|Full name||Rupert John Raynor|
|Born||11 April 1921
Coraki, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||17 May 2008 (age 87)
Randwick, New South Wales, Australia
Jack Rayner (1921 – 2008) was an Australian state and national representative rugby league player and NSWRFL coach. His club playing career was with the South Sydney Rabbitohs from 1946 to 1957 and he also represented New South Wales on eleven occasions and played in five Test matches for the Australian national side.
Rayner served with the AIF in World War II in Papua New Guinea. He played rugby league in some inter-regiment games and was spotted by former Kangaroo and South Sydney coach Eric Lewis, who suggested that Rayner try out for Souths once the war ended.
Jack Rayner was introduced to the club by South's stalwart, Eric Lewis. Rayner trialled with Souths in 1946 and was graded straight to first grade. The Rabbitohs had won only one match in 1945. Rayner broke his ankle early in the 1946 season and the club ended up winless that year.
In 1947 Rayner was selected as club captain due to his leadership skills and tough performances as a second rower and the club managed nine wins and began to moveup the premiership ladder. In 1949 he was appointed the coach of the club as well as captain and Souths finished as minor-premiers and managed a Grand final appearance going down to St George in 1949 season decider.
Souths were by now the main premiership force and under Rayner entered their most successful era. For six consecutive seasons from 1950 the Rabbitohs were Grand Finalists, winning premierships in 1950, 1951, NSWRL season 1953, 1954 and 1955. They were denied by Western Suburbs in controversial circumstances in season 1952.
Rayner's fifth premiership win in 1955 stands as the record for the most number of grand final successes by an individual as captain (equalled by Ken Kearney's who also achieved five in 1960). As captain-coach for all of those wins Rayner was the first man to coach a side to five Grand Final victories, a record subsequently matched by Kearney and Jack Gibson and eventually beaten in 2006 by Wayne Bennett.
A knee injury saw him retire during the 1957 season aged 36. He had overtaken Benny Wearing's record for most games with the Rabbitohs.
New South Wales
Rayner was first called up to represent his state in 1947. He made eleven appearances for the New South Wales rugby league team scoring two tries with a total of six points. His last game for New South Wales was in 1954.
He was selected in the 1948-49 Kangaroo tour and played in the first two Tests against Great Britain and in 22 minor tour matches, making the most number of match appearances in the touring party. His final test appearances came on Australia's tour of New Zealand in 1949.
The man and his playing style
The True Blue reference quotes Clive Churchill describing Rayner "He was a brilliant tactician. I never saw a better forward in cover defence on the blind side than Rayner. Jack was the crankiest forward I played with but what a grand fellow he was".
Rayner was a Police Detective by occupation and a man whom the Sydney Telegraph obituary described as renowned for his sportsmanship and dignified manner and who embodied an "Australian tough but fair attitude".
Jack Rayner took up the reins as South Sydney's player-coach in 1949 and held that role for all five of the premiership victories he enjoyed at Souths. His playing retirement in 1957 marked his coaching retirement at the club. Rayner coached the club to 5 premierships: 1950, 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955.
For the 1958 NSWRFL season he took on the challenge as coach at Parramatta who had been wooden-spooners in 1956 and 1957 and consistent cellar-dwellers all through the 1950s. A turn-around proved too much to hope for and the Eels finished last in all three years under Rayner, winning no more than three games in each season.
In 2004 he was named by Souths as Coach of their South Sydney Dream Team, consisting of 17 players and a coach representing the club from 1908 through to 2004. While playing football Rayner served in the New South Wales Police Force and in 2008, rugby league's centenary year in Australia, he was named as captain-coach of a NSW Police "Team of the Century".
- Alan Whiticker & Glen Hudson (2007). The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Wetherill Park, New South Wales: Gary Allen Pty Ltd. p. 455. ISBN 978-1-877082-93-1.
- "Jack Rayner passes away". The Daily Telegraph. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- Churchill quote Heads, Ian (1992) True Blue p191
- Sunday Telegraph 18 May 2008
- South Sydney Dream Team Archived 14 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine. from the official South Sydney website.
- Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League, Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
- NRL Official 2007 Season Guide, News Magazines Surry Hills Sydney, for the National Rugby League
- Heads, Ian (1992) True Blue, Ironbark, Sydney
- Sunday Telegraph, Jack Rayner obituary 18May2008, News Limited, Sydney
- Interview with Jack Rayner at rl1908.com
- Sydney Morning Herald obituary
- South Sydney Rabbitohs obituary