Group 9 Rugby League was formed at a meeting in Harden in 1923.
Group 9 currently has eleven Senior First Grade Clubs participating in an 18 Round Competition.
The member Clubs are, Albury, Wagga Brothers, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Junee, Wagga Kangaroos, Southcity, Temora, Tumbarumba, Tumut and Young.
The Competition is now played in four Grades, Under 16, known as the Sullivan Cup, Under 18, known as the Weissel Cup, Reserve Grade, known as the Burmiester Shield and the XXXX GOLD Group 9 First Grade. In 2008 a Ladies LeagueTag Competition was introduced.
A brief history of Group 9 Rugby League By Jack Weeks
Group 9 came into being in 1923 and soon became the forerunner to reform in NSW country Rugby League from then right up to the 2008 Grand Final. For many years it has been the most notable and by far the strongest group in country NSW. It is not possible to talk about group 9 without referring to the Maher cup.
Rugby League may have established itself in the Sydney metropolitan area in 1908 but the progress of this rugby game, played under different rules, into country NSW was lamentably slow. It was not until the end of World War 1 that news of it reached the south west area of the state. Rugby Union was the only football known until then. In fact it has been documented that some parts of NSW had not heard of this new game as late as 1928. Perhaps it was a fear of this new game spreading that enticed Mr. Ted Maher, the publican of the Wyndard Hotel Tumut, in 1920 to come up with the idea of a challenge trophy as an additional competition to counter any progress of the game of Rugby League in the south west of the state. The offer was accepted but the Rugby Union wanted this new challenge competition conducted their way and not the way Ted Maher intended. Nevertheless that year, 1920, Gundagai twice challenged Tumut for the Cup, but by 1921 this new game Rugby League had won over a majority of players and Ted Maher, still not happy with the Rugby Union administration told them what he thought and the Rugby League Maher Cup challenge was on its way.
That is enough about the Maher Cup. It is a story within itself except to say that up until World War 2, it was played on Wednesday afternoon. A surprise for many, but in those days’ shops all closed at lunch time on Wednesday. Probably so they could open, as all the banks did, on Saturday morning. At the “Grand Hotel” Harden on 26th. April 1923 a large number of converts to Rugby League, from most of the south of the state, met and decided to officially form Group 9 Rugby League. No idea where the 9 came from. Ninetenn teams made up the group, Adelong, Ariah Park, Barmedman, Bendick Murrel, Binalong, Cootamundra, Griffith, Gundagai, Harden-Murrumburrah, Junee, Leeton, Mildil, Monteagle, Temora, Tumut, Wagga Wagga, Wambanumba, Wyalong, and Young.
Note: doubtless it will come as a surprise to many of you to hear that Wagga was one of the towns to form the original Group 9 Competition, also it will come as a surprise to many to know that Wagga first challenged for the Maher cup in 1927.
In their wisdom the large attendance at the meeting at Harden in 1923 decided to divide the competition into three areas -- thus eliminating any long distance travelling. But controversy raged the very next day. The meeting went into the early morning, but some delegates had to leave early to catch the last train home and they called “foul” when they heard that those who remained had decided to make Cootamundra the centre of the new group. This meeting at Harden was not the only “first” for Group 9 who soon established themselves as the leading reformists of Rugby League outside the Sydney metropolitan area.
It was in 1934 the state member for Young in the NSW parliament, the honourable Ted Cahill had become very involved in Rugby League and apparently unhappy with the way the NSW Rugby League continued to ignore any part of the game west of the mountains. He convened a special meeting of the Group, again at Harden, where it was decided to call a meeting of all the known league competitions, by now scattered all around the state, to meet in Sydney and form a combined organisation which came to be called “The NSW Country Rugby League”.
And thus was born “The NSW Country Rugby League”.
After the war, it was not just the stories of actual events and hysteria of officials and whole townsfolk that evolved around the Maher cup that captured headlines not just in country towns but also the city press. Another successful reform from Group 9 was in 1958 when they moved the Riverina Division take to the CRL AGM a motion to employ a full time paid secretary. This was accepted by the CRL and John O’Toole was elected.
The Maher cup probably reached its peak between 1950 and 1962.
In 1964/65 all things Rugby League in the Riverina blew up when three principal clubs from Group 9 and five from Group 20 broke away from the country Rugby League and formed their own competition. “The Murrumbidgee Rugby League”. (MRL)This did not happen until after numerous appeals, for boundary changes, to both Groups 9 and 20 and three appeals to the boundaries committee of the Country Rugby League were flatly rejected by all. At the time the CRL was dominated by Newcastle, ably assisted by Wollongong, who adopted a kind of “they are all talk and haven’t the guts to breakaway” attitude. They believed any breakaway would be easily crushed. It was in 1968 that the CRL capitulated totally to the breakaway group. Earlier they had called them “bloody rebels”. The MRL admitted they were rebels but they were “bloody” good ones and rather than being crushed they grew in strength as more of the old Group 9 clubs applied to join the rebels. It was a case of panic stations for the CRL. 1970 was another year of first and reform for what was the new group 9.
1. They moved a motion at a general committee meeting of the CRL that delegates to the Australian Rugby League officially apply to the ARL for country groups to be exempted from the iniquitous transfer system.
2. They moved the CRL adopt a “movement fee” to compensate the loss of income received from their percentage cut of the transfer system fees.
3. They were the first (and as best known) only Group to move “a motion of descent from the ruling of the chair” when the chairman ruled discussion on the transfer system was “out of order”.
Note: it was not long after in the case of Dennis Tutty of Balmain verses the ARL that the supreme court ruled the transfer system was “a restriction of trade and therefore unconstitutional”. The CRL quickly adopted the “movement fee” proposal.
As noted earlier Group 9 scored another first when their 2008 Grand Final match between Tumut and Brothers was the first ever totally national broadcast of a Country Rugby League Grand Final. That broadcast included the full “ABC grandstand” Team and was a major success. Viva la Group 9.