The Birth of Professional Rugby League in Australia: A selection from the Sydne…

Read by Phil Benson

In early 1907 the world of Australian rugby was rocked by the news that a professional New Zealand All Blacks team was set to tour the northern counties of Engliand, where professional rugby had been a reality for more than a decade. The professionalization of Australian rugby was unthinkable, but within a few months the unthinkable had come to pass. The professional All Blacks had played a hastily formed New South Wales team, the great Dally Messenger had joined the New Zealand tour of England, and by 1908 a professional league was formed in Sydney, with several of the teams that play in the NRL today. This selection from the Sydney Morning Herald's coverage of the fierce debate that ensued, shows how concerns for the welfare of the game and players were mingled with class-interest, colonial ideologies and greed for profit. - Summary by Phil Benson (4 hr 31 min)


A professional All Blacks team to visit the northern counties of England 28:25 Read by Phil Benson
A wave of discontent 30:41 Read by Phil Benson
Foundation of the NSW Rugby League 30:35 Read by Phil Benson
The All Blacks arrive 23:21 Read by Phil Benson
The first professional fixtures 27:47 Read by Phil Benson
The 1907 season ends: Rugby union in crisis 29:05 Read by Phil Benson
News from England: The All Blacks tour 21:55 Read by Phil Benson
New clubs formed 16:36 Read by Phil Benson
Professionalism in Australian sport: The debate goes on 36:24 Read by Phil Benson
The NSW Rugby League: The first season opens 27:08 Read by Phil Benson