Saturday, 13 January 2007

The Rabbitohs - A Sydney institution

Rugby League is the main "football" style game played in Sydney.

The South Sydney "Rabbitohs"*, aka "the Bunnies" and "Souths" are a Sydney rugby league team, with a proud history in the working class area of Redfern. (Note the older style terrace houses, and public housing blocks in the background). Over the years Souths have had various ups and downs, including winning more premiershipsthan any other team (the 1950s, 60s and 70s were their best years), and being dropped from the competition in 2000, after financial problems saw them lose some of their best players, and the Rugby League wanting to cut teams from the competition. Rabbitohs supporters are diehards, however, and with great popular support they came out fighting, went to court, and won re-admission in 2002.

Actor Russell Crowe has been a fervent supporter, and in 2006, he and a business partner, Peter Holmes a Court, bought a 75% share of the team, gioving them effective management contol.

Now their former home ground at Redfern Oval, in Redfern Park, is being re-developed by Sydney City Council as a state-of-the-art training ground. When I went past today, the old seats, from the now demolished stands were piled up, presumably awaiting removal.

The Rabbbitohs colours are red and green, hence the colour of the seats.

* How did "The Rabbitohs" get their name?

According to Wikipedia:

One version of how the club got the "Rabbitohs" nickname comes from their rugby union days at the turn of the 20th century. In those hard times, players wearing their cardinal red and myrtle green football jumpers, earned some extra money on Saturday mornings by hawking rabbits around the district with the traditional cry of "Rabbitoh!" echoing through the narrow streets. As they made a sale, they would sling the bunny from their shoulder and skin it on the spot, inevitably accumulating some of the fur and blood on their jerseys as they did so. When they played in those blood stained jumpers that afternoon, opponents from wealthier rugby clubs did not always appreciate the aroma and would mockingly repeat the 'Rabbitoh!' cry.
Another version relates that the Rabbitoh name was a derogatory reference by opposing teams to South's home ground being littered with "rabbit 'oles". In those early days Redfern Oval was then known as Nathan's Cow Paddock.


  1. impressionnante cette photo. bonjour les croyais que l'on parler de football australien et non pas de rugby ?

    impressive this photograph. hello the damage..
    I believed that one to speak about Australian football and not about Rugby?

  2. olivier - there are 4 types of football played in Australia:

    Australian Rules - a game unique to Australia
    Rugby (also called Rugby Union)
    Rugby League

  3. sounds more like Rabbit Toes than Rabbit Holes :)

    In less than 2 weeks, I'll be in Sydney. We're having a cuppa, right?

  4. I wondered what Redfern was like, as I always heard it being announced when I was on the train.

    How about taking a photo of a Tangara train, as I've not seen one on your site yet?

  5. How colorful, how imaginative the ideas about Rabbitoh . . . this is Australia as I've imagine it.

  6. Rugby League or Rugby Union? Which is better?
    Personally I think Rugby League out classes union by far, though being a Wakefield Wildcats fan makes me a little biased! However I do admit that internationally Rugby League needs some work so Rugby Union has that on its side but what about the game itself?
    It seems that Rugby Union is just a collection of dog piles most of the time followed by short lived runs which either involve running straight into the other teams players or scoring the odd try, WHY!?
    In Rugby League I can see the point in running straight into your opponent as you have to make some ground only having six tackles to do it but in Union, it’s just a way of losing the ball! Fools!
    I mean I like doing a little Rugby League Betting every other week but when it comes to Rugby Union, its just boring! KICK! THERE INFRONT! KICK! THERE BEHIND!! KICK THERE INFRONT AGAIN!!! OH NO WAIT!! THERE BEHIND AGAIN! RUN THE DAMN BALL!!!!
    Anyway I’ll stop my rant here and give someone else say what they think!