NEW BOOK! “THE FIRST LIONS OF RUGBY” – 1888 BRITISH LIONS TOUR OF AUSTRALIA & NZ. Special offer: $20 incl postage

THE FIRST LIONS OF RUGBY The first British Lions & their barnstorming rugby & Aussie rules playing tour of Australia & New Zealand in 1888. A ripping yarn of rugby! “The First Lions… Continue reading

WHEN RUGBY WAS 20 PLAYERS A-SIDE

WHEN RUGBY WAS 20 PLAYERS A-SIDE written by Sean Fagan The last of the great 20-a-side ‘shoving age’ Rugby matches in Australia was played on Sydney’s Moore Park  in 1874. Rugby today means… Continue reading

WHICH ARE AUSTRALIA’S OLDEST RUGBY CLUBS?

WHICH ARE AUSTRALIA’S OLDEST RUGBY CLUBS? written by Sean Fagan Which are Australia’s oldest Rugby clubs that are still going today, and why are there so few from the 19th century? The Maitland… Continue reading

“THE BEST GAME IN HISTORY”

“THE BEST GAME IN HISTORY” written by Sean Fagan From the distance of 100 years since the start of WW1 it is difficult for us to fully appreciate why men so willingly rushed… Continue reading

‘THE BLOODS’ OF SOUTH MELBOURNE RUGBY

‘THE BLOODS’ OF SOUTH MELBOURNE RUGBY written by Sean Fagan The famous red-and-white strip of the AFL’s Sydney Swans has its origins in a club that once pursued a switch from Melbourne rules… Continue reading

MOB FOOTY DOWN UNDER

MOB FOOTY DOWN UNDER written by Sean Fagan Folk (or mob) football, following its various traditional forms from across Britain, was played in the Australian colonies from at least the 1830s up to… Continue reading

AUSTRALIA’S WEBB ELLIS

AUSTRALIA’S WEBB ELLIS written by Sean Fagan Schoolboy William Webb Ellis first ran with the football, but it took a young Aussie from the The King’s School in Parramatta to show the Rugby… Continue reading

AUSSIE BARBARIANS AT PLAY

AUSSIE BARBARIANS AT PLAY written by Sean Fagan England’s Barbarian FC is Rugby’s most famous ‘itinerant invitation’ team. The majority of the players to have become a ‘Barbarian’ were from the four traditional Home… Continue reading

WHEN THE KICKING TEE COULD SPEAK

WHEN THE KICKING TEE COULD SPEAK written by Sean Fagan It is only today in extremely windy weather conditions in Rugby that we see a team mate hold the ball in place for… Continue reading

WARATAHS OF THE ANZAC BREED

WARATAHS OF THE ANZAC BREED written by Sean Fagan When the Waratahs met the All Blacks in Sydney on 11 July 1914, to open the season’s international games, no one could have known… Continue reading

THE OLD BALMAINS WERE A FORCE

THE OLD BALMAINS WERE A FORCE written by Sean Fagan Revived in 2005, the Balmain Rugby Club was in the code’s pioneering first half century one of its most famous teams. The Referee… Continue reading

AFL WAS THWARTED BY HARD LUCK & DASTARD DEEDS

AFL WAS THWARTED BY HARD LUCK & DASTARD DEEDS written by Sean Fagan Why did Aussie rules fail to conquer Sydney, Brisbane and New Zealand? Listen to AFL fans, and it was all… Continue reading

THE INNOVATOR WHO CHANGED RUGBY

THE INNOVATOR WHO CHANGED RUGBY written by Sean Fagan Kicking the ball ahead in the scrum seems today to be an absurd move, but in the first 50 years of Rugby football to… Continue reading

HURRAH! FOR ‘TOM BROWN’S SCHOOLDAYS’

HURRAH! FOR ‘TOM BROWN’S SCHOOLDAYS’ written by Sean Fagan Much is made of Tom Wills’ “call for football” letter on 10 July 1858, but it was the arrival in the colonies six months… Continue reading

A GENTLEMAN’S GAME PLAYED BY HOOLIGANS

A GENTLEMAN’S GAME PLAYED BY HOOLIGANS written by Sean Fagan No doubt, you’ve come across the witty quote – in various forms – about the football codes and whether a particular one is… Continue reading

“NO, WE SHALL HAVE A GAME OF OUR OWN”

“NO, WE SHALL HAVE A GAME OF OUR OWN” written by Sean Fagan   So what are we to make of Tom Wills’ often quoted declaration that, at the founding of Australian rules… Continue reading

THE RUGBY-PLAYING PADRE

THE RUGBY-PLAYING PADRE written by Sean Fagan British Lions 1899 tour captain Matthew Mullineux was a ‘padre,’ whose life was full of adventure, philanthropy and service to the British Empire. Small of stature… Continue reading

THE AFL SHERRIN : A SON OF RUGBY

THE AFL SHERRIN : A SON OF RUGBY written by Sean Fagan It is claimed that TW Sherrin in 1879 created the first ball designed specifically for Australian rules football, making the ball… Continue reading

BAD LUCK DOGGED FIRST WALLABIES

BAD LUCK DOGGED FIRST WALLABIES written by Sean Fagan “The original Wallabies that flashed off to England in 1908-9 were not the luckiest lot — but they were tip-top fighters, with great courage,”… Continue reading

REFEREES, PENALTIES & BUGBEARS

REFEREES, PENALTIES & BUGBEARS written by Sean Fagan The great bugbears of Rugby are penalty goals and the whim of a referee. Is that fair criticism, or is it simply the nature of… Continue reading

FROM FOOTBALLER TO A SOLDIER

FROM FOOTBALLER TO A SOLDIER written by Sean Fagan Many Rugby players from Australia have served in war. A little known though significant story is that of Sydney University forward James McManamey –… Continue reading

GOULBURN’S GENTLEMEN SONS OF RUGBY

GOULBURN’S GENTLEMEN SONS OF RUGBY written by Sean Fagan Founding a football club in a country town in colonial times was difficult enough, finding another team to play against was often near impossible.… Continue reading

RUGBY’S DODGERS & CHARGERS

RUGBY’S DODGERS & CHARGERS written by Sean Fagan Does an achieved feat have any value if it has been won too easily? William Webb Ellis first ran with the Rugby ball, but he… Continue reading

RUGBY BOOSTED SOCCER’S FIRST WANDERERS

RUGBY BOOSTED SOCCER’S FIRST WANDERERS written by Sean Fagan A-League’s Western Sydney ‘Wanderers’ revives the name of the city’s first “English Association” football club, founded in 1880. The arrival of the club and… Continue reading

THE FIRST FAMOUS MAORI FOOTBALLER

THE FIRST FAMOUS MAORI FOOTBALLER written by Sean Fagan When talk comes around to New Zealand Rugby’s first Maori stars, Tom Ellison and Joe Warbrick are usually and fairly the two names brought… Continue reading

FIRST GORDON, THEN ZEALANDIA

FIRST GORDON, THEN ZEALANDIA written by Sean Fagan In 1889 both Sydney and Melbourne senior Rugby competitions saw the formation of new clubs, comprised entirely of New Zealanders – an initiative analogous to… Continue reading

THE BEST OF ALL GAMES

THE BEST OF ALL GAMES written by Sean Fagan John Chris Watson, Australia’s first Labor Prime Minister, was a former Rugby player, and never hid his love of the code when in office.… Continue reading

QUEEN ANNE’S REVENGE

QUEEN ANNE’S REVENGE written by Sean Fagan “We are going to kill Rugby as dead as Queen Anne.” So reportedly said Essendon football club president, Dr Wilfred Kent Hughes, in Sydney in the… Continue reading

‘GREAT BRITAIN’ v. ‘THE COLONIES’ 1892-96

‘GREAT BRITAIN’ v. ‘THE COLONIES’ 1892-96 written by Sean Fagan An annual Australia versus Great Britain series in the mid 1890s in Western Australia? Well, if we squint a little… Few realise it… Continue reading

‘MAITLAND RULES’ & OTHER LOST CODES

‘MAITLAND RULES’ & OTHER LOST CODES written by Sean Fagan The great pretension of the Melbourne FC and Aussie rules is that their founders in 1859, unlike elsewhere, eschewed the existing football codes… Continue reading

ENGLISH RUGGERS GONE OVERBOARD

ENGLISH RUGGERS GONE OVERBOARD written by Sean Fagan England’s centre Manu Tuilagi farewelled the 2011 Rugby World Cup by jumping from a ferry into Auckland Harbour. Bizarrely, he isn’t the first English rugger… Continue reading

THE FIRST PRINCE OF RUGBY

THE FIRST PRINCE OF RUGBY written by Sean Fagan Mention is often made of the key dates and stories behind the founding of the world’s first Rugby clubs in the late 1850s and… Continue reading

WERE THE SOUTH YARRAS OF 1858 A RUGBY CLUB?

WERE THE SOUTH YARRAS OF 1858 A RUGBY CLUB? written by Sean Fagan Founded at least a year before the Melbourne FC that devised playing laws that became Australian rules, was the South… Continue reading

THERE’S RUGBY, AND THEN THERE’S RUGBY

THERE’S RUGBY, AND THEN THERE’S RUGBY written by Sean Fagan Until relatively recent times in the history of Rugby football, it was not uncommon for a team visiting another nation to encounter different… Continue reading

THEY WORE ALL BLACK BEFORE THE ALL BLACKS

THEY WORE ALL BLACK BEFORE THE ALL BLACKS written by Sean Fagan The 1888-89 “New Zealand Natives Football Team” took their final curtain bow on British soil on 27 March 1889. They were… Continue reading

MUDDIED OAFS OF RUGBY

MUDDIED OAFS OF RUGBY written by Sean Fagan One of the most common epithets applied to a Rugby player is that of being a “muddied oaf”. Though usually given in a light-hearted manner,… Continue reading

RUGGER, SOCCER & FOOTER

RUGGER, SOCCER & FOOTER written by Sean Fagan ‘Rugger’ – along with the etymologically linked ‘soccer’ – came into popular use well over a century ago – from ‘footer’… Few would be unfamiliar… Continue reading

WHAT GLORIOUS CREATURES WE ARE!

WHAT GLORIOUS CREATURES WE ARE written by Sean Fagan By the early 20th century the primary tenets of sound Rugby were team work and combination. Every man had his place and his assigned… Continue reading

GUNPOWDER RUGBY AT THE SCG

GUNPOWDER RUGBY AT THE SCG written by Sean Fagan It took getting Rugby played on the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1870 to really get the code going, but the first game was not… Continue reading

RUGBY’S WILD COLONIAL BOYS

RUGBY’S WILD COLONIAL BOYS written by Sean Fagan Rugby got off to such a violent start in Newcastle in 1869, it was nearly a decade before anyone tried to start it up again.… Continue reading

GREETINGS OF DEFIANCE

GREETINGS OF DEFIANCE written by Sean Fagan The All Blacks have their war cry, but long ago so did the Wallabies and other teams. In 1884 the first New Zealand Rugby side was… Continue reading

THE ORIGINAL SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

THE ORIGINAL SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS written by Sean Fagan The NRL’s South Sydney club rightly takes great pride in their heritage and traditions, the cardinal and myrtle colours, the “rabbitohs” nickname. What few… Continue reading

NEWTOWN’S LUCKY CHARM

NEWTOWN’S LUCKY CHARM written by Sean Fagan Only the Newtown Rugby Club could boast of having Nellie Stewart as “First Lady Patron”. Woolloomooloo’s Nellie Stewart (1858-1931) was the most popular stage performer Australia… Continue reading

JOLLY JUMBUCKS OF THE HOME NATIONS

JOLLY JUMBUCKS OF THE HOME NATIONS written by Sean Fagan Perhaps Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, never really did say, “Being born in a stable does not make one a horse”, but… Continue reading

MARN GROOK & INDIGENOUS FOOTBALL GAMES

MARN GROOK & INDIGENOUS FOOTBALL GAMES written by Sean Fagan It would be a mistake to say ‘Marn Grook’ was the football  game of all Australia before the arrival of the British. As… Continue reading

FAMILIAR JERSEY COLOURS HAVE CHEQUERED PAST

FAMILIAR JERSEY COLOURS HAVE CHEQUERED PAST written by Sean Fagan Rugby football club and national team nicknames and colours are familiar traditions, but their origins are often a chequered history. The British Lions… Continue reading

THE ‘KANGAROO WARATAHS’ 1912 USA TOUR

THE ‘KANGAROO WARATAHS’ 1912 USA TOUR written by Sean Fagan The ‘First Wallabies’ Rugby tour of Britain in 1908/09 is a familiar yarn, but that of 1912’s ‘Kangaroo Waratahs’ to USA? A century… Continue reading

‘DALLY M’ & ‘THE GREEN MAN OF HYDE PARK’

‘DALLY M’ & ‘THE GREEN MAN OF HYDE PARK’ written by Sean Fagan When Messenger first arrived into Rugby fame with the NSW Waratahs in 1906 they called him ‘Dally’, but this wasn’t… Continue reading

WHISTLING RUGBY’S TUNE

WHISTLING RUGBY’S TUNE written by Sean Fagan The debut meeting of NSW and Queensland in the northern state was the first Rugby game officiated by a referee armed with a whistle. Played in… Continue reading

LIONS TOURS – LIFEBLOOD OF AUSSIE RUGBY

LIONS TOURS – LIFEBLOOD OF AUSSIE RUGBY written by Sean Fagan In the lead up to the visit of the first British Lions team in 1888, joint promoter of the tour, English Test… Continue reading