Rugby league in South Australia

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Rugby league in South Australia is a minority sport, played at amateur level.


Rugby league in the state traces its roots in the state back to the 1940s, when the Port Adelaide rugby union team split, and defected to rugby league.

Big time rugby league came to South Australia on 28 June 1991 when the St George Dragons defeated the Balmain Tigers in front of 28,884 fans at the Adelaide Oval for their Round 14 match of the 1991 NSWRL season. This would be the first of five consecutive years the Dragons (sponsored by South Australian wine company Penfolds) would play one home game per season at the Adelaide Oval. The attendance also stood as the NSWRL's largest minor round attendance of the 1991 season.

South Australia's only professional rugby league team, the Adelaide Rams, had a short but eventful existence. Originally the Australian Rugby League (ARL) planned to relocate one of the struggling Sydney teams to Adelaide, but the Super League war and the SARL's decision to align themselves with the News Ltd financed Super League in 1995 killed off the ARL's want for a team in Adelaide, and the ARL turned its attention back to Melbourne instead. Later in 1995, with Super League still only consisting of nine teams and the Victorian Rugby League still aligned with the ARL, a decision was made to give Adelaide the 10th Super League licence.[1]

In 1995 the ARL won their Supreme Court battle with Super League which stopped the rebel competition from starting its first season in 1996. This proved only temporary however as the decision was overturned on appeal and Super League would begin their new competition in 1997 with the Adelaide Rams one of the teams to be playing.

Brought into existence for the 1997 Super League season, the Rams had instant success, attracting 27,435 to their first home game at the Adelaide Oval against fellow newcomers the Hunter Mariners (the Mariners based in Newcastle, NSW). Results however would prove elusive for the new club who finished their inaugural season in 9th place, though they did enjoy some success against stronger clubs, with wins over the Auckland Warriors (away), eventual Grand Finallists Cronulla (away), and the Penrith Panthers in their final home game of the year.

In 1998 they were selected to join the 20-team National Rugby League, however rumours abounded that they were to axed from the 1999 season as part of the rationalisation of teams (from 20 to 16) in the competition. Crowd numbers fell away in 1998 as on-field results continued to elude the team, and a dispute over playing at the Adelaide Oval saw the Rams move to Hindmarsh Stadium for the final four rounds of the season. Poor on field results also resulted in inaugural head coach Rod Reddy being sacked halfway through the season and replaced by Dean Lance. The Rams finished what was their final season in 17th place with a 7-17 win-loss record.

The club got as far as their season launch for the 1999 NRL season before the clubs owners News Ltd agreed to wind up the club before the season started.

Governing body[edit]

The South Australian Rugby League is responsible for administering the game of rugby league in South Australia. South Australia is an Affiliated State of the overall Australian governing body the Australian Rugby League.

State competitions[edit]

There are five senior clubs and six junior clubs located around Adelaide. Competitions are run from Under 7s through to First Grade.

Representative teams are selected each year to compete in the Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League (ASSRL) National Championships at both 15 and 18 years of age respectively, competing against Western Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory and New South Wales Combined Independent Schools (NSW CIS) at both age levels. Players who compete representing South Australia each year are eligible to be selected into both the Australian Merit Squad and the Australian Affiliated States Merit Squad at the 15 Years championships, and the Australian Schoolboys as well as the Australian Affiliated States team at the 18 Years championships.

Premiership Clubs[edit]

Club Suburb Ground
Central Districts Roosters Elizabeth, Gawler Argana Park, Elizabeth East
Cougar Districts Port Adelaide Langham Place
Eels Rugby League Parra Districts, Salisbury, Golden Grove Cnr. Flame Av. & Churchhill Rd North,Dry Creek
Northern Districts Kensington
South Adelaide Hackham Hackham Community Sports and Social Club
Tigers Rugby League Mitchell Park Mitchell Park Sports & Community Club

Representative Team[edit]

The South Australian state team play in the Affiliated States Championship along with the other three affiliated states (Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia) plus the Australian Police and Australian Defence Force.

Notes and references[edit]

This article incorporates content from the South Australian Rugby League article.

In 1994 and 1995 the then West End XIII played Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as the curtain raiser game for the State of Origin games in those years. In 1994 the South Australian side had the priverlidge of being one of the first Rugby League sides to play at that venue in nearly 80 years.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]