A History of Rugby in Victoria

researched & written by Ron Grainger

RUGBY AT THE MCG 1878 TO WW2

The first game of Rugby Union to be played on this famous ground was on Saturday, 29 June 1878, when the Waratah Club of Sydney played Carlton. The match, watched by a crowd of between 6,000 and 7,000 resulted in a draw; one goal and one try being awarded to each team.

The next game was held on Wednesday 29 June 1881, when Wanderers played a team from the detached Royal Navy squadron, the visitors winning by one try to nil.

MCG  circa 1878

MCG circa 1878

On Saturday 19 August 1899 the MCG was the venue for Victoria v the British Lions (as they were later to be called) who defeated the home side 30-0 before a crowd of some 7,000.

On Monday, 10 August 1908, Victoria played the Australian team (soon to be dubbed the First Wallabies). en route to Great Britain. Despite being held on a working day some 1,500 spectators attended to see the visitors win by 26-6.

On Saturday 6 July 1912, for the only time ever. the MCG was the venue for a match between two Victorian Rugby Union clubs, Melbourne and East Melbourne, the former winning 9-5 in what was reported to be ‘.. one of the finest exhibitions of the Rugby game ever seen in Victoria.’

On Saturday 18 June 1921, as a curtain raiser to a Melbourne vs Fitzroy League (VFL) match, and in front of a crowd of 11,214, a nominally Victorian team was soundly beaten by the South African Springboks 51-0.

MCG circa 1930

MCG circa 1930

Saturday, 13 September 1930, saw that the British Lions return to play Victoria, again before a crowd of 7,000, this time defeating the home side 41-36, a surprisingly narrow winning margin.

Research & content Ron Grainger

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2014 by in History, RUGBY in VICTORIA.