late 1960s.[2]


Balmain home jersey 1940.svg
36th season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Bill Kelly
Captain: Merv Denton
Canterbury home jersey 1943.svg
9th season
Ground: Belmore Oval
Captain-coach: Roy Kirkaldy
Eastern Suburbs
36th season
Ground: Sports Ground
Coach: Dave Brown
Captain: Harry Pierce
Newtown Jets home jersey 1908.svg
36th season
Ground: Henson Park
Coach: Arthur Folwell
Captain: Frank Farrell
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1932.svg
North Sydney
36th season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Captain-coach: Frank Hyde
South Sydney
36th season
Ground: Sports Ground
Coach: Jim Tait
St. George
23rd season
Ground: Hurstville Oval
Captain-coach: Neville Smith
Western Suburbs
36th season
Groung: Pratten Park
Coach: Alf Blair
Captain: Jack Whitehurst, Eric Bennett


The geographical locations of the teams that contested the 1943 premiership across Sydney.
Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 Newtown colours.svg Newtown 14 10 1 3 272 143 +129 21
2 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 14 10 1 3 178 131 +47 21
3 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 14 7 3 4 193 124 +69 17
4 St. George colours.svg St. George 14 8 1 5 185 188 −3 17
5 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 14 8 0 6 161 147 +14 16
6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 14 4 0 10 131 214 −83 8
7 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 14 3 0 11 132 176 −44 6
8 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 14 3 0 11 115 244 −129 6


For the second year running, the minor premiership was decided by a playoff and again Balmain failed to win this important match, this time against Newtown. The following week both of these teams lost their matches to lower-ranked teams, and as a result, the victors North Sydney and St. George faced off to decide who would meet the minor premiers in the Final. North Sydney won this match which allowed them to face the side they had beaten two weeks earlier again; this time in the final. Here, Newtown won the match and claimed their third and final premiership.

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Newtown colours.svg Newtown 11–10 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 7 August 1943 Sydney Cricket Ground 47,230
Semi Finals
Newtown colours.svg Newtown 16–21 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 14 August 1943 Sydney Cricket Ground Jack O'Brien 35,920
Balmain colours.svg Balmain 5–12 St. George colours.svg St. George 21 August 1943 Sydney Cricket Ground George Bishop 27,395
Preliminary Final
North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 25–19 St. George colours.svg St. George 28 August 1943 Sydney Cricket Ground Jack O'Brien 41,646
Newtown colours.svg Newtown 34–7 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 4 September 1943[3] Sydney Cricket Ground Jack O'Brien 60,922

Premiership final[edit]

Newtown Position North Sydney
Tom Kirk FB Stan Ridgway
Sid Goodwin WG Frank Collins
Len Smith CE Frank Hyde (Ca./Co.)
Norm Jacobson CE Ted Rudd
Bruce Ryan WG Ray Ainsworth
Tom Nevin FE Cyril McMahon
Paddy Bugden HB Johnny McLachlan
Gordon MacLennan PR Laurie Doran
Jimmy Brailey HK Frank Facer
Frank Farrell (c) PR Harry McKinnon
Keith Phillips SR Max Whitehead
Herb Narvo SR Don McKinnon
Charles Cahill LK Gerald Scully
Arthur Folwell Coach

The Final was played at the SCG before a record crowd of 60,922, though there were thousands more on roofs and vantage points outside the ground. Because of the War all service people got in, if they were in uniform, for free. Norths were missing two stars on active service who had contributed to their season’s performance – lock Harry Taylor and full-back Neville Butler who was killed in an Air Force action not long before the Final.[4][5]

The teams line up before the 1943 Grand final

Police closed the gates two hours before kick-off leaving ten thousand fans locked out. Latecomers offered up to £10 for seats in the stand. The match provided a great betting orgy with bets of £100 common and more than £25,000 laid before the match began.[6]

Captained by the colourful Frank "Bumper" Farrell,[7] Newtown took on the fancied North Sydney side. The men from across the harbour were led by Frank Hyde and his Norths' side had shown no sympathy for his former club, having beaten Newtown three times already that season. Newtown countered the short-kicking tactics of the Bears into an advantage of their own, gaining a strong lead at half-time and going on to win 34–7.[8] The 27-point margin was a grand final record. Stars of the day for Newtown were forward Charles Cahill along with backs Len Smith and Tom Kirk. It was the third premiership win for Newtown, and would turn out to be their last.

Newtown 34 (Tries: Goodwin 2, Ryan, Brailey, Phillips, Narvo, Smith, Farrell. Goals: Kirk 5)


North Sydney 7 (Tries: McLachlan. Goals: Rudd 2)

Newtown 1943 premiers


  1. ^ Premiership Roll of Honour Archived 28 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine at rl1908.com
  2. ^ Easts: Season Summary Archived 19 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ 1943 Grand Final at nrlstats.com
  4. ^ Pollard, Jack (1965). Gregory's Guide to Rugby League. Australia: Grenville Publishing. p144.
  5. ^ Middleton, David (24 April 2010). "Footy stars taken on battlefield". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  6. ^ Pollard, Jack (1965). Gregory's Guide to Rugby League. Australia: Grenville Publishing. p82.
  7. ^ Coady, Ben (28 September 2009). "Grand final dramas". WA Today. Australia: Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
  8. ^ "South's record margin in League Finale". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 24 September 1951. p. 6. Retrieved 20 November 2009.

External links[edit]