Rugby League has today unveiled a stunning tribute to the history of the ‘Greatest Game of All’ by opening the doors to a treasure trove of priceless memorabilia at the game’s first museum.
ARL Commission Chairman, Mr John Grant, and Interim ARL Commission Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, joined current and former stars including Immortal Johnny Raper, the Churchill Family and one of Rugby League’s oldest surviving first grade players Bill Harris, 96, at the unveiling of Rugby League Central’s latest addition.
The collection features a cap worn by Dally Messenger, the game’s first Premiership trophy, famous jerseys and tributes to the Team of the Century, the Immortals and the Hall of Fame.
Housed within Rugby League Central, the purpose-built museum showcases the diverse and rich history of the game through a wonderful selection of unique objects and artefacts from the Australian Rugby League Collection.
Visitors will have the opportunity to see original jerseys worn by the late Clive Churchill and Arthur Beetson and Western Suburbs Magpies legend Arthur Summons; shoulder pads worn by the likes of Dally Messenger; and the boots of past and present heroes such as Norm Provan and Paul Gallen.
Every major trophy, including the Courtney Goodwill Trophy, The Royal Agricultural Shield and the Winfield Cup, feature in the exhibition, which also includes a pictorial historical journey and several high-tech interactive displays with statistics and video of the game’s 100 Greatest Players and scope to compare past and present players.
"We are very proud to be here today unveiling what we hope can be considered one of the greatest archives of our game's brilliant history," ARLC Chairman, Mr John Grant, said.
"The artefacts that occupy this beautiful space have taken over 100 years to collect and have been painstakingly put together. I'd like to thank all the club members, current and former players and their families who have contributed to this wonderful display."
The Museum’s stable exhibition ‘Heroes and Legends’ is a visual and interactive display which takes visitors through a chronological look at Rugby League and the people who have shaped it along the way.
“It was our intention in creating the Museum to leave a legacy of Rugby League’s Centenary Celebrations,” ARLC Interim Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske said.
“The Rugby League Museum allows us to share with the Australian public a collection which honours the game’s long and colourful history.
“It will enable us to tell stories about the pivotal moments and the people who have contributed towards the making of the game as it stands today.
“It also provides a focal point for visitors to the Moore Park-SCG precinct in Sydney and acts as a tremendous resource for the further academic study of the game.”
The collection is being managed by former Penrith Panthers prop and Museum Manager, Frank Puletua, who played professional Rugby League for 12 years and has University Degrees in Graphic Design and Fine Arts; and historian Terry Williams.
“The Rugby League Museum will initially be open two days a week from Wednesday 6 September from 11:00am – 2:00pm with free admission,” Puletua said.
“We are working with the Men of League who will help conduct the tours allowing people to embrace this amazing collection, share the timeless stories and recognise the men and women who serviced and played the great game of Rugby League.”
Taking part in today’s ceremony was 96-year-old Bill Harris, one of the game’s oldest surviving first grade players who joined Canterbury in 1943 as a winger.
Harris, a former NSW Police Detective and international acrobat, believes the Museum will enable people to come together and talk about their own memories of Rugby League.
“This is a collection that will bring people together; it is a wonderful way for people of all ages to learn more about how this great game came together,” Harris said.
The Museum will be open to the general public two days a week (Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00am – 2:00pm). For enquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org