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Rugby league in the Northern Territory

Rugby league is administered by the Northern Territory Rugby League. Rugby league in the Darwin is played at Richardson Park, whilst rugby league in Alice Springs is played at Anzac Oval.



The first organised competition was played in Darwin in 1941 when 9 teams, mostly made up of servicemen decided to make one unified competition and compete between and against each other. Some of the teams represented the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Australian Navy, and the Australian Army. There were also teams made up of citizens in Darwin, along with a team made up entirely of indigenous Australians living in Darwin.[citation needed]

The competition was cancelled due to the bombing of Darwin and the air raid attacks on the city. Since most of the competition was made from servicemen in Darwin, the competition was severely effected when many of these personal had to go to war and when they were no longer stationed in the Darwin area.

Another competition resumed in 1942 and continued onto 1943 (it was a season which lasted two years) but because of the evacuation of Darwin and then the subsequent shipping out of army and navy personnel from Darwin the competition was completely halted. There appears to be no other competition formed between 1943 and 1949. After 1949, the competition was finally revived.

In 1950, a small group of men, mainly ex-servicemen, joined together to form the Northern Territory Rugby League. The first official season was started in 1950 in Darwin with a number of pre-season trial matches and tournaments. The first official match was played on 14 June 1951.

Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin on 24 December 1974 and completely devastated Darwin. Much damaged was done to its surroundings, but little damage occurred on Richardson Park, the home of rugby league in Darwin. The cyclone had an effect on the competition itself as players and administrators of the clubs and boards of the competition either left Darwin or were involved in the clean-up in Darwin after the cyclone had subsided.

In recent years however, the league has expanded a little. It has picked up in areas which are dominated by Australian rules football. Some of the areas the league has moved into include the Katherine.[citation needed]

Governing bodyEdit

The Northern Territory Rugby League is responsible for administering the game of rugby league in the Northern Territory of Australia. It controls the Darwin Rugby League, Darwin Junior Rugby League and the Centralia Australian Rugby Football League.

Northern Territory is an affiliated state of the overall Australian governing body the Australian Rugby League.

Darwin Rugby LeagueEdit

Club Suburb Ground
Darwin Brothers Anula Anula Oval
Katherine Wests Tigers Katherine Sports & Recreation Club
Litchfield Bears Litchfield Freds Pass Reserve
Nightcliff Dragons Nightcliff Dripstone High School Oval
Palmerston Raiders Palmerston Archer Oval
South Darwin Rabbitohs South Darwin Mararra Sporting Complex
MacKillop Sharks Palmerston MacKillop Catholic College

Central Australian Rugby Football LeagueEdit

Club Suburb Ground
Wests Dragons Alice Springs ANZAC Oval
United Magpies Alice Springs ANZAC Oval
Vikings Alice Springs ANZAC Oval
Memo Bulls Alice Springs ANZAC Oval

Foundation teams are Wests Dragons and United Magpies.

Katherine Rugby LeagueEdit

Club Suburb Ground
Katherine Bushrangers Katherine Sports & Recreation Club
Katherine Raiders Katherine Sports & Recreation Club
Katherine Wests Tigers Katherine Sports & Recreation Club

Gove Rugby LeagueEdit

Club Suburb Ground
Gove Rugby League Gove / Nhulunbuy


Rugby league is the dominant winter and football code in the Northern Territory, in terms of interest, participation, attendance, and other such areas.

Representative fixturesEdit

The Northern Territory team play in the Affiliated States Championship along with the other three affiliated states (South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia) plus the Australian Police and Australian Defence Force. They won the title in 2004.

The Northern Territory competed in the Amco Cup in 1977, 1978 and 1987.

The Northern Territory competed in the 1977 Pacific Cup. The team had little success, winning only one of their four games. The team finished at fourth out of fifth position on the ladder. 1977 was the only time the Northern Territory made an appearance in the Pacific Cup.


Further readingEdit

  • McPherson, A. Frank (2003). The first fifty years: rugby league in the Northern Territory. A.F. McPherson. ISBN 9780646421469.

External linksEdit