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The South Sydney Rabbitohs (often shortened to Souths) are an Australian professional rugby league football team based in Redfern, a suburb of South-Central Sydney. They participate in the National Rugby League (NRL) premiership and are one of nine existing teams from the New South Wales capital. The club was formed in 1908 as one of the founding members of the New South Wales Rugby Football League, Australia's first governing body for the sport and predecessor of the currentNational Rugby League. They are one of only two foundation clubs still present in the league, the other being the Sydney Roosters.
 
The Rabbitohs' traditional heartland covers the once-typically working class suburbs of inner-south and south eastern Sydney, however they have long held a wide supporter base spread all over New South Wales. The team's home ground is currently ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park.
 
At the elite competition level, South Sydney are the most successful professional team in the history of Australian rugby league in terms of total championships won, having claimed 20 first grade premierships. However, they have not won a premiership since 1971. In 2007 Souths qualified for their first finals series since 1989.
 
There is such reverence for the Rabbitohs in Australian rugby league that there is the saying "When Souths are going well, rugby league is going well".
 
The Rabbitohs are one of the few "foundation clubs" playing in Australia's top rugby league competition to have survived in their original form (even after having been excluded and reinstated), with the likes of North Sydney, Balmain and Western Suburbs having recently been replaced by newer "hybrid" teams.
 
The South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club was formed at a meeting on 17 January 1908 at Redfern Town Hall when administrator J J Giltinan, cricketer Victor Trumperand politician Henry Clement Hoyle came together in front of a large crowd of supporters.[6] The club played in the first round of the newly formed New South Wales Rugby League, defeating North Sydney 11–7 at Birchgrove Oval on 20 April 1908. The team went on to win the inaugural premiership then successfully defended their title in the 1909 season, winning the Grand Final by default. During these early years Arthur Hennessy was considered the "founding father" of the South Sydney rugby league club. A hooker and prop forward, Hennessy was Souths' first captain and coach. He was also New South Wales' first captain and Australia's first test captain in 1908.
 
After further premiership success in 1914 and 1918, South Sydney won seven of the eight premierships from 1925–1932, only missing out in 1930. The 1925 side went through the season undefeated and is only one of six Australian premiership sides in history to have achieved this feat. Such was Souths dominance in the early years of the rugby league competition that the Rabbitohs were labelled "The Pride of the League".
 
South Sydney struggled through most of the 1940s, only making the semifinals on two occasions (1944 and 1949). South Sydney's longest losing streak of 22 games was during the period 1945–1947. In the 1945 season they only managed to win one game while in 1946 they were unable to win a single game.
 
In the 1950s South Sydney again had great success, winning five of the six premierships from 1950–1955, and losing the 1952 Grand Finalagainst Western Suburbs in controversial circumstances. The 1951 side's point scoring feat in their 42–14 victory over Manly-Warringah remains the highest score by a team in a Grand Final and "the miracle of '55" involved South Sydney winning 11 straight sudden death matches to win the premiership. Players that were involved in these years included Denis Donoghue, Jack Rayner, Les "Chicka" Cowie, Johnny Graves, Ian Moir, Greg Hawick, Ernie Hammerton, Bernie Purcell and Clive Churchill. Churchill, nicknamed "the Little Master" for his brilliant attacking fullback play, is universally regarded as one of the greatest ever Australian rugby league players.
 
In the late 1950s Souths began a poor run of form failing to make the finals from 1958–1964. However in 1965 a talented young side made the Grand Final against St. George who were aiming to secure their 10th straight premiership. The young Rabbitohs weren't overawed by the Dragons formidable experience and in front of a record crowd of 78,056[14] at the Sydney Cricket Ground, they went down narrowly 12–8. The nucleus of this side went on to feature in Australian representative teams for the next six years and ensured another golden period for South Sydney making five successive grand finals from 1967–1971, winning four. Bob McCarthy, John O'Neill, Eric Simms, Ron Coote, Mike Cleary and John Sattler from 1965 were later joined by Elwyn Walters, Ray Branighan, Paul Sait, Gary Stevens and coach Clive Churchill to form a fearsome combination before internal strife and poaching by other clubs from 1972 onwards unravelled the star studded pack. From this period comes part of South's and Australian Rugby League folklore when in the 1970 premiership decider against Manly, captain John Sattler inspired the side to victory playing out 70 minutes of the match with his jaw broken in three places after being king hit by Manly prop John Bucknall.
 
Financial problems started to hit Souths in the early 1970s, forcing some players to go to other clubs. The licensed Leagues Club, traditionally such an important revenue provider to all first grade league sides, was closed in 1973 but a "Save Our Souths" campaign ensured the club survived. "Super Coach" Jack Gibson's arrival turned the club's form, winning the pre-season competition in 1978. The club captured victories in the mid-week Tooth Cup competition in 1981 and in the pre-season "Sevens" competition in 1988. The Rabbitohs were able to make the finals on five occasions in the 1980s, including a dominant season to finish as minor premiers in 1989. The 1989 season proved to be the club's most successful in years, but also marked the last time the club was able to reach the finals until 2007. The following season the Rabbitohs finished as wooden spooners.
 
The club stayed afloat in the 1990s despite major financial problems. Souths' only success came in 1994 when they won the pre-season competition, defeating the Brisbane Broncos 27–26 in the final. The Super League War and the eventual formation of the National Rugby League affected the club greatly when it was determined in 1998 that the newly formed competition would be contracted to 14 teams for the 2000 season. Following a series of mergers by other teams, South Sydney failed to meet the National Rugby League's selection criteria (criticised as unfair, flawed and biased to favour certain News Limited associated teams and those teams located in areas contentiously viewed by News Limited as more important to the future of rugby league) to compete in the competition and were subsequently excluded from the premiership at the end of the 1999 season.
 
In 2000 and 2001, South Sydney fought their way back into the competition following a string of high profile legal battles against the National Rugby League and News Limited. A number of well attended public rallies took place during this time, as supporters from many different clubs got behind South Sydney's case. Upon appeal to the Federal Court in 2001, South Sydney won readmission into the premiership for the 2002 season.
 
Since being readmitted, the Rabbitohs have been rather unsuccessful in the premiership, finishing amongst the bottom three teams for five seasons straight including three wooden spoons. However, following the club's takeover by famous Hollywood actor Russell Crowe and businessman Peter Holmes à Court in 2006, the club has had great success in securing a number of major international player signings as well as recruiting several key managerial positions including Jason Taylor as head coach.
 
The results were shown on the field with South Sydney winning their first three games of the 2007 season (marking their best start to a season since1972) and being competitive in every game. On the back of one of the best defenses in the competition, the Rabbitohs finished strongly making the semi finals for the first time since 1989. They finished the season in 7th position, going down to Manly in the playoffs.
 
On 26 January 2008, the Rabbitohs lost 24–26 to the Leeds Rhinos in front of 12,000 fans at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, the first time first-grade professional rugby league teams from Australia and England have played each other in the United States.
 
May 2008 saw the sudden resignation of the then current Executive Chairman and CEO, Peter Holmes à Court. He had only been appointed to the role of CEO at the start of 2008. Reports suggested that Holmes à Court had been forced to stand down after his relationship with Russell Crowe had deteriorated beyond repair.
 
The South Sydney Rabbitohs celebrated their centenary year during the 2008 National Rugby League season. The club fielded teams in the National Rugby League Telstra Premiership and the Toyota Cup National Youth Competition.
 
The Rabbitohs also have affiliate clubs in the New South Wales Cup competition (North Sydney Bears) and the European Super League (Leeds Rhinos, the reigning Super League champions).
 
On 3 September 2008, the South Sydney Football Club was named the National Trust's inaugural 'Community Icon' in recognition of the club's significant longstanding contribution to sport and sporting culture at both state and national levels
 
 

Emblems and Colours
 

One version of how the club got the "Rabbitohs" nickname comes from the team's pre-schism days at the turn of the 20th century. During that period, 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 account of the legend relates that the Rabbitoh name was a disparaging reference by opposing teams to South's home ground being plagued with "rabbit 'oles". In those early days Redfern Oval was then known as Nathan's Cow Paddock. Yet another version links the Rabbitoh name as being adopted from that of the touring Australian rugby union teams of the early 1900s who were nicknamed "Rabbits" prior to discarding the name in 1908 in favour of the moniker "Wallabies".
 
The "Rabbitoh" emblem (a running white rabbit) first appeared on the team's jersey in 1959. The Rabbitoh emblem has in various forms been carried as the club's crest on every player's jersey ever since. The original "Rabbitoh" emblem design that appeared on the team's jerseys throughout the 1960s and 1970s has now been incorporated on the current jersey.
 
The South Sydney Rabbitohs celebrated their centenary year during 2008. The club released a centenary emblem to commemorate the occasion. To also coincide with the centenary year, Souths opted to alter their logo by removing the red and green oval from their emblem for a solid white rabbit with the words Souths Sydney Rabbitohs in upper case font as seen above.

South Sydney has used cardinal red and myrtle green colours on its playing jerseys for the vast majority of the club's history. Prior to the establishment of the rugby league club in 1908, the South Sydney rugby union team originally wore a red and green hooped jersey. Some sources have suggested that this combination of colours was due to the local rugby union club being nicknamed the "Redfern Waratahs". The first British inhabitants had often called the waratah a "red fern" instead, hence giving the suburb its name, and ultimately the local rugby club its emblem. Red and green dominate the colours of the waratah and hence, possibly, the South Sydney Rugby League Football Club adopted these colours for their jerseys. However, the suburb of Redfern was named in honour of Dr. William Redfern, one of the first doctors of the colony, who treated convicts and poor settlers as well as the wealthy.
 
The club's jersey has been a hooped-styled one comprising of alternating red and green, and has been used for the vast majority of the club's history. In 1945 and 1946 the club broke with this tradition and used a green design with a red "V" around the collar, before reverting back to the original hoop style. From 1980 to 1984 the team played in a strip which saw the inclusion of white hoops within a predominately green design with a central red stripe and was affectionately known as the "Minties" jersey (so-called due to its apparent similarity to the wrapper design of the popular sweet). With the introduction of "away" jerseys towards the end of the 20th century, the club initially introduced a predominantly white jersey for away matches which was changed to a predominantly black one for the 2006 season.
 
Before the start of the 2007 season, the club announced that the away jersey would be styled identically to the traditional home jersey, with the exception of sponsorship and the rabbit emblem, which has been styled similarly to the one that initially featured on jerseys in the 1960s. For season 2009, the rabbit emblem is black for home matches whilst the emblem is the original white for away matches.
 
The playing shorts worn were historically black, though in the late 1970s the club adopted green shorts with a red vertical stripe. This was then superseded by the white shorts of the "Minties" outfit. When the club subsequently reverted to their traditional playing strip, the decision was made to wear black shorts once more.
 
In 2008 the Rabbitohs wore white shorts to match the white stripe running down the side of their jersey.

Source: Wikipedia
 

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