First Encounters: Bulldogs v Rabbitohs

We have dusted off the history records at Bulldogs HQ to bring you all the information from the first time the Bulldogs ever played against the South Sydney Rabbitohs!


The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs took on South Sydney for the first time in the 1935 NSWRFL season when the Bulldogs were was first established. Since then, the Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs have had a fierce rivalry that has lasted almost 80 Years.


Author of Bulldogs Story Gary Lester detailed the lengthy process that club officials went through to establish Canterbury as a NSWRFL franchise:


In 1930, club officials met to discuss the future of the Canterbury area. It was deemed then unofficially by NSWRL officials that the area was not ready for elevation. Yet in 1931, the club won the President's Cup for the first time, a reminder to the league, at least, that the junior strength of the area could not be denied.


The next attempt to convince the league that Canterbury deserved first grade status was made in 1933, but according to Jack Ford, a secretary of both the junior league and later, the district club: The league told us to come back when we were stronger.


It was also significant that neighbouring clubs, St George, Newtown and Wests were strong in those years Saints and Newtown playing out the 1933 final and the inclusion of Canterbury to grade would reduce their junior league strength. Such a prospect did not delight them.


But these were tough times, as one would expect. Ford recalled that the junior league grounds were controlled by the council and they charged threepence entrance fee. Thirty three per cent of the gate went to the Lady Mayoress' clothes fund, said Ford. Ford also rode his bike from Punchbowl to Earlwood each week to supply the local paper with results of the weekend's matches.


Local officials persisted in their attempts to convince the head body that the area was ready for promotion. On May 14, 1934, they held a meeting to enlist public support for their plans.


Canterbury had two municipalities to consider Bankstown and Canterbury. The Canterbury municipality had an area of 17 square miles and a population of 85,000 while Bankstown municipality contained 28,000 people in 29 square miles. Canterbury officials claimed that the areas were not adequately catered for by the St George, Wester Suburbs and Newtown district clubs.


In the district at the time was Alderman Stan Parry, the Mayor of Canterbury. He was a well-respected member of the community, a livewire who dabbled in real estate. Parry had developed a love for the game and with his alderman, gave Canterbury every support in their venture. It was the kind of encouragement that was not lost on the NSWRL.


Then, on June 26, 1934, at a public meeting at Campsie Dispensary Hall, it was resolved that this public meeting of Rugby League supporters consider the time opportune for the formation of a District Grade Club in the Canterbury Bankstown Municipality. The resolution was carried unanimously and this time the feeling of optimism was strong. How long could the NSWRL deny these persistent officials?


After a series of meetings with adjoining clubs and a special committee of the NSWRL, the Canterbury officials were advised on September 25, 1934 that they had been successful. They would be part of the NSWRL premiership in 1935.



The first Canterbury side started training at McMahons paddock and had to endure through cold showers in an old tin shed that was used as the dressing room.


The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs were coached by Tedda Courtney who played 304 games during 1908 and 1925 across various clubs. Teddas son Harold played with Canterbury in 1935 in the second row.


The Inaugural captain of Canterbury was Jack Morrison who captained the side for 6 matches during 1935 and 1936. Unfortunately Canterbury were only successful in winning one of those matches during Morrisons captaincy.


The first Bulldogs v Rabbitohs game was played at Marrickville Oval on the 27th of April 1935 in round 2 of the NSWRFL season. South Sydney were victors on the day winning 37 points to 9.


For the full match report and much more, check out the Bulldogs Online History Database: