June 2020

The Grand Final that never was

The story behind a controversy that led to one of the fiercest rivalries in rugby league history.

South Sydney’s second Premiership was attained in circumstances that led to a long running rivalry with Balmain and saw the attempted collapse of the NSWRL after existing for only two seasons. 111 years later, the 1909 non-Grand Final remains the only occurrence of such an event in Australian rugby league history.

Following the birth of the NSWRL in 1908, South Sydney quickly established itself as a dominant force, taking out the inaugural Premiership. They were opposed by the likes of Balmain, Eastern Suburbs, Glebe, Newcastle, Western Suburbs, Newtown, Cumberland and North Sydney.

Cumberland was removed from the competition at the start of 1909, never to be seen again.

In the early years of the Premiership, the game favoured Souths and Easts with matches often played at the Agricultural Ground or SCG, both sides’ respective home fields.

The story behind a controversy that led to one of the fiercest rivalries in rugby league history . . .

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