The History of
Rugby League in
Western Australia

Welcome to the History of Rugby League in Western Australia. A rich and diverse historical account of our great game in WA; where it started and how it progressed, complete with hundreds of archive clippings and images going back over 70 years. We hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane.

"Dedicated to all who have pulled on a jumper and gone into battle"

If you would like to contribute, please contact via the dropdown contact link.

Thank you

Rod Fielding

Early Rugby in Western Australia

Between 1882-1884 Rugby was played in an ad hoc way between three clubs.

A Brief Moment in Time

A Brief History of the Early Days of Rugby League in WA.

The Early Beginnings

Rugby League from some accounts was first played in Western Australia in 1926.

The 1946 “Indomitables”

The 1946 Great Britain side “Indomitables” visited WA in April 1946 .... rugby league was 2 years off being launched in Western Australia.

Founding Fathers

These brave and pioneering men took the initial steps to establish the game of Rugby League in WA.

1947 - The First Meetings

It was after the 1947 Rugby Union Grand Final that Bob Chester and Jim Carroll talked about taking an exhibition game to Bunbury.

Foundation Clubs

Five first grade clubs involved in 1948 -Fremantle, South Perth, Cottesloe .Perth and Palmyra(who dropped out after 2 rounds) . By 1949 two more clubs had entered Eastern Suburbs and Applecross.

Fremantle

Fremantle was originally a Rugby Union Club and in 1948 after a series of meetings moved to Rugby League.

South Perth

In January 1948 a special meeting of the South Perth Rugby Club was held at the Mends Street Hall on Mill Point Road.

Cottesloe

Initial Meetings were held at Alex Mathesons house and he described the early days at the Cottesloe club as 'tough'.

Perth

Perth Rugby League Club adopted the Myrtle Green and Cardinal Red colours of South Sydney, and joined the WARL in 1948.

The First Goalposts

The First Game was planned -But where were the goal posts coming from? With less than a week’s preparation this was a big task.

History unfolds on the Esplanade

On the 17th April 1948 at 12.15pm 35 brave men ran onto the Esplanade.

Game One- WA State

The WARFL side played their first ever State game against South Australia on the 24th July 1948 at the WACA.

WA to play Australia

Storms in the Bight results in the game scheduled for Subiaco Oval on Monday 16th August 1948 being cancelled.

1948 Premiership to South Perth

South Perth defeats Fremantle 19-5 to claim first WARFL premiership.

Bomber Pilot stars in first Premiership

A World War two Bomber pilot stars in the first WARL Premiership.

The First Night Game 1949

A truly Historical visit in 1949 by Balmain to Western Australia to play four games against the senior State team.

Inaugural Brice Trophy 1950

In 1950 a young 22-year-old Cottesloe Centre in Tom Myles was awarded the the first Brice Trophy.

Applecross Juniors The First

The first junior rugby league game in WA was between Applecross and Eastern Suburbs in 1949 and ended in a 3 all draw with one try apiece.

The Hurlingham Flying Pigs

A vacant paddock and the promise of free milk was the catalyst to start a junior rugby league team out of the Hurlingham State Housing Estate.

Tribute to the Pioneers 1948-1954

GORDON SQUIRE

Gordon Squire was a founding member of the Western Australia Amateur Rugby League, becoming the WARFL's first chairman.

Learn More

ROY WILLIAMS

Roy Williams was elected the first secretary/treasurer of the new WARFL in February 1948. Refereed the first game at the Esplanade.

Learn More

KEN ALLEN

League legend Ken Allen was a life member of the WARL, the WARLRA and of his club Fremantle, Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2019.

Learn More

JIM BURNS

Former union State player Jim Burns was a driving force behind the establishment of the game in WA and the WARFL's first president.

Learn More

ALEX MATHESON

Alex Matheson described the early days at Cottesloe as tough but said there were plenty of 'fine fellows' to help.

Learn More

ALF SCHAFFER

Alf Schaffer attended the first meetings of the game in Daglish, along with an number of other key identities.

Learn More

ROGER UTTING

Roger became the first secretary and captain of the Cottesloe Districts rugby league club in 1948. Refereed first grade.

Learn More

VIC HODGKISS

Vic Hodgkiss was the first president of the Cottesloe club, & Founding member of group who helped set up the code.

Learn More

BARNEY SILBERT

In 1947 during discussions regarding switching to the game of rugby league, Silberts Shoe store became a meeting place.

Learn More

BOB CHESTER

In April, 1948 Bob Chester stepped out to represent Perth District against Fremantle District in the first game.

Learn More

DR E R DERMER

Dr Dermer was always pushing rugby’s cause on the local council’s boards and he had a wonderful friendship with Mr Frank Gibson which resulted in Fremantle obtaining a permanent ground at Gibson Park

Learn More

FRANK BAGULEY

Frank Baguley-The Baguley family had a big footprint in the Fremantle club and he was a founding father of the WARL.

Learn More

DOUG TONKIN

Doug Tonkin was a member of the 1947 Fremantle first grade side and the 1950 Fremantle WARFL premiership team.

Learn More

KEITH INGRAM

Keith Ingram was one of the 34 players who took part in that first game on the Esplanade in April 1948.

Learn More

FRANK HUDSON-TAYLOR

Frank Hudson Taylor was one of the Founding Fathers of the WARL and served on the Board from 1948 to the mid 1950's.

Learn More

JIM CARROLL

Jim Carroll was 32 when he partnered Sam Cohen in the centres for Perth Districts on April 17, 1948.

Learn More

ARTHUR FOLWELL

The NSWRL helped Kangaroo Arthur Folwell reside in Perth to assist in the development of the game in WA.

Learn More

MAX BRICE

WARL life member Max Brice was a foundation member of the Applecross club, WARFL vice president and chairman.

Learn More

BOB WILLIAMS

Bob Williams played league until he was 40, ending with a third grade premiership as player-coach at North Beach in 1969.

Learn More

BOB QUINLAN

Bob Quinlan was known as a determined winger and a strong runner and a solid defence when he debuted in 1951,at 20.

Learn More

COLE BROTHERS

The Cole family of Sid, Malcom and Owen played for Canning Districts, Perth Rabbitohs and Belmont rugby league club.

Learn More

DAN FOGERTY

Dan Fogerty was treasurer and a first team player of the South Perth rugby club in 1948, when they decided to form the WARFL.

Learn More

COLIN KELLY

Colin Kelly was a pioneer referee in the early days of the game, along with Ken Allen, Doug Cohen and Alf Dickson.

Learn More

JACK McKINNON

Jack McKinnon joined Cottesloe in 1952 , he won the premiership in his first year of becoming the Tigers coach in 1955.

Learn More

MAX WHITE

Policeman Max White joined South Perth in 1946, and was a member of the club's first league season in 1948, at fullback.

Learn More

RON HUDSON

A life member of the WARL, president of the WARL 1972-76, Ron Hudson helped establish Applecross in the competition.

Learn More

RAY MOORE

Ray Moore was born in Sydney where he attended St Patricks College Strathfield. He played for the schools first XIII 1936 -1940 and captained the side in last two years. He joined the Navy in 1943 and was discharged in 1946. He then moved to Perth.

Learn More

BOB 'RED' ROSSER

Bob 'Red' Rosser started his career with Fremantle in 1949 as a junior and by 1954 was a first grade star with the club.

Learn More

FRANK MORGAN

Centre Frank Morgan debuted for WA in 1953, and played for Cottesloe and Fremantle, as vice-captain of the latter in 1955.

Learn More

GEORGE HUTCHINSON

George Hutchinson made his debut for Cottesloe in 1951, aged 16. Tigers president-1972-75 , Treasurer from 1966-1971 .

Learn More

JIM & GLORIA BURROWS

Jim and Gloria Burrows joined the club in 1950's and became lifetime supporters of the Bulldogs club.

Learn More

ERIC PASCOE

A speedy, rugged second rower, Eric Pascoe made his debut for Western Australia against Great Britain in June 1957.

Learn More

GERRY GREEN

World War 2 commando Gerry Green, who played for South Perth, represented WA three times against Balmain in 1949.

Learn More

JACK COUSINS

Centre Jack Cousins was one of six Cottesloe union players to switch to rugby league in 1948. State Player 1948 and 49.

Learn More

GRAHAM WASHINGTON

Cottesloe Tigers Graham Washington played the first game in WA against Perth Districts on April 17, 1948.

Learn More

JIM CASEY

'Tough as nails' hooker Jim Casey drove from York to Perth every weekend to play for the Nedlands club in the early 1950s.

Learn More

JOE McGUINNESS

Fullback Joe McGuiness came to league in 1948 when the Fremantle club moved in its entirety to play the code.

Learn More

JOHN POPE

Tough forward John Pope's visits to the league judiciary were legendary, where it is said he had his own 'permanent' seat.

Learn More

KAILIS BROTHERS

The Kailis brothers were part of the Hellenic club, but are more famous for their family fishing business.

Learn More

KEN KENNEDY

Centre, WA State player and coach Ken Kennedy helped form the Canning Districts rugby league club in 1952.

Learn More

NORMAN PLESTER

Norman Plester played for South Perth from 1951-1956, playing over 100 games and represented Western Australia 11 times.

Learn More

R & J GRAFFIN

Ray and John Graffin became the first brothers to play for Western Australia in 1959 in a match against NSW Country.

Learn More

ROBERT PATCHING

Robert Patching helped South Perth win their third premiership in 1952 after taking out the Brice Trophy a year earlier, aged just 19.

Learn More

RON KIDNER

All-round sportsman Ron Kidner played for Cottesloe from 1951-57, and for the WA state side that toured NSW, SA and NT in 1957.

Learn More

TOM MYLES

Young Cottesloe centre Tom Myles won the Brice Trophy at 20 and captained the first West Australian State team to tour NSW in 1952.

Learn More

SAM COHEN

Sam Cohen played for Perth, the Rabbitohs and represented WA in 1948 as a front rower, and in 1949 against SA as a centre.

Learn More

STAN SAXON

Halfback Stan Saxon was just 18 when he made his WA State debut against touring rugby league giants Balmain in 1949.

Learn More

TERRY SULLIVAN

Terry Sullivan played for Fremantle Districts vs Perth Districts in the first game at the Esplanade on April 14, 1948.

Learn More

WILLIAM HILLIER

Victoria Park/Canning Lock Bill Hillier won the Brice Trophy twice (1956 and 1961) and played 18 time for WA, captaining the State twice.

Learn More

FRANK TESTER

Frank started his playing career in 1950 at Peake Park in Carlisle with the Eastern Suburbs Club who entered the first grade competition in 1949.

Learn More

THE PALMYRA SEVEN

Seven brave young men from the Palmyra Rugby Union club broke ranks to play in that inaugural game at the Esplanade on April 17th 1948.

Learn More

OTHERS TO REMEMBER

The HistoryofWARL acknowledges several players who made a great contribution to the first rugby league game on the 17th April 1948.

Learn More

The Real Legends

Over the years there have been a number of great people within the game in WA who have volunteered their time and resources so the game could be successful

Learn More

A Tribute to those that made WA Rugby League Home.

ANDREW JEFFREY

ANDREW JEFFREY

Andrew Jeffrey joined the Sharks in 2012 from Woolgoolga NSW. Andrew debut for the Western Australia State side in the same year. 100 first grade game player for Sharks.

Read More  
ALEX MORTON

ALEX MORTON

Alex Morton was a Fremantle junior who debut for Western Australia in 2002 in the Affiliated States carnival in South Australia.

Read More  
BARRIE GARVIE

BARRIE GARVIE

Barry Garvie arrived at the Tigers from the South Coast of NSW, in 1977 just as they moved from Harvey Field, Cottesloe to Nash Field Mosman Park.

Read More  
BILL DALEY

BILL DALEY

Bill Daley was the in-form prop of the WARL in 1978 when Victoria Park Canning took out the premiership.

Read More  
BOB BOYCE

BOB BOYCE

Hard running second rower Bob Boyce arrived at North Beach from Queensland in 1982.

Read More  
BRUCE GREENWOOD

BRUCE GREENWOOD

Bruce Greenwood has been President of the South Perth Club for 16 years between 1984 - 2021.

Read More  
BRUCE HOLZWART

BRUCE HOLZWART

Bruce played with Mosman Cottesloe from 1978 – 1986 finishing with a Grand Final appearance against Applecross as Captain Coach and over 150 first grade appearances

Read More  
CHRIS JENSEN

CHRIS JENSEN

Kiwi lock forward Chris Jensen joined Belmont in 1987 after playing in Queensland and France.

Read More  
CHARLIE BURKHARDT

CHARLIE BURKHARDT

New Zealander Charlie Burkhardt came to WA in 1978, first for Canning, then South Perth in 1981 before going to Bayswater in 1983.

Read More  
DANIEL GREEN

DANIEL GREEN

In 2001 Daniel was signed by the Cronulla Sharks and he played for in the NRL competition for Cronulla, Canterbury Bulldogs, and Newtown.

Read More  
DARREN MARSHALL

DARREN MARSHALL

Darren Marshall played over 100 first grade games for North Beach from 1990-2002, winning two first grade premierships.

Read More  
DARREN WATERS

DARREN WATERS

In 1982 Darren had the honour of playing in the Australian Kangaroos against the Western Australia State side as a guest player along with Darren Riley from the Belmont club.

Read More  

A tribute to some of the local born identities of our game