Centenary of Illawarra Rugby LeaguePrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

A sculpture commemorates the centenary of rugby league in the Illawarra in 2011.

The first Rugby League competition in the Illawarra region began just two seasons after the birth of the game in Australia. In 1910 supporters of the new game formed clubs in the Wollongong, Mount Keira and Bulli areas who played 'friendly' games against each other.

A link with Sydney was immediately established with matches organised against clubs from the lower grade Sydney competitions. In 1911 the first local competition was played, involving teams from Dapto, Unanderra, Mt Keira, Helensburgh and Wollongong. The Illawarra competition was suspended during World War One but the game quickly rebuilt and began to thrive over the next few decades.

The first New South Wales player selected from the Illawarra was Archie O'Neill in 1927 from the Wollongong club. He was soon followed by team-mate Fed Buchanan. The first Australian player was Charlie Hazelton - a pacy 19 year old winger from the Port Kembla club - who was part of the 1937 Kangaroos.

From 1946 the region began to play against touring international teams - initially under the name of 'Southern Division' before changing to 'Illawarra' in 1974. That first match in 1946 was against Great Britain at Wollongong Showground. A crowd of 12,000 provided vocal support as their side held on to win by 15-12. This set a trend for following Lions tours and it wasn't until 1958 that Great Britain were able to defeat Southern Division.


Address:Crown and Harbour Streets , WIN Stadium, Wollongong, 2500
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.427214
Long: 150.90205
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:Culture
Approx. Event Start Date:1911
Approx. Event End Date:2011
Designer:Lis Johnson


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 10th December, 2011
Front Inscription

Plaque :

1911 - 2011
Illawarra Rugby League

This sculpture was unveiled by the Hon. Barry O`Farrell MP, Premier of New South Wales on 10 December 2011 to commemorate 100 years of Rugby League in Illawarra

1911 - 2011

The players of the first century were custodians of the game and established Illawarra as "Rugby League`s Nursery of Champions".  The resposnibility for the next 100 years is passed on to the Illawarra Juniors of the future.

Sculptor - Lis Johnson

Plaque :

Major contributors to this historical sculpture and Illawarra Rugby Leagues` Centenary Year in 2011

Gujarat NRE
Coking Coal
New South Wales Government
Wollongong City Council
Cleary Bros.

Dapto Leagues Club
St Georges Leagues Club
Waples Marketing
Australian Workers` Union
BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal
Steelers Club
Wests Illawarra
Illawarra Credit Union
WIN Television
Clubs NSW
Collegians RL Club
National Rugby League
Bluescope Steel
Illawarra Mercury



Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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