– The Word ‘Rules’

The word ‘Rules’ has been associated with the title of the game of Australian Football for well over 100 years.

Many find this word not appropriate for the game which has proved to be the most popular in the Commonwealth and there were several attempts to have it deleted from its name, but this have proved difficult.

For many years the game was simply referred to as ‘football’ by the masses in the majority of states where it held sway however in more recent years soccer has put in a claim for the word.

In actual fact the word ‘football’ is a generic term and applies to a number of sports which boast using a ‘football’ as the centre of their play.  These include: Australian Football, Soccer, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Gridion, Gaelic Football and Canadian Football – which is very much a derivative of Gridiron.

Australian Football gained the tag, ‘Rules’ when in reporting of the game in the late 1800s there needed to be some differential between the codes.  It should be noted however, that it was initially called ‘Victorian Football.’   Rugby was simply referred to as such (Rugby League had yet then been created), Soccer was called ‘Association Football’ because it was played according to rules determined by the International Football Association Board.

So when referring to a game of Australian Football journalists simply said “….. a was game played according to ‘Australian Rules’ or “….. a game played on Saturday according to the Australian rules of football”.  And that’s how the ‘Rules tag stuck

There have been many attempts to remove the word.  In the early 1900s moves were made to eliminate the word then again in 1926, the NSWAFL President, J.F McNeil,  successfully moved to have the word eliminated from the title.  Little notice was taken on this new stance by the league because even when reporting on his motion, the Sydney Morning Herald published the article under the banner, “AUSTRALIAN RULES’ and over subsequent years really did not deviate from this manner.

In 1952, state delegates at the Australian National Football Council, state delegates expressed opposition to the term ‘rules’ being applied to Australian Football.  As a result it was decided to advise all affiliated bodies to refer to the game as ‘Australian Football.  The actual resolution had been carried at the Council’s 1950 meeting but not acted upon.

Then in 1958 it again raised its head at ANFC level and they began a national wide search for an alternative but their endeavours proved fruitless – see article.





NSW Schoolboys – 1948

1948 NSW PSAAA Aust Football Team 1948 NSW PSAAA Aust Football Team thumbnailEach year since 1922, apart from the war years, the Primary Schools Athletic Association has supported a team of Australian football schoolboys from NSW to compete in a national carnival.

Boys from all over the state were drawn into the side with officials appointed from the school system.  Rupert Browne, a teacher at the Gardeners Road School (Mascot), who appears in the attached image, was one such official travelling with the boys in teams from 1922 until his retirement in about 1950.

The reason we are showing this photo is because of its clarity and significance to school sport 67 years ago.  Maybe some of these players are still alive.  Their names appear under the photograph.

For the most part they would then be year six students, aged 12-13 but in a few cases, as you can see by their lack of maturity, some appear to be quite younger.

The carnival these boys competed in was held in July in Brisbane.  In this case primary schools were represented by Tasmania, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and NSW.  South Australia did not compete in that year.  Matches were played at Perry Park, the first occasion the ground was used for football after WWII, Graceville, the Brisbane Cricket Ground and the Exhibition Ground.

The Western Australian team had quite a bit of difficulty in getting to Queensland during a period when Australia was engulfed in coal miner strikes.  Public subscription saw the boys go by train from Perth to Sydney in third class travel then by air to Brisbane.  Ironically, they won the carnival going through undefeated.

The NSW results were:

Date Opposition NSW Score Opposition Score Win/Loss
10 July Queensland 6-5 (41) 14-9 (93) Loss
14 July Tasmania 5-4 (34) 14-10 (94) Loss
15 July West Australia 1-2 (8) 13-25 (103) Loss
21 July Victoria 4-2 (26) 18-22 (130) Loss

As you can see, NSW did not win a game but that is not to say they failed in all of the carnivals in which they participated.  Over the years they won quite a number, some in recent times.

Western Australia won this carnival from Tasmania but the performance of the Queensland team was quite impressive.  Lance Cox from Forest in Tasmania won the J L Williams Memorial Medal for the best player in the series.  Cox went on to play with Richmond in 1954-55 but never did set the world on fire.