1917 NSWRFL season

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1917 New South Wales Rugby Football League
Teams 8
Premiers Balmain colours.svg Balmain (3rd title)
Minor premiers Balmain colours.svg Balmain (3rd title)
Matches played 56
Points scored 1280
Top points scorer(s) Balmain colours.svg Charles Fraser (67)
Top try-scorer(s) South Sydney colours.svg Harold Horder (17)

The 1917 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the tenth season of Sydney's professional rugby league football club competition, Australia's first. Eight teams from across the city contested during the season and Balmain finished on top of the ladder to claim the premiership.[1]

Season summary[edit]

After nine seasons with only nineteen wins and two draws from 115 matches,[2] Western Suburbs finally made a significant impact on the league, finishing a respectable third behind the traditionally strong sides of Balmain and South Sydney. Their advance was almost entirely due to centre Herb Gilbert, who moved from Easts, Hull F.C. and South Sydney to add skill and knowledge to team crying out for guidance, besides scoring nine of the team's thirty-four tries.[3]

Balmain ultimately won their third consecutive premiership finishing eight points ahead of second placed South Sydney. The Balmain side only failed to win one of their games during the season against Newtown in round 8. In fourteen games Balmain’s secure defence allowed a mere 61 points and just nine tries to be scored against them, a statistic indicating their dominance and rivalled since only by St. George in 1963.[4] Annandale managed to avoid bottom spot thanks to Glebe surrendering their two points to them following a 31–5 win for Glebe in round 8. The points were moved over to Annandale due to Glebe fielding Dan “Laddo” Davies – an ineligible player under the residential criteria of the time.

As well as losing Davies, fourteen of Glebe’s first grade players were suspended for a year after the players boycotted a match against Balmain. The NSWRFL changed the venue of the game from the Sydney Cricket Ground to Birchgrove Oval in Balmain, drastically reducing spectator numbers and, in doing so, cutting Glebe's share of the big gate takings expected at the SCG. A team consisting of lower grade players was fielded and Glebe lost heavily, 40–9. The NSWRFL suspended all the footballers who refused to play, including Frank, Laidley and Albert Burge.

Balmain also won the three round City Cup played in the late season. Members of the Balmain premiership winning side included Bob Craig, Bill Schultz and E. Burnicle.


The teams remained unchanged from the previous season.

8th season
Ground: Wentworth Park
Captain: Walter Haddock
Balmain home jersey 1908.svg
10th season
Ground: Birchgrove Oval
Coach-Captain: Arthur Halloway
Eastern Suburbs
10th season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Captain: Sandy Pearce
10th season
Ground: Wentworth Park
Coaches: Chris McKivat & Alex Burdon
Captain: Frank Burge
Newtown Jets home jersey 1908.svg
10th season
Ground: Erskineville Oval
Captain: Felix Ryan
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1908.svg
North Sydney
10th season
Ground: St. Lukes Oval
Captain: Sid Deane
South Sydney
10th season
Ground: RAS Showground, S.C.G.
Captain: Roy Almond
Western Suburbs
10th season
Ground: St Luke's Oval
Captain: Herb Gilbert


The geographical locations of the teams that contested the 1917 premiership across Sydney.
Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 14 13 0 1 269 61 +208 26
2 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 14 9 0 5 236 143 +93 18
3 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 14 7 1 6 162 160 +2 15
4 Newtown colours.svg Newtown 14 7 1 6 114 123 -9 15
5 Glebe colours.svg Glebe 14 8 0 6 207 165 +42 14
6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 14 7 0 7 131 145 -14 14
7 Annandale colours.svg Annandale 14 1 2 11 71 214 -143 6
8 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 14 2 0 12 90 269 -179 4
  • Glebe were stripped of two competition points due to fielding an ineligible player in one game.


  1. ^ Premiership Roll of Honour Archived 2011-05-14 at the Wayback Machine. at rl1908.com
  2. ^ Western Suburbs: Season Summary
  3. ^ Lester, Gary; Clouds of Dust, Buckets of Blood: the Story of the Western Suburbs Rugby League Magpies; p. 46. ISBN 0949853526
  4. ^ http://afltables.com/rl/teams/all/overall_sr.html AFL Tables – Rugby League Season Records

External links[edit]