Alexander "Alex" Burdon (31 March 1879 – 13 December 1943) was an Australian rugby union and pioneer professional rugby league footballer - a dual-code rugby international.

Alex Burdon
Alex Burdon 1932.jpeg
Burdon in 1932
Birth nameAlexander Burdon[1]
Date of birth(1879-03-31)31 March 1879[1]
Place of birthGlebe, New South Wales
Date of death13 December 1943(1943-12-13) (aged 64)[1]
Place of deathBranxton, New South Wales[1]
Rugby league career
Position(s) Forward
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1908-10 Glebe Dirty Reds 20 (9)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1908-09 Australia 2 (0)
Rugby union career
Position(s) prop[1]
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Glebe RUFC
Sydney RUFC
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Metropolis (Sydney)
New South Wales
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1903-07 Australia 4[1] (3)[1]

He was one of the founding fathers of rugby league in Australia, representing the Kangaroos in the first two Tests played in 1908 and 1909. He was the fourth captain of the Australian team enjoying that honour in the deciding Test of the inaugural tour.

Rugby union careerEdit

Born in Glebe, New South Wales he played first grade for the district from 1902 and the following year represented Sydney, then New South Wales. He made his Australian representative test debut as prop, against the All Blacks in the 22-3 victory in Sydney, on 15 August 1903.

In 1904 he represented against England then toured New Zealand in 1905.

Burdon (back row, 2nd from left) Pioneer Kangaroos 1908-09

Folklore would suggest that Burdon's injury on the 1907 New South Wales Rugby tour of Queensland and the resultant unfairness of him having to pay his medical expenses while suffering a loss of wages, was a catalyst leading to the 1907 split away from rugby union.[2] Similar sentiments in the north of England for working-class players who could not afford time off due to injury had indeed prompted the changes that formed the new "Northern Union" two years earlier. However the movement to start a rugby league competition in Sydney was already well under way before Burdon's injury.

Rugby league careerEdit

Australian Test side v England 6 Jun 1932, Burdon (official) standing far left

Burdon joined the newly formed Glebe Rugby League Club in 1908 and was named the club's foundation captain.

He was one of the five selectors for the Pioneer Kangaroo tour of England. He played in 25 tour matches including the first and second Anglo-Australian Test matches. Eight former Wallabies had debuted for the Kangaroos in the Matches against New Zealand earlier that year, Burdon's league Test debut in the first Test against England with Pat Walsh made them the 9th and 10th Australian dual code internationals. He is listed on the Australian Players Register as Kangaroo No. 29.[3]

In The First Kangaroos, a 1988 BritishAustralian made for TV sports film, Bluey Burdon's role was played by Philip Quast.

Playing recordEdit


  • Whiticker, Alan (2004) Captaining the Kangaroos, New Holland, Sydney


  1. ^ a b c d e f g " player profile of Alec Burdon". Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  2. ^ Cunneen, Chris (2001). The best ever Australian Sports Writing. Australia: Black Inc. p. 314. ISBN 1-86395-266-7. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  3. ^ ARL Annual Report 2005
Preceded by
Denis Lutge
Australian national rugby league captain
Succeeded by
Dally Messenger