The Newtown Jets are an Australian rugby league football club based in Newtown, a suburb of Sydney's inner west. They currently compete in the NSW Cup competition, having left the top grade after the 1983 NSWRFL season. The Jets' home ground is Henson Park, and their team colours are blue (traditionally royal blue) and white.

Newtown Jets
Club information
Full nameNewtown District Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s)Bluebags, Jets
Colours Primary: royal blue, secondary: white
Founded14 January 1908; 116 years ago (14 January 1908)
(foundation club)
Exited1983; 41 years ago (1983)
Former details
CoachGeorge Ndaira
CompetitionNSW Cup
2022 SeasonMinor premiers
Home jersey
Team colours
Premierships3 (1910, 1933, 1943)
Runners-up7 (1913, 1914, 1929, 1944, 1954, 1955, 1981)
Minor premierships6 (1910, 1933, 1943, 1944, 1954, 1955)
Wooden spoons7 (1925, 1928, 1939, 1968, 1976, 1977, 1978)

Established in 1908, Newtown were one of the founding members of the New South Wales Rugby Football League. They competed continuously in the NSWRFL premiership until their departure in 1983, the first reduction in the League since 1937. Over this period they won the competition three times.



NSWRFL Premiership


The club was founded on 14 January 1908 at a public meeting held at Newtown Town Hall that had been convened by the prominent Sydney sportsman James J. Giltinan (after whom the NSW Rugby League Premiership shield is named), local MP Henry Hoyle, and Harry Hamill, who was to be the fledgling club's first captain.[1]

Newtown was the second rugby league football club to be founded in Australia and is the oldest in existence. The first club, Glebe, was formed on 9 January 1908. When the 'Dirty Reds' (Glebe) were controversially excluded from the NSWRL Premiership in 1929, Newtown became the oldest remaining Australian club.

There is some discussion however over whether or not Newtown was actually the first Rugby league club in Australia, being formed on 8 January 1908, one day earlier than Glebe. The club's website stands by this claim,[2] however other sources, most notably Terry Williams' book Out of the Blue: The History of Newtown RLFC, dispute this claim.[3] Rugby league historian Sean Fagan similarly holds that the date of 14 January 1908 is the correct foundation day. The minutes of the original meeting held by Newtown's Board shows the date as 8 January.

Newtown (left captained by Frank Farrell) lines up with Norths before the 1943 Grand final.

Newtown played in the NSWRFL Premiership from 1908 to 1983. They won the 1910 NSWRFL Premiership after drawing the final was enough to see them win due to being minor premiers.[4] A Newtown winger, Jack Scott, was the first to score a try in the New South Wales Rugby League premiership.

Known as the "Newtown Bluebags" for most of its lifetime, the club adopted the Jets nickname in 1973, perhaps referring to Newtown's catchment area extending to Sydney Airport. Or perhaps due to the close proximity of the club's home ground, Henson Park, to the major north–south flight path for the airport.

Jack Gibson took over as Newtown coach in 1973. Gibson picked his team solely on form, irrespective of seniority. The great Brian Moore had been relegated to the reserves bench throughout the preliminary rounds of the Wills Cup tournament, and youngsters like Ian Satori, Dennis Gardiner, Peter Parry and Warren Snodgrass were all given a chance in the top grade. The Newtown side for the final was:

Barry Cox, Mark Cohen, Dave Oliveri, John Bonham, John Bradstock, Ken Wilson, Des O'Connor (c), Neil Pringle, Gary Sullivan, Peter Parry, Tom Melville, Mark Robertson and Dennis Gardiner.

The St. George lineup was:

Graeme Langlands, Geoff Carr, Ted Goodwin, Bob Clapham, John Chapman, Tony Branson, M. Shulman, Lindsay Drake, Peter Fitzgerald, Rod Reddy, Inisai Toga, Colin Rasmussen, and Harry Eden.

The Wills Cup Final was played under floodlights at the old Sydney Sports Ground on St Patricks day before a crowd of 13,180. At halftime St. George were up 15-2 and looked certain to win. In the second half the Newtown forward pack gave the Saints a taste of their own medicine which helped gain tries for Melville and Robertson, both converted by Ken Wilson which reduced the St George lead to 15–12. Brian Moore brought on at halftime, scored the final try, converted by Ken Wilson which sealed victory for Newtown in the last minute, making the game one of the most exciting comeback wins in rugby league history.

After Gibson departed the Newtown side as head coach, the club went through another period of decline and finished last in the 1976, 1977 and 1978 seasons. In 1979, the club appointed Warren Ryan as head coach who turned the club's fortunes around again once more.[5]

The 1981 Newtown team, which played in the club's last NSWRL premiership grand final, included the legends of game Tommy Raudonikis and Phil Gould. It was coached by Warren Ryan. Newtown had led the match 7–6 at halftime against Parramatta but were defeated 20–11 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.[6]

Ejection from the Premiership


Along with financial pressures and pressure put on by the South Sydney Rabbitohs to expel the club, the club was forced out of the NSWRL Premiership at the end of 1983. The club continued to seek readmission, pursuing various alternatives. One such alternative, proposed for the 1985 season (after a planned one-year sojourn from the League) involved a full relocation to Orana Park, at Campbelltown in south-western Sydney, and during this period the club was run by its loyal stalwart and CEO, Frank Farrington.

This plan involved a name change for the club, to the Newtown-Campbelltown Jets. The proposal, including a new logo with the new name on the traditional royal blue jersey, was approved by the football club directors. These plans eventually failed, as the economic recession of the early 1980s prevented the club from finding a suitable buyer of the club's key asset, the Newtown Leagues Club located on Stanmore Road, Stanmore.

This left the Newtown club out of the premier Australian Rugby league competitions. In 1988, Newtown was able to sell its clubhouse, now the Cyprus Community Club of NSW,[7] however too much time had elapsed and readmission to the top competition was not considered.

It is worth noting, however, that for a short time in their final season of 1983, Newtown called Campbelltown home. As a show of commitment to the Campbelltown-Liverpool region, with a new junior league structure ready to be implemented at the Jets' instigation for the 1984 season, Newtown played six home games of the club's final season, at Orana Park in Campbelltown, including an opening round blockbuster against 1981-82 premiers Parramatta Eels, won 54-14 by a rampant Eels combination. On August 27 Newtown played its final match in the top grade, defeating Canberra 9–6.

Ultimately, when the final deal between Newtown and the Campbelltown-Liverpool junior rugby league fell through in 1984 and it was confirmed by 1985 that Newtown would not be returning to top flight competition, the Ashfield/Lidcombe-based Western Suburbs Magpies, suspended by the League at the same time as Newtown but having had the financial resources to earn a stay of execution, negotiated a deal for the 1987 season whereby Wests would move all home games to Campbelltown and claim ownership of the vast junior league in south-western Sydney.

Newtown District Junior Rugby League


The Newtown District Junior Rugby League (NDJRL) competition ended after the ejection of the club from the NSWRL premiership in 1983. The NDJRL was absorbed mainly into the South Sydney District Junior Rugby Football League and also a small part into the St George and Canterbury-Bankstown districts. Existing junior clubs that were formerly part of the Newtown district include the Camperdown Dragons (now in South Sydney), Marrickville RSL (now in South Sydney), Earlwood Saints (now in St George) and Christian Brothers' High School, Lewisham who now only compete in school competitions.

Some notable Newtown juniors include, Johnny Raper (Camperdown Dragons), *Ron Sigsworth & Phil Sigsworth (Newtown Hawks), Mark & Geoff Bugden (Marrickville), Grant & Craig Ellis (Marrickville RSL), Jeff Fenech (St. Pius Enmore, Marrickville RSL), Matt and Brad Burke (St. Josephs Newtown), Paul Osborne (Christian Bros Lewisham), Col Murphy (Newtown Hawks), Frank "Bumper" Farrell (Marrickville),[8] Frank Hyde, Brian "Poppa" Clay (St Peters), Greg Pierce (Sydenham), Paul Akkary (St Peters), Michael Speechley and future Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (Camperdown Dragons).[9]



Despite being one of the smallest junior league competitions in Sydney, Newtown District Rugby League Referees Association provided a steady flow of referees to the graded ranks of the National Rugby League and the New South Wales Rugby League. Newtown Junior League was a tough, uncompromising competition so the referees quickly learned to manage difficult players and provide a controlled game.[10][11][12]

The Newtown graded referees included: Gary Bennett, David Bowron, Lyle Buckley, Phil Cooley, Jack Danzey, Cyril Dimon, Grant Heaton,[13] Kim Holwell,[14] Mick Howell, Peter Lucas,[15] Don Macdonald, Terry Murphy, Geoff Norberry, Richie Pierce[16] and Peter Pierse.



The club re-emerged in 1990 to play in the third-tier NSW competition, the Metropolitan Cup, winning the title four times (1992, 1995, 1996 and 1997). The club no longer enters a team in the NSWRL Jim Beam Cup due to it announcing in the off-season after the 2006 season of the NSWRL Jim Beam Cup that it would now only concentrate on the Premier League side.[citation needed] The coach during 1990, 1991 and 1992 was Brian 'Wacka' Wakefield.[citation needed]

In 2000, Newtown entered a team in the NSWRL Premier League, the second-tier NSW competition to the NRL. While a stand-alone club for many purposes, they have acted as a feeder for NRL teams such as South Sydney, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Auckland, Sydney Roosters (until the end of the 2014 season), and as of the start of the 2015 season with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.[17]

In 2006, Newtown lost to the Parramatta Eels 20–19 in extra time in the Premier League Grand Final due to a field goal from Eels halfback Marcus Perenara after three minutes of golden point extra time.[18]

In 2007, the club had a less fortunate season compared to 2006, failing to make the finals or even make the top 10.[19]

On 20 August 2007, a film depicting the club, The Final Winter starring and written by former Sydney rugby league footballer Matt Nable was released in cinemas across Australia.

In 2008, Newtown again made the Grand Final of the newly formed New South Wales Cup. In an extraordinary game against the Wentworthville Magpies, the Jets scored first and led 8–4 at halftime. At full-time scores were locked at 8-8, again forcing the game into extra time, an ironic repeat of the 2006 decider. Finally after 24 minutes of extra time and dozens of attempts at field goals from both teams, captain Sean Rudder erred in kicking out on the full. This gave the Magpies good field position and allowed them to score the winning try in the corner. After the longest ever grand final match, Wentworthville won 12–8.[20]

On 5 February 2011, Newtown played a trial game against long term rivals, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, at a revamped Redfern Oval. South Sydney won 10–4.[21]

In 2012, Newtown just made the finals, finishing the regular season in 7th spot, but reached the Grand Final against the 8th placed Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers, on their way defeating the more fancied North Sydney Bears and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Newtown got to a 12–0 lead before Balmain came back to bring the scoreline back to 12–10 at the break. The lead changed four times in the second half before Newtown ended up winning the match 22–18. This marks the first premiership won by Newtown in the NSW Cup since 1974, breaking a 38-year drought.[22]

On 27 August 2016, Newtown played host to Manly at Henson Park in the last regular season fixture of the year. With less than twenty minutes to play Newtown trailed Manly by 38–12. Newtown then proceeded to score 5 tries in 18 minutes to win the match 40–38. This was also the last game that Manly ever played in the NSW Cup as a stand-alone team due to their merger with Blacktown Workers commencing 2017.[23]

On 18 September 2016, Newtown played Illawarra for a place in the grand final. With under ten minutes to go, Newtown were winning until Illawarra scored two quick tries to defeat Newtown 18–10. Illawarra went on to win their first premiership the next week.[24]

The 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW season was not a good one for Newtown as they finished 11th (Second last) on the table with just six wins all year.[25]

On 30 October 2017, it was announced that Newtown would be continuing their partnership with Cronulla for 2018, acting as the feeder club side.[26] On 17 May 2018, Newtown announced that they had extended their partnership as Cronulla's feeder team for a further five years.[27]

The 2018 Intrust Super Premiership NSW season was a return to form for Newtown as the club finished 3rd on the table at the end of the regular season. In the finals series, Newtown defeated defending premiers Penrith to qualify for the grand final. In the final, Newtown led Canterbury 10-0 early on but could not hold onto their advantage and were defeated 18–12 in a close game.[28]

At the start of the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW season, Newtown began badly losing their first four games before recovering to finish the regular season in 7th place on the table and qualify for the finals.[29]

Newtown would then go on to make the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW grand final after defeating Mounties, North Sydney and minor premiers St George. In the grand final against Wentworthville, Newtown won the premiership after scoring a try in the 88th minute of extra-time at the new Western Sydney Stadium to win 20–15.[30]

The following week in the NRL State Championship final at ANZ Stadium, Newtown player Billy Magoulias set up the winning try with just five seconds of normal time remaining. With Newtown trailing the match, Magoulias kicked over the top of the Burleigh Bears' defence and Newtown player Jackson Ferris raced away to score under the posts to give Newtown a 20–16 victory.[31]

Newtown finished the 2022 NSW Cup season as Minor Premiers but fell one game short of the grand final losing to Canterbury 28-26. On 28 September 2022, Greg Matterson who had been the head coach of Newtown for 15 seasons announced he would be stepping down from the role.[32]

Home grounds


The first home ground of the Newtown football club was Metters Sports Ground in Erskineville or Alexandria on Ashmore Road, next to the owners, the Metters factory, which produced stoves and ovens. Across the road was Erskineville Oval. Generally the crowd attendance there was between several hundred and 3,000. At the season opening in April 1911, 9,000 spectators saw Newtown defeat Balmain 16–3.[33] In those days the ground was often criticised for being too hard, like many others in Sydney, and the grandstand not being "imposing" enough.[34]

In later years, Newtown was at home at Erskineville Oval and Marrickville Oval before the club moved to today's venue, Henson Park.

Attendances at Henson Park are the highest in the NSW Cup.[35] Their attendance is always announced as being 8,972, in reference to a game played at Henson Park in the Metropolitan Cup during the 1990s on a wet and miserable day. The Newtown Jets ground announcer John Lynch jokingly said through the speaker that the crowd was 8,972 even though the attendance that day was below 100 spectators. This figure has now become a part of Newtown folklore and is announced as the crowd at every home match.[36][37]



Current squad


The current squad is made up of the following:

Newtown Jets
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice-captain(s)

Team of the century


In 2008, the centenary year of rugby league in Australia, the Newtown Jets club named an 18-man team of the century:

Coach: Warren Ryan

Coaching register

No. Name Years G W D L % Premierships Runners-up Minor Premierships Wooden spoons
1 Arthur Halloway 1923 16 4 2 10 25%
2 Albert Johnston 1923, 1925–1926 43 14 2 27 33% 1925
3 Bill Farnsworth 1924 8 2 5 1 25%
4 Jack Chaseling 1929 16 10 0 6 63% 1929
5 Charles Russell 1933 16 11 0 5 69% 1933 1933
6 Bill Kelly 1936-1937 22 11 0 11 50%
7 Frank Burge 1940 15 9 0 6 60%
8 Percy Williams 1941 14 6 2 6 43%
9 Arthur Folwell 1942–1944 108 60 4 44 58% 1943 1944 1943, 1944
10 Frank Farrell 1946–1951 108 60 4 44 56%
11 Frank Johnson 1952–1953 36 15 2 19 42%
12 Col Geelan 1954 21 16 2 3 76% 1954 1954
13 Dick Poole 1955–1958, 1966–1968 143 66 4 73 46% 1955 1955 1968
14 Charles Cahill 1959–1961 55 21 0 34 38%
15 Allan Ellis 1962–1965 74 37 3 34 50%
16 Harry Bath 1969–1972 88 33 4 51 38%
17 Jack Gibson 1973 26 16 1 9 62%
18 Clarrie Jeffries 1974–1976 66 19 4 43 29% 1976
19 Paul Broughton 1977–1978 36 2 1 33 6% 1977
20 Johnny Raper 1978 9 2 0 7 22% 1978
21 Warren Ryan 1979–1982 97 47 5 45 49% 1981
22 Brian Moore 1983 26 7 2 17 27%

Honours and records




Youth Team


1926, Newtown vs Souths at the SCG. Souths hadn't lost a match in 1925 nor yet in 1926. Souths took an easy lead of 18–0 well into the second half. With Newtown down to 12 men (no replacement rule was in place) the matched looked like it would be a runaway victory. Newtown however managed to throw the ball around and ran out eventual victors by the smallest of margins, 25–24. The 'battlers' had defeated the 'invincibles'.

27 August 2016, Newtown played host to Manly at Henson Park in the last regular season fixture of the year. With less than twenty minutes to play Newtown trailed Manly by 38–12. Newtown then proceeded to score five tries in 18 minutes to win the match 40–38.



Career records


Most tries

Most points

Most appearances

Season records:

Match records:

  • Most tries: 6 – Jack Troy v Eastern Suburbs, 8 Jul 1950
  • Most goals: 11 – Tom Kirk
    • v St George, 3 Jun 1944
    • v St George, 26 Aug 1944
  • Most points: 25 – Tom Kirk (1T, 11G) vs St George, 26 Aug 1944
  • First Match (in 1908 at Wentworth Park): Lost 16–32 vs Eastern Suburbs
  • First Drawn Match (in 1908): 12–12 vs Balmain (Round 3)
  • First Win (in 1908): Won 16–6 vs Cumberland (Round 4)
  • No Score (in 1982): 0–0 (Nil all) vs Canterbury-Bankstown, at Henson Park (first time in First Grade history no points were scored in a match)
  • Lowest Score Win (in 1973): 1–0 (One-Nil) vs St. George, at SCG (first time in First Grade history only 1 point was scored in a match. Field goals were devalued to 1 point in 1971)

Newtown Junior Rugby League


The Newtown District Junior Rugby League (NDJRL) competition ended after the ejection of the club from the NSWRL premiership in 1983. The NDJRL was absorbed mainly into the South Sydney District Junior Rugby Football League and also a small part into the St George and Canterbury-Bankstown districts.

Former Clubs


Existing junior clubs that were formerly part of the Newtown district include:

  • Camperdown Dragons (now in South Sydney)
  • Marrickville RSL (now in South Sydney)
  • Earlwood Saints (now in St George)
  • Christian Brothers Lewisham (now only compete in school competitions)

Some extinct Newtown junior clubs include:

  • St Peters
  • Newtown Hawks
  • Tempe Iona Warriors
  • Addison Royals (Addison Road Sports Club)
  • Henson Park Colts
  • De La Salle Petersham
  • Koorie United
  • Petersham RSL
  • Newtown Waratahs
  • Enmore CYO
  • St Anthony's, Newtown
  • Erskineville United
  • St Thomas's
  • Newtown Police Boys' Club (folded to become Newtown Hawks)
  • St Brigid's De La Salle (Marrickville)
  • Hurlstone Park
  • Earlwood Rebels
  • Enmore United
  • Marrickville Rebels
  • Marrickville Bulldogs
  • Sydenham United
  • Camdenville
  • St Pius' Enmore
  • St Josephs Newtown

Notable Juniors


Some notable Newtown juniors include:

See also



  1. ^ Passamar, André (1984). "Newtown". L'encyclopédie de Treize Magazine (in French). Toulouse: Sud Ouest Presse Impression. ASIN B0014I5GK6.
  2. ^ History of the Newtown Rugby League football Club at
  3. ^ Williams, Terry (1993). Out of the Blue: The History of Newtown RLFC. Tempe, N.S.W.: Newtown RLFC. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0646150472.
  4. ^ "Football". The Sydney Mail. 21 September 1910. p. 54. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
  6. ^ "THROWBACK Eels win first top grade premiership". Parramatta Eels. 22 June 2017.
  7. ^ Williams, Terry (1993). Out of the Blue: The History of Newtown RLFC. Tempe, N.S.W.: Newtown RLFC. p. 143. ISBN 0646150472.
  8. ^ Carr, Andy. "Farrell, Francis Michael (Frank) (1916–1985)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University – via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  9. ^ "Albanese Supports Camperdown Dragons Centenary". Anthony Albanese MP. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  10. ^ "Seven players sent off". The Canberra Times. 8 September 1969. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Out Until 1971". The Canberra Times. 10 September 1969. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  12. ^ "Referees Want Protection From 'Drunks'". The Canberra Times. 17 April 1973. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  13. ^ "NSW Rugby Football Referees' Association" (PDF). 73rd Report and Balance Sheet: 14. December 1980. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  14. ^ "NSW Rugby Football Referees' Association" (PDF). 72nd Report and Balance Sheet: 13. December 1979. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  15. ^ "NSW Rugby Football Referees' Association" (PDF). 76th Report and Balance Sheet: 24. 6 February 1984. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Player's Dad Now a Graded Ref". The Rugby League News. 53 (9): 19. 25–26 March 1972. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  17. ^ Proszenko, Adrian (10 September 2014). "Newtown Jets become feeder club for Cronulla" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  18. ^ "Eels win Premier League - League - Sport -". October 2006.
  19. ^ NSWRL 2007 Table retrieved 20 December 2007
  20. ^ "A record 104min Grand Final".
  21. ^ "2011 Return to Redfern Trial South Sydney Rabbitohs v Newtown Jets Team List".
  22. ^ "Newtown take NSW Cup title".
  23. ^ "The Jets turn on a Reunion Day tour de force". 30 August 2016.
  24. ^ "Cutters ground the Jets". 18 September 2016.
  25. ^ "NSWRL Live - powered by Statedge". Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Newtown Continue Partnership With Cronulla - NSWRL". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017.
  27. ^ "Jets, Sharks Link up for Five More Years". New South Wales Rugby League. 17 May 2018.
  28. ^ "Woolford Stars As Bulldogs Claim ISP Premiership". New South Wales Rugby League. 23 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Star power on show for Canterbury Cup NSW Semi-Finals". NSWRL. 13 September 2019.
  30. ^ "Newtown reign supreme in epic decider". NSWRL. 29 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Newtown Jets steal the State Championship with a last second freak try". Sporting News. 14 August 2021.
  32. ^ "Jets coach Matterson steps down after a successful 15-year stint". 28 September 2022.
  33. ^ Rugby League Opens Season, The Sunday Times (Sydney), 30 April 1911, p. 10
  34. ^ Notes By "Full-Back", The Arrow, Sydney, 6 August 1910, p. 5
  35. ^ "Newtown Jets: The coolest club in rugby league". 21 July 2017.
  36. ^ "This is Henson Park".
  37. ^ "8972 fans". 1 July 2016.
  38. ^ New South Wales Rugby Football League. "NEWTOWN-WINNERS RESERVE GRADE FINAL". The Rugby League news. Vol. 28, no. 26 (September 20, 1947). Sydney: N.S.W. Rugby Football League. Retrieved 8 September 2020 – via Trove.