South Sydney Rabbitohs (commonly nicknamed "Souths",
"the Bunnies" or "the Pride of the
League") are a team in the National Rugby League
(NRL), the premier rugby league competition in Australia.
club was founded in 1908 and was one of the foundation
members in the then New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL)
competition, predecessor of the Australian Rugby League
(ARL) and the current NRL competition. They are one
of only two foundation clubs still present in the
league, the other being the Sydney Roosters.
Rabbitohs were traditionally based in the south of
Sydney, and have previously played out of Redfern
Oval then Aussie Stadium, but their current home ground
is Telstra Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park.
Sydney are the most successful team in the history
of Australian rugby league in terms of premierships,
winning an unprecedented 20 first grade premierships.
However, they have not won a premiership since 1971,
and last made the finals in 1989.
of the "Rabbitohs" name
The original Rabbitohs emblem introduced in 1959.
One version of how the club got the "Rabbitohs"
nickname comes from their rugby union days at the
turn of the 20th century. In those hard times, players
wearing their cardinal red and myrtle green football
jumpers, earned some extra money on Saturday mornings
by hawking rabbits around the district with the traditional
cry of "Rabbitoh!" echoing through the narrow
streets. As they made a sale, they would sling the
bunny from their shoulder and skin it on the spot,
inevitably accumulating some of the fur and blood
on their jerseys as they did so. When they played
in those blood stained jumpers that afternoon, opponents
from wealthier rugby clubs did not always appreciate
the aroma and would mockingly repeat the 'Rabbitoh!'
version relates that the Rabbitoh name was a derogatory
reference by opposing teams to South's home ground
being littered with "rabbit 'oles". In those
early days Redfern Oval was then known as Nathan's
Emblem and Jersey
South Sydney Rabbitohs 2007 jersey.The "Rabbitoh"
emblem (a white running rabbit) first appeared on
the team's jersey in 1959. The Rabbitoh emblem has
in various forms been carried as the club's crest
on all players jerseys ever since. The "Rabbitoh"
emblem is one of the most recognised symbols in Australian
sport and is regarded as an icon of rugby league in
jersey itself comprised cardinal red and myrtle green
hoops for the majority of Souths' history. Exceptions
were during seasons 1945 and 1946 when the jersey
was green with a red "V" and during the
early 1980s when the so-called "minties"
jersey of green with red and white bands was used
for a number of seasons. Since re-admission (post
2002) Souths have also employed a predominantly white
'away' jersey on occasion. The 'away' jersey was changed
to a predominantly black design for season 2006.
the 2007 season the 'away' jersey would be the same
design as the 'home' jersey (i.e. the traditional
cardinal red and myrtle green hoops design with black
shorts and red and green hooped socks) with the exception
that the rabbit emblem and sponsorship decals will
be black instead of the white decals used on the 'home'
jersey. The 'away' jersey will also carry the name
of a different major sponsor to that carried on the
season 2007, on both the 'home' and 'away' jerseys
the "Rabbitoh" emblem will revert to the
original rabbit design that appeared on the team's
jerseys throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
For more details on this topic, see South Sydney Rabbitohs
South Sydney was the third rugby league football club
founded in Australia after Glebe and Newtown. The
Club was founded on Friday 17 January 1908 at Redfern
Town Hall when J J Giltinan was joined on the podium
by cricketer Victor Trumper and politician Henry Clement
Hoyle before a large crowd of supporters.
took part in the first game of the inaugural competition
when it started on Easter Monday, 20th April, 1908.
They defeated North Sydney 11-7 at Birchgrove Oval.
Souths won the inaugural Sydney premiership beating
Eastern Suburbs 14-12 in the final and backed it up
the following year in extraordinary circumstances
when opponents Balmain refused to show up in protest
of the final being played as a prelude to a Kangaroos
v Wallabies match. South Sydney kicked off to no one
and were declared premiers.
premierships in 1914 and 1918, Souths enjoyed the
first of three golden premiership eras they would
enjoy winning seven out of eight premierships from
1925-32, only missing out in 1930 where Wests broke
through for their maiden premiership. Star players
in Souths first golden era included five-eighth Alf
"Smacker" Blair, Eddie Root, try scoring
winger Benny Wearing (144 career tries), Alf O'Connor
and second row forward George Treweek.
1925 South's won 15 games straight to go through the
first grade season undefeated. The 1925 team is still
the only Souths team to go through the first grade
was Souths dominance in the early years of the rugby
league competition that the Rabbitohs were labelled
"The Pride of the League".
The 1950s golden era
"The Little Master" - Clive Churchill.Souths
12th premiership came in 1950 where they won five
of the next six titles, missing out in 1952 in a very
controversial final against Western Suburbs where
Souths had a fair try disallowed. It was Wests 4th
and final premiership. Leading the charge for Souths
was captain Jack Rayner whose side included Chicka
Cowie, Johnny Graves, Ian Moir, Greg Hawick, Ernie
Hammerton, goal-kicking forward Bernie Purcell and
the great Clive Churchill.
the 1951 grand final Souths thrashed Manly in a devastating
display 42-14. The 42 points remains the highest score
by a team in a grand final.
story of what Souths achieved in the season of 1955
is among the most famous in Australian sport. "The
miracle of '55" was an epic fight in which the
Rabbitohs won 11 virtual sudden-death matches in a
row to steal the premiership. After the first match
of the second round they had been equal second last
on the ladder. In their incredible run home they came
from behind in no less than five matches to win and
earn themselves fourth spot and a place in the semi-finals.
They beat Manly 14-12 in a desperate semi-final. They
were down 14-11 in the final against St. George when
in the dying minutes a try by winger Ian Moir and
a pressure goal kicked by Bernie Purcell got them
home. The grand final against Newtown was a fitting
finale after such a season. Newtown led 11-7 with
six minutes to go. But the never-say-die Souths scrambled
a try to halfback Col Donohoe and converted it through
Purcell to complete the fairytale with a 12-11 last
The heart and soul of the Rabbitohs in the 1950s was
undoubtedly Clive Churchill. Universially Churchill
is regarded as the greatest ever Australian Rugby
Little Master" as he was nicknamed by admirers
was a courageous and genius fullback originally hailing
from Newcastle. Souths signed him up as a youngster
and he would be a central figure in two of Souths
golden eras. Churchill also captained Australia in
a record 24 Test matches but strangely didn't captain
Souths to a premiership. After being the main player
in Souths golden run between 1950-55, Churchill was
back as coach in 1967 to help end the dominance of
St. George and steer the Rabbitohs to their final
The 1960s and 1970s glory years
Souths second golden era ended in 1955 and their final
golden era started in 1967 with the remarkable St.
George era of 11 consecutive premierships in between
two special periods in the history of South Sydney.
Churchill came back to coach the Rabbitohs and built
a premiership team around a tough pack of forwards
including Ron Coote (who was Australia's second best
ever lock after John Raper), Bob McCarthy (who scored
over 100 first grade tries), Gary Stevens, Bob Moses,
John O'Neill, Jim Morgan, Elwyn Walters and inspirational
captain John Sattler.
Sydney goal kicking legend Eric SimmsSigns that a
great Souths side was in the making emerged in 1965
when a then record crowd of 78,056 supporters packed
the SCG to see a young Souths team coached by Bernie
Purcell take on the mighty St. George in the grand
final. Souths had already beaten Saints twice during
the 1965 season and the huge crowd showed up expecting
to see an end to the Dragons' decade of dominance.
Souths showed great heart in going down 12-8 in one
of the most memorable grand finals of all time.
would win four of the next five premierships between
1967 and 1971. In the 1967 grand final Souths beat
Canterbury 12-10 following a spectacular intercept
try by second row forward Bob McCarthy. In 1968 Souths
defeated Manly 13-9 featuring a solo length of the
field try by winger Mike Cleary. Souths lost the 1969
grand final 11-2 to Balmain who devised a controversial
plan of "go slow" tactics in order to successfully
disrupt Souths play. Souths convincingly beat Manly
in the 1970 grand final with halfback Bob Grant starring
with 2 tries. Souths last grand final victory in 1971
saw them beat back a determined comeback by St. George
in the second half to take out the game 16-10.
this golden era Souths backline also had plenty of
class including goal kicking legend Eric Simms, dual
rugby internationals Michael Cleary and Jimmy Lisle,
Paul Sait, Bob Honan, Brian James, brothers Ray and
Arthur Branighan, Dennis Pittard and Bob Grant. Only
Arthur Branighan didn't achieve International status
of the 1970 grand final side that beat Manly 23-12.
Souths was a team of plenty of courage and that was
highlighted by captain John Sattler in the 1970 grand
final when in the early minutes he was "king-hit"
late and unexpectedly by Manly prop John Bucknall.
The hit broke Sattler's jaw but he continued to play
on for the full match and to inspirationally lead
Hard times and an 1980s revival
Financial problems started to hit Souths and key players
from from their grand final sides of the early '70s
headed to either Manly (John O'Neill, Ray Branighan,
Bob Moses) or Easts (Ron Coote, Michael Cleary, Elwyn
Walters) where both those clubs achieved premiership
success after buying the champions Souths produced.
Souths Leagues Club's doors were closed in 1973 but
a 'Save Our Souths' campaign ensured the Rabbitohs
survived. They went through tough times but always
found a way to get by through tremendous spirit and
began to turn around in 1978 when under new coach
Jack Gibson, Souths won the pre-season competition
(10-3 over Canterbury) and finished the season second
in the club championship.
only trophies in the 1980s were the win over Cronulla
in the final of the mid-week Tooth Cup competition
in 1981 and victory in the pre-season 'Sevens' competition
in 1988. In the premiership Souths made the semi-finals
in 1980, 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1989, a year in which
they were runaway minor premiers and also took out
the Club Championship.
1984 Souths came from 0-14 behind to beat Manly 22-18
in a memorable first semi final but were knocked out
the following week by St. George, but their best two
years were 1986 and 1989 under the leadership of Mario
Fenech. The Rabbitohs just missed out on the minor
premiership in 1986 and sadly lost both semi finals
to Canterbury and Balmain to be bundled out.
led from basically start to finish in 1989 remarkably
not losing a single match away from the Sydney Football
Stadium. However, come finals time, they lost a classic
semi-final to Balmain and Canberra a week later powered
home to end Souths best chance of getting back to
the glory years.
from hooker and captain Fenech, Souths stars during
this period included forwards Les Davidson and Ian
Roberts, halfback Craig Coleman and mercurial five-eighth
troubled 1990s and exclusion
More troubles hit Souths in the 1990s where they went
from minor premiers in 1989 to wooden spooners in
1990. It was tough times but led from the front by
George Piggins, Souths again just did enough to survive
in the competition but much of the time made up the
bottom of the ladder. They played some enterprising
footy at times and in 1994 took out the pre-season
competition defeating two-time premiers Brisbane 27-26
in the final.
lack of funds saw Souths unable to keep their top
players (including captain Mario Fenech, Les Davidson,
Mark Carroll and Craig Field) and a lot of talented
young juniors were lost and went on to represent Australia
from other clubs (these included Jim Dymock, Ian Roberts,
Jim Serdaris, Terry Hill and later Craig Wing and
Braith Anasta when the club was excluded from the
outbreak of Super League was going to affect the future
of Souths with the vision to cut Sydney sides with
Souths in the firing line. Refusing to merge or drop
out, the NRL (a merger of Super League and ARL) cut
South Sydney from the premiership for the 2000 season.
The NRL set a bar of 14-teams and with 15 applicants,
Souths were the team to miss out. Souths were finally
starting to show some promise and strong management
in 1999 when the cut came.
Souths fought their way back through the court rooms
and public rallies generating a swell of support throughout
Sydney and Australia as they took on the heavies at
the NRL and News Limited. Souths won re-admission
on appeal during the 2001 season and were brought
back into the NRL competition for the 2002 season.
For more details on this topic, see South Sydney Rabbitohs
Bryan Fletcher playing for the RabbitohsAfter being
ousted from the NRL league competition in 1999, the
Rabbitohs were granted re-admission in 2002 after
court action. Not surprisingly, after having to create
an entirely new team for the season, the Rabbitohs
were not at their former best and performed disappointingly
during their return season. Be that as it may, they
did manage to notch up wins over various clubs, including
two over Canberra. 2003 saw the team finish as wooden
spooners, but they did acquire various new players
including Bryan Fletcher, Ashley Harrison, Justin
Smith, Luke MacDougall and Mark Minichello. Sadly,
2004 was another less-than-successful campaign on
the field. Off the field, however, it was announced
that Penrith CEO Shane Richardson would be quitting
his post there to head up the Rabbitohs.
The season was just two rounds old and already the
Rabbitohs had a thunderous 49-26 win on the board
over the Parramatta Eels. Luke MacDougall scored a
hat-trick of tries with half back Joe Williams kicking
eight conversions and a field goal.
Rabbitohs would be winless again until Round 5, when
they defeated the Newcastle Knights 37-12 at Bluetongue
Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, before a crowd of
the next eight rounds, the Rabbitohs suffered loss
after loss with the only relief being the bye in Round
8. After a promising start, Season 2005 was shaping
up much like the last few years for the Rabbitohs,
but it was not to be.
cite the turning point as Round 13, against the Bulldogs.
Souths held the reigning premiers to a shock 21-all
draw, and thereafter, momentum suddenly seemed to
be swinging back the Bunnies' way. A week later they
hammered Manly 44-6, and though they went on to lose
three more consecutively after that (including a second
to arch-rivals St George Illawarra Dragons), they
bounced back to win 5 of their last 6, beginning with
a 24-14 win over Cronulla at the Sydney Football Stadium,
and highlighted with a hard-fought 16-14 downing of
the North Queensland Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium
in Townsville. Finally overcoming the Bulldogs in
Round 21, the Rabbitohs also defeated the Sydney Roosters
in Sydney 17-16 in a hard fought and spiteful encounter.
in all, Season 2005 was the most promising since re-admission;
under coach Shaun McRae the team were beginning to
look like a renewed force. Luke MacDougall and Ashley
Harrison both had solid seasons, though Harrison left
the club at the end of the season to play for the
form in the latter part of 2005 was excellent and
augured well for 2006. Their reasonably strong finish
handed the bottom place on the NRL ladder to the Newcastle
Knights, therefore avoiding the horrible fate of receiving
three wooden-spoons in a row. Their last match was
against the Sharks at Toyota Stadium (the Sharks home
ground). Souths won this in convincing fashion, with
young five-eighth John Sutton making a significant
Sydney finished the 2005 season level on 23 premiership
points with 2004 premiers the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Souths acquired many sound players for 2006 including
Joe Galuvao, Stuart Webb, Jaiman Lowe and Ben Rogers.
They also re-signed key five-eighth/lock John Sutton
for several years.
coming close, Souths were yet to score a win after
round ten but had showed significant progress. One
area of weakness nominated by fans included the half
back position. An injury to regular half-back Ben
Walker took a heavy toll in the team's performances.
Players who have made a big impact in a losing side
included David Fa'alogo (a New Zealand International),
Todd Polglase and Nathan Merritt.
Peachey came to the club after being sacked by his
English club Widnes. After coming to Souths, Peachey
helped steer the Rabbitohs to an unlucky 2 point loss
to Canberra in round 13. On 11 June 2006, in his second
match for the Rabbitohs, Peachey steered the bottom
of the table Souths to their first win of the 2006
season with a commanding 34-16 win over the second
placed Brisbane Broncos. This was Souths first win
over the Broncos since 1989.
25 June Souths suffered their worst defeat ever, going
down 66-0 to the New Zealand Warriors at Telstra Stadium.
The performance was so poor that the team was booed
off the field by its own fans at full-time which was
extraordinary given the loyal attitude of their followers.
2007 South Sydney recruit Dean Widders playing for
ParramattaSouths second win of the season was against
the Canberra Raiders on 29th July 2006 where they
won 21-8. On the 6th of August, the Rabbitohs then
beat the top-eight placed Penrith Panthers 32-26,
all but ending Penrith's challenge for a finals berth.
The win included three tries for winger Merritt to
take his season total to 20 - the highest season try
tally for a Souths player since the 1950s (Merritt
finished the season as the NRL's leading try scorer
with 22 tries).
Rabbitohs then announced a series of shock big-name
player signings for season 2007 including Roy Asotasi
(prop from the Bulldogs), Daniel Irvine (hooker from
the Bulldogs), David Kidwell (back row forward from
Melbourne), Nigel Vagana (centre from Cronulla), Dean
Widders (utility forward from Parramatta), Reece Simmonds
(utility from St George Illawarra) and Jeremy Smith
(second choice half-back from Parramatta). Of these,
Roy Asotasi, was extremely popular with fans as he
is currently considered by many as the top prop forwards
in the game.
the club had secured Jason Taylor (current Parramatta
coach to be assistant coach at Souths), Mark Hughes
(former Head of Recruitment at the Bulldogs), Errol
Alcott (formerly Australian cricket team's head physiotherapist),
Anthony Mundine (appointed as Indigenous Liaison Officer),
former NZ cricket captain Martin Crowe (as a board
member) and former Kiwi international Tawera Nikau
(appointed as Kiwi and Islander Liasion Officer) as
well as others.
30 August, 2006 Jason Taylor was appointed head coach
in place of Shaun McRae for seasons 2007 and 2008.
a members meeting on 6th December 2006, Taylor nominated
Reece Simmonds and Peter Cusack as the leading trainers
although he refused to confirm who would be captaining
the side in 2007. Taylor also noted that defence will
be a key aspect of the clubs training regime and that
the players would spend 1.5 hours after a match winding
down as opposed to the more recent maximum of 30 minutes.
Privatisation of the Football Club
Russell Crowe, the hollywood actor, has been a fervent
"Rabbitohs" supporter for years, helping
the club during their exile from the NRL. He has been
criticised at various times for being too much of
a supporter due to incidents such as his attempts
to speak to the team during half-time and for his
speeches. After prominent Sydney Rugby League reporter
Danny Wiedler asked him why he did not buy the club,
he initially answered that there would be too many
issues. However he and Peter Holmes à Court
eventually tabled a bid worth $3 million. This was
bitterly resisted by former football club chairman
George Piggins who thought the bid was not enough.
During an extraordinary general meeting of members
on 19 March 2006, the pair won the necessary 75% of
the vote needed.
club was officially handed over to Peter Holmes à
Court and Russell Crowe on 7 June 2006. Holmes à
Court and Crowe own 75% of the shares of the football
club through Blackcourt League Investments. The football
club members own the remaining 25% of shares through
the South Sydney Members Rugby League Football Club.
privatisation is partial only and the broad membership
still retains full rights and effective control over
such items as:
name ("South Sydney District Rugby League Football
Club") and nickname ("Rabbitohs");
home ground being a venue within the South Sydney
District (excluding Telstra Stadium);
entry into a merger, joint venture, amalgamation or
any similar form of arrangement with any other rugby
any decision to publicly list the share capital of
the South Sydney Rabbitohs on the stock exchange.
None of the above items can be changed or implemented
without the approval of at least 75% of the club membership.
a result of the above arrangements, Peter Holmes à
Court and Russell Crowe have effectively gained management
control over the club whilst members in turn have
been vested with true protection and control over
the club's key heritage elements.
Football Club is now united and confidently moving
forward under this unique ownership arrangement.
Revitalisation of the Leagues Club
On 29 November 2006 the South Sydney Football Club
was successful in its proposal for the South Sydney
Leagues Club (which had previously been in voluntary
administration), with Leagues Club members approving
the Football Club's $13.1 million plans for the Leagues
Club's redevelopment by winning an overwhelming 67%
of the primary vote.
ensures that the Leagues Club would remain at its
current location in Redfern, be totally redeveloped
with new Football Club offices, a Hall of Fame, state-of-the-art
gymnasium and with new retail and commercial businesses
operating from its premises. The successful proposal
further ensures that the Leagues Club would be left
debt free and with substantial cash reserves.
would turn the financial fortunes of the Leagues Club
around so as to put it in a position were it can meet
its charter of providing ongoing annual funding to
the Football Club (something the Leagues Club has
not provided for the last 20 years).
Alliance with North Sydney Bears
On the 28th July, 2006 it was announced that the Rabbitohs
had formed an alliance with former first grade foundation
club the North Sydney Bears. Under the agreement the
North Sydney Bears will act as the Rabbitohs
feeder Club in the NSW Rugby League Premier League
competition, allowing the Bears access to players
contracted to the Rabbitohs who havent been
selected in the NRL side.
Sydney Bears General Manager Greg Florimo was quoted
saying Were very excited to be involved
with the Rabbitohs, particularly looking at the moves
Souths have made recently, the move to privatisation
and the strong recruitment drive that has taken place
are very positive moves and were looking forward
to being a part of the future.
with Brisbane Eastern Suburbs Tigers
On the same date a further alliance was also announced
withn Queensland Cup Club Brisbane Eastern Suburbs
Tigers. Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson stated in relation
to this alliance: "There is a wealth of talent
in Queensland and we are looking forward to working
with Easts in Brisbane in identifying the players
we want to come through the ranks and play with our
South Sydney junior players at the Rabbitohs in future
years... these alliances we have formed will allow
us to compete with other NRL Clubs that have established
ties in the Queensland market."
On 19 December 2006, Members Equity Bank was announced
as the club's major membership sponsor for the next
3 years. This is the first ever dedicated membership
sponsorship in the NRL.
8 February 2007, it was announced that Virgin Blue
has signed a two year sponsorship deal with the Rabbitohs.
The Rabbitohs are the first rugby league team Virgin
Blue has sponsored.
Home Grounds and Stadiums
The Sydney Football Stadium as it appears whilst hosting
a New South Wales Waratahs match.Royal Agricultural
Society Showground (1908 - 1947)
Sydney Cricket Ground (1913 onwards)
Sydney Sports Ground (1928 - 1947)
Redfern Oval (1948 - 1987; some first grade matches
played up to 1996)
Sydney Football Stadium (1988 - 2005)
Telstra Stadium (2006 - present)
During the club's early years home games were played
either at the RAS Showground, SCG and later the Sports
SCG was the base for Souths home games during various
seasons (e.g. 1925) though many home games (generally
'match of the day' games) continued to be played there
when Redfern Oval and the SFS where used as the team's
$19.5 million is being spent by the City of Sydney
Council to completely upgrade and renovate Redfern
Oval which will allow the Rabbitohs to return to Redfern
in 2008 with state-of-the-art training facilities
for players and coaches. The upgrade offers the Rabbitohs
a professional standard playing surface and facilities
to allow the oval to be used as their preferred training
ground and for a limited number of pre-season and
exhibition matches. Until the completion of the Redfern
Park renovation, Souths will continue to use Erskinville
Oval as their training base (this training facility
has also been recently signficantly upgraded).
Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Trust has
voted to support the Rabbitohs returning to play at
Aussie Stadium (formerly the Sydney Football Stadium).
As a result it is likely that the Rabbitohs will return
to playing in the Moore Park area in season 2009 once
the current Telstra Stadium contract expires.
Sung to the tune of the Battle Hymn Of The Republic:
Sydney Marches On....
Glory, Glory to South Sydney
Glory, Glory to South Sydney
Glory, Glory to South Sydney
South Sydney Marches On
When speaking of the champions
One stands above the rest
Of glories old and records proud
When often put to test
Of fine traditions, history
That others cannot best
They wear the RED & GREEN
They mauled the Balmain Tigers
Slew the Dragons from St. George
The Seagulls and the Mounties next
Were crushed with mighty force
They humbled Parramatta
And the Berries in due course
They wear the RED & GREEN
They plucked the Western Magpies
Slashed the Newtown bag of blue
The Eastern Suburbs rooster crowed
And then was conquered too
The greatest name in any game
Within South Sydney grew
They wear the RED & GREEN
REPEAT CHORUS (twice)
Cutajar, Russell Crowe
and Keith McCraw (Telstra
South Sydney Rabbitohs (Souths and Russell Crowe surprise Mick Cutajar)
Kind Of Rabbit
HQ (Fairfax) - Rabbitohs
South Side Story
Peter Holmes a Court
Tingle, Mediaman director, before a Channel
31 TV taping at Souths (circa 2002)
Man publicly congratulates and thanks Virgin
Blue on their sponsorship of Souths