Country Rugby League
|Country Rugby League|
|Responsibility||Non-metropolitan New South Wales|
|Key people||Jock Colley (Chair)
Terry Quinn (Chief Executive)
As of 1 December 2009
The Country Rugby League of New South Wales (CRL), formed in 1934, is the governing body for the sport of rugby league football in areas of New South Wales outside the Sydney metropolitan area. Despite its name, CRL also governs rugby league in the Australian Capital Territory. Apart from selecting a Country Origin side to play in the annual City vs Country Origin game, the CRL administers a large number of senior and junior competitions across the state.
On 11 February 1911, the Hunter District Rugby Football League (HDRFL) was established at a large meeting in Maitland, thus becoming the first branch of the NSW Rugby League in "the bush" (i.e. outside the urban centres of Sydney and Newcastle). The HDRFL territory encompassed a lower part of the Hunter Valley from Singleton down to the Maitland district and towns on the nearby coalfields (the major ones being Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and Weston). Competition games were scheduled to kick off on 13 May but were pushed back to 20 May when clubs complained they had not had enough time to practice the new code. In the first senior-grade games played, West Maitland def. Kurri Kurri (12-0) and Cessnock def. Morpeth (23-0) in a double-header on the enclosed Albion Ground at Maitland. The first City v. Country match (advertised as such by the NSWRL in the Sydney Morning Herald of 10/6/1911) was played at the Sydney Agricultural Ground on that same Saturday, with City winning 29-8. The Country team was composed exclusively of players from the Newcastle ("Northern") and the Hunter competitions. The first ever country divisional match (described as such in the Maitland Daily Mercury of 31/7/1911) was played at Newcastle on 29/7/1911 between Newcastle and Hunter. Newcastle won 29-14. The first NSW Country team to tour was a squad of 17 players (12 from Newcastle and 5 from Hunter) that played three matches in Queensland between 5/8/1911 and 12/8/1911, defeating the Queensland State side twice and a Queensland Country representative side once. They then travelled to Sydney to play the Sydney Metropolitan team, again winning 31-24.
On 13 May 1911, another branch of the NSWRL was established in the Wollongong area.
In 1911, a Goldfields' League was formed in West Wyalong, and games were played in Tamworth, Aberdeen, and along the South Coast. The game was introduced to Orange in 1912 and spread quickly through the western districts. In 1913 branch leagues were formed at Bathurst, Dubbo, Nowra, and Tamworth.
In 1920, the NSWRL set up a Country Committee. NSW Country was divided into six sections: South Coast, Northern Districts, Central Northern Districts, Western Districts, Southern, and North Coast. The group system was introduced in 1922, with neighbouring towns being organised into 12 groups.
The Country Rugby League (CRL) was officially formed in 1934, "subject to the NSW Rugby League still being the paramount institution."
In 1939 a dispute arose between the CRL and the NSWRL. The CRL wanted a new administration structure, an equal partnership in which the NSWRL looked after league in Sydney, and the CRL looked after it in the bush. When their proposal was rejected the CRL broke away from the NSWRL for a week, but returned to the fold with a promise that a committee would be set up to sort things out. Eventually the CRL gave in on the grounds that it was in no one's best interests to have the game divided during the war.
The NSWRL and CRL have since cooperated in the running of Rugby league in NSW, including various 'joint ventures' such as the Ron Massey Cup which features three teams from areas under the control of the CRL.
The CRL administers the following senior competitions:
Region 1 – East Coast Dolphins
Region 2 – Greater Northern Tigers
Region 3 – Bidgee Bulls
Region 4 – Western Rams
Region 5 – Greater Southern
Region 6 – Newcastle Rebels
- Group 1 Rugby League - merged with Group 18 to form Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (still hold junior competitions)
- Group 5 Rugby League - now forms part of Group 19
- Group 8 Rugby League - dissolved into ACTRL in 1982, now Canberra Rugby League
- Group 12 Rugby League - reformed as the Outback Rugby League in Region 4 (Western Rams)
- Group 13 Rugby League - now part of the Group 9 Rugby League in Region 3 (Bidgee Bulls)
- Group 15 Rugby League
- Group 17 Rugby League - now part of the Group 20 Rugby League in Region 3 (Bidgee Bulls)
- Group 18 Rugby League - merged with Group 1 to form Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (still holds junior competitions)
- Sunraysia-Riverlands Rugby League (reformed briefly as a singular side in 1997 in Group 12, later reformed as the Sunraysia Rugby League).
- Group 6 Northern Junior League - clubs of the former CRL territory of the Campbelltown LGA, incorporated into the NSWRL Newtown- Campbelltown JL of 1984, now the Western Suburbs District Junior League since 1987.
Team of the Century
In 2008, rugby league football's centenary year in Australia, the Country Rugby League named its 'Team of the Century':
- Clive Churchill (Central Newcastle)
- Brian Carlson (North Newcastle)
- Eddie Lumsden (Kurri Kurri)
- Michael Cronin (Gerringong)
- Graeme Langlands (Wollongong)
- Bob Fulton (Wests Wollongong)
- Andrew Johns (Cessnock)
- Steve Roach (West Wollongong)
- Ian Walsh (Condobolin)
- John Donnelly (Gunnedah Bulldogs)
- Herb Narvo (North Newcastle)
- Bradley Clyde (Belconnen United)
- Wally Prigg (West Newcastle)
- "Committees". Country Rugby League of New South Wales. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- "COUNTRY RUGBY LEAGUE OF NEW SOUTH WALES INC CONSTITUTION – ADOPTED 27/11/99" (PDF). Country Rugby League of New South Wales. 2008-02-08. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- "Reference Centre > NRL History & Structure". National Rugby League. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- Cessnock Rugby League Football - The Early Years; Mark Bennis; 2011
- abc.net.au (1 May 2008). "Three Immortals in best Country side". ABC News. Retrieved 19 November 2011.