St George Dragons Rugby League History
- The 14 team comp
The year 2000 saw the departure of a number of foundation
teams. Balmain and Western Suburbs formed into the 'Wests
Tigers' joint venture. South Sydney were omitted from the
competition after taking a 'stand alone' position and resisting
any merger, instead choosing to fight their case against
the National Rugby League in the courts. Another foundation
club, North Sydney virtually disappeared and were absorbed
into the 'Northern Eagles' franchise with the Manly Warringah
club (established 1947).
2000 - St George and Illawarra 1st Division teams are
The St George Dragons and Illawarra Steelers first division
teams (second grade) have been merged into the St George
Illawarra Dragons so as to be consistent with the NRL first
- The Year of the Dragon
In 2000, Saints failed to make the top eight and finished
in ninth position.
In a year which promised so much for Saints, 2000,
the Chinese 'Year of the Dragon' will go down as one of the worst
seasons on record.
The team was racked with injury in a lineup which had already
lost key players, many of whom retired at the end of season 1999.
Additionally, the year was marred by in-fighting and in particular,
the 'Mundine saga' which reached a dramatic conclusion by mid-season.
DRAGONS THRASHED BY MELBOURNE 70-10
Melbourne Cricket Ground, 5 March 2000: The Dragons have
suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of 1999 premiers, the
Melbourne Storm by 70-10. Stunned Saints' supporters watched in
disbelief as their team fumbled in the miserable conditions and
completely capitulated, conceding more points than any other Dragons
team before them. A few days prior to the match, controversial
five eighth, Anthony Mundine was reported in the press
as saying that Storm didn't deserve to be the premiers. He was
criticised after the match for motivating the opposition. Post
match quotes - click here
MARK GASNIER SCORES ON DEBUT
Stadium Newcastle, 24 March 2001: 19-year-old, Mark Gasnier
(pic right) was called into the first grade match against
Newcastle to replace Matt Cooper who withdrew after injuring
himself in the pre-match warm up. The nephew of St George great,
Reg Gasnier the centre / winger had a dream start in the
top grade when he scored the match turning try in the 63rd minute.
An exciting match, 12,874 people saw Wayne Bartrim convert
the Gasnier try from out wide to give Saints a one point lead.
Jamie Ainscough scored late and Saints ran out winners
Sydney, 2 April
2000: Popular Saints' CEO, Brian
Johnston has resigned from his position citing health reasons.
A speedy back, the Dunedoo junior played for NSW & Australia.
He played for
St George from 1980-89 and was captain in
his final year before injury forced him to retire. Johnston (pic
left) became St George Chief Executive Officer in 1996 and
was named Australian team manager for the 1999 Test series.
8 in semis)
joint venture, Norths-Manly joint venture.
p = Season Premiers
| AFTER 26 ROUNDS
Points For 576
(5th best attack)
Points Against 656
(12th best defence)
26 April 2000: Anthony Mundine doesn't show up to training and is
reported to be on a flight to USA.
Sydney 2 May 2000: Saints' management have sent a letter today to Anthony
Mundine instructing him to front the club's board of directors to explain
his reasons for leaving the country. 'Choc' returned to Australia from
Honolulu on the morning of May 2 and explained that he simply needed
time to 'chill out'. He had a private meeting at Sydney Airport
with coach David Waite and father Tony Mundine prior to being swarmed
by a large media scrum.
QUITS DRAGONS FOR SECOND TIME
Sydney, 3 May
2000: Anthony Mundine attends meeting with St George Illawarra club
officials who have called on Mundine to explain why he left the country
without club permission.
After the 15 minute meeting, Mundine immediately announces his retirement
from Rugby League. Two days later he announces that he will be pursuing
a career in boxing.
This is the second time Mundine has left the Dragons, the first time
being in 1997 when
he joined the then Super League club, Brisbane.
Mundine's career was dotted with controversy. In 1998 he was involved
in a racial discrimination inquiry with Canterbury forward Barry Ward.
Mundine claimed he has been racially vilified in an on-field incident.
In 1999, after gaining selection in the City Origin team, Mundine proclaims
that he is the 'best five eighth in the world'. Still in 1999, Mundine
is chosen to play reserve for New South Wales in all three State Of
Origin games against Queensland, scoring a try. Mundine is given little
time on the field and often found himself playing at the unlikely
position of hooker. 1999 became Mundine's most controversial year to
date as he attracted more media attention than ever before. The year
finished in disappointment for Mundine. The Dragons lost narrowly in
the grand final and then there was Mundine's subsequent exclusion from
the Australian squad to take on New Zealand and Great Britain in the
Tri-Nations Series, Matthew Johns and Brad Fittler being preferred by
the selectors. Mundine claims that the selection for five eighth was
made on racial grounds.
By the year 2000, Mundine had become a target of a hungry media searching
for a story. He reacts by making a series of comments about established
players, Brad Fittler and Laurie Daley. He states that he always outplays
Fittler and that Daley is 'running on old legs.'
By May 2000, there was simply far too much activity in 'Choc' Mundine's
wake for the saga to continue any further. One of the most naturally
gifted Rugby League players of his time, Anthony Mundine played 126
matches for the Dragons, scoring 59 tries. He went on to a successful
career in boxing.
ROBERTS RE-WRITES HISTORY BOOKS
WIN Stadium, 6 May 2000: Saints' winger,
Amos Roberts (pic right) has scored 22 points (one try plus nine goals)
and Nathan Blacklock scored a hat trick of tries as the Dragons ran
riot against a hapless Auckland side. In the 72nd minute, Roberts scored
a well deserved try after a simple catch and pass movement close to
the opposition's line. This gave him a personal tally of 22 points which
is new record for a first grade player on debut.
Saints ran in nine tries to post a convincing
victory of 54-0 over the Warriors.
SAINTS BOARD DECIDE: DAVID WAITE TO GO
30 May 2000: The StGeorge Illawarra board
has decided to sack coach, David Waite at the end of the current
season. He will be replaced by co-coach, Andrew Farrar in 2001.
Brian Johnson has been retained as first division coach. David
Waite came to the St George Dragons in 1996 when the club was in crisis.
He was a third choice coach after Brian Smith left and Rod
Reddy abandoned the Dragons during the height of the chaotic Super
League war. Waite's attitude in early 1996 was to control those things
which could be controlled. The Dragons almost went all the way in that
year only to be beaten in the Grand Final. The Coach of the Year Award
was suspended in 1996 but David Waite was voted 'Coach of the Year'
by his peers.
TRENT BARRETT WINS
DALLY M AWARD
1 August 2000: Trent Barrett wins the
'Dally M' PLAYER OF THE YEAR award. Barrett received 28 points
to beat off late charges from Brett Kimmorley and Andrew Johns.
As well, Barrett is named as five eighth and Nathan Blacklock
is named as winger in the 'Dally M' TEAM OF THE YEAR. Blacklock also
receives an award
for TOP TRY SCORER. Other Dragons' players receiving recognition were
Amos Roberts and Luke Brannighan who were both nominated
in the ROOKIE OF THE YEAR section. The event was often highlighted by
cheers from the upstairs gallery of fans where Saints were well represented.
Presenters included ex-Dragons, Steve Edge , John Raper ,
Norm Provan and Graeme Langlands.
FEATURES IN WORLD CUP SLAUGHTER
GEORGE GREAT PASSES AWAY
St Raphaels Church, Sth Hurstville, 23 June
Jack Lindwall's funeral
COMPS: 1939 - 1949
PREMIERSHIPS: 1941, 1949
RECORD MOST TRIES FOR ST GEORGE IN ONE GAME: 6 tries, 3/5/47 Vs
EQUAL RECORD MOST POINTS IN ONE GAME: 36 points, 3/5/47 Vs Manly
UK, 1 November 2000: News from the old dart is that Australia has
beaten Russia by 10 zillion to nothing in front of about 3,000 people.
This score (actually 110-4) has been classed as a world record of some
sort. Trent Barrett scored two tries. In another World Cup match
it was great to see ex-StGeorge forward, David Barnhill representing
Ireland and still offloading as good as ever. Barnhill's most
recent footy career has been with the successful Burleigh Bears on the
Manchester, 26 November
2000: Red hot favourites, Australia have defeated New Zealand 40-12
in the World Cup Final at Old Trafford in front of 44,000 people.
Brad Mackay retires from rugby league
UK, 22 December 2000: Former Dragon, Brad
Mackay, 31, has announced his retirement from
Rugby League. He
was playing in the UK for the Bradford Bulls in 2000.
A local St George junior, Mackay began his career with the Dragons in
1987. He represented NSW (17 times) and Australia (12 tests, the first
in 1990) and he won the Clive Churchill medal in the 1993 Grand Final
despite playing in the losing side. He quit St George in 1994 following
ongoing arguments over the captaincy with coach Brian Smith.
After a year with the ill-fated Perth side Western Reds, he turned his
back on Super League to join Illawarra for two years before joining
StGeorge Illawarra in 1999. His last match for the Dragons was the 1999
Grand Final. Widely regarded as one of the best lock forwards to ever
play for St George, Mackay was a versatile player who could put his
talents to numerous positions. One of the gentlemen of the game, Mackay
played a total of 218 first grade games (117 StGeorge, 21 Reds, 56 Illawarra,
Mackay plans on returning to Australia to take up a job as a fireman.
Brown forced into retirement
February 2001: Dragons' co-captain,
Nathan Brown (pic left) has suffered a neck injury
in a pre-season trial against Canterbury.
So serious was the injury that Brown was
numb from the neck down and had to be air-lifted by helicopter
from the field.
He fully recovered but tests revealed that he had a congenital
problem with his spinal chord and he was forced into early retirement.
Originally from Maclean in northern NSW, Nathan Brown came to
St George as a youngster in 1993. 'Brownie' played in three grand
finals with Saints in 1993, 1996 and 1999.
Mixing surfing with Rugby League, Brown went on to be CO-captain
of the Dragons and was widely regarded as one of the best hookers
in the game. His dummy half play was outstanding and he often
topped the tackle count. One of the best players never to play
for Australia, let alone NSW, Nathan remained as a highly respected
footballer at all levels of the game. In all, he played 171 matches
and scored 32 tries.
The judiciary Vs the Dragons:
Craig Smith forced out of the country
2001 was notable for a number
of reasons but much controversy was centred on frequent visits
to the NRL judiciary by St George players.
chairman, Jim Hall met with no less than four Saints players
with Craig Smith, Jason Ryles, Trent Barrett
and Wayne Bartrim all receiving suspensions. Smith in particular
was attracting judicial attention and was ultimately forced out
of the country.
here for full story
Injuries start to mount
In 2001, Saints finished 26 rounds of football in seventh
position and qualified for the semi finals.
In 2001, forward Luke Bailey was
ruled out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Saints had
a horrendous run of injuries and at one point, they had more than
half their team out. Matters became absurd when utility player,
Jason Hooper was sidelined for eight weeks when he partially
severed a finger with a power tool in his home. These injuries
saw a string of defeats and some supporters were calling for the
sacking of coach Andrew Farrar. The club rejected these
calls and signed Farrar to a two year deal in April.
TINGHA HAT TRICK
Oval, 3 June 2001: Winger Nathan Blacklock
has scored his second hat trick of tries for the year including
a brilliant solo effort right on full time. With less than three
minutes remaining, 'Tingha' ran 70 metres down the sideline and
put in a kick over the head of the Wests Tigers' fullback to score
the match winning try. Blacklock celebrated behind the posts with
an aerial display of somersaults and cartwheels to the delight
of Dragons supporters, some of
whom starting chanting his name.
A great Rugby League moment which 'brought the house down' for
the 13,154 people in attendance..
The Tigers held a 14-nil lead after 16 minutes but were unable
to go on with it as the Dragons scored three tries to nil in the
second half and winning 27-22 thanks to Blacklock's try. Hooker,
Mark Riddell was successful with the conversion to give Saints
a five point win.
(Pic: Blacklock congratulated by Gasnier)
snubbed: magnificent try scoring record not enough
June 2001: The omission of try scoring machine, Nathan
Blacklock (pic right) from the NSW team in the second
State of Origin match caused outrage throughout the footballing
community. For the first time ever, 'Tingha' was showing the strain
of constant rejection from the selectors and at one point, he
was quoted as saying he was ready to quit Rugby League.
Ainscough and Trent Barrett (later
withdrawing through injury) retained their spots in the NSW team
while Blacklock gained some reward when he was selected in the
Country Origin team along with team mate Jason Ryles. Lance
Thompson was honoured with the captaincy of the City Origin
team and Mark Gasnier was named in the run on side. Veteran,
Colin Ward gained debut rep honours when he was also selected
in the City side.
Blacklock sets new try scoring records
Blacklock became the competition's leading
try scorer for the third season running with 27 tries and has
scored 20 tries or more for four seasons in a row - a feat never
before achieved by any player.
'Tingha's' 27 tries is a new St George club record and breaks
Tommy Ryan's record of 26 tries in one season which was
set in 1957.
(top 8 in semis)
p = Season Premiers
| AFTER 26 ROUNDS
Points For 661
(5th best attack)
Points Against 573
(5th best defence)
Points For 51
Points Against 66
Points For 712
123t 109g 2fg
Points Against 639
105t 109g 1fg
in the semis
2001 Top point scorers:
Mark Riddell 130 points (6 tries, 53 goals)
Nathan Blacklock* 112 points (27 tries, 2 goals)
Wayne Bartrim 100 points (2 tries, 46 goals)
*Blacklock's record with Saints 1998:
20 tries; 1999: 24 tries; 2000: 25 tries; 2001: 27 tries.
Saints defeated Canterbury by just one point (see
below) but their NRL season finished the following week when they were
defeated by Brisbane. The first Division team advanced to the Grand
Final and once there, had no trouble of disposing of Parramatta 34-10
to become 2001 Champions.
WIN QUALIFYING FINAL BY 1 POINT
Showground Homebush, 8 September 2001: Saints
have defeated Canterbury 23-22 in a punishing Qualifying Final encounter
at Homebush. A try to Matt Cooper, courtesy of a brilliant pass
from Trent Barrett and a field goal by Willie Peters
(recalled to first grade) saw Saints home after they trailed 14-12 at
Willie Peters (pic
left in Saints alternate jersey) originally played half back for
South Sydney before having a successful stint with Wigan (UK). He was
signed in 2001 and started off well before injury and a drop in form
saw him demoted to first division. Coach Andrew Farrar's decision
to recall Peters to first grade paid dividends as Saints won their sudden
death encounter against Canterbury.
BOW OUT IN HIGH SCORING SEMI
Football Stadium, 15 September 2001: In
a match that saw 72 points scored, Saints have lost to Brisbane 44-28
and are now eliminated from the 2001 NRL competition. This is new record
for points scored in semi final match.
A crowd of 19,259 were on hand to see Brisbane steam roll Saints early
and race away to a 20-nil lead after just 15 minutes.
Saints did come back into contention and following a try to Jason
Ryles in the 70th minute and they were only eight points behind.
But they were never able to make up the deficit. Two late tries to the
Broncos sealed the match.
(pic right: Mark Riddell kicking another goal in round seven)
Port Moresby, 7 October
2001: Four Dragons were named in the Kangaroo
Tour Squad. Wearing the Green and Gold in 2001 were Trent Barrett
(pic left) and debutantes, Jason Ryles and Mark Gasnier
as well as none other than Nathan Blacklock who was named in
the run on side to take on the Papua New Guinea Kumuls on October 7th.
He also played in the third decisive Test in the UK. Tingha finally
getting long overdue recognition.
Riddell's double trouble
In 2002, Saints qualified for the finals, eventually finishing
seventh in a 15 team competition.
Stadium Australia Sydney, 21
March 2002: Saints Hooker, Mark Riddell has been sent
off in the 'Easter Double Header' against the Bulldogs when he
went in late and high on Bulldogs five eighth, Braith Anasta.
Referee, Bill Harrigan
had no hesitation in ordering the season's first send off after
the replay showed a late elbow connecting with Anasta's chin.
The match was eventually won by the Bulldogs 33-14.
NRL judiciary subsequently suspended Riddell for four matches.
stripped 37 points for cheating cap
August 2002: The
biggest rugby league news item of 2002 involved competition
leaders the Canterbury Bulldogs breaching the NRL salary
cap by approximately $1MILLION over the last two seasons.
The NRL, in an unprecedented move, responded by deducting
the Bulldogs of 37 competition points, effectively delivering
the disgraced club the 2002 wooden spoon.
WIN Stadium Wollongong, 12 May 2002: St George Illawarra Dragons
hooker, Mark Riddell was sent off by Referee Paul Simpkins.
He was later charged with a grade two reckless high tackle on
Canberra Raiders' five eighth, Mark McLinden. Replays
show Riddell coming in high just after McLinden got a kick away.
The match was eventually drawn at 21-all.
Riddell had little option but
to plead guilty and was sidelined for a further four matches.
This was Riddell's first match back following a similar incident
in round three.
Nathan Blacklock quits Saints
for rugby union
04 June 2002: It has been confirmed that Nathan Blacklock
has been granted a release from the Dragons. The champion winger
requested the release after stating that he had 'lost his passion
for the game'.
Nathan's departure from Rugby
League sent the media into a frenzy and speculation that he was
contemplating joining rugby union were confirmed when he signed
a two year deal with the NSWRU.
competition's leading try scorer for three seasons running, Blacklock
has since shown a desire to return to the National Rugby League
following a less than happy stint with Union club, Southern Districts.
In 2001, Blacklock set a new club
record with 27 tries in one year, surpassing Tom Ryans's record
statistics (up to and including season 2002):
Nathan Blacklock page - click here
dominate complacent Warriors
Ericsson Stadium Auckland,
23 June 2002:
A depleted St George-Illawarra broke the New Zealand
Warriors winning sequence with an upset 32-22 win at Ericsson
Stadium in Auckland.
Seeking a ninth successive win, the Warriors came
unstuck against a rampant Dragons
team missing many regulars through injury or on State of Origin
The Dragons big forwards stopped the Warriors in
their tracks with stand-in half back, Aaron Gorrell (pictured)
putting in a near perfect kicking game. Normally a hooker, Gorrell
took full advantage of his opportunities in a first half display
that saw the Warriors searching for answers.
Dragons' captain Lance Thompson led by example
and was well supported by a host of willing helpers. Illawarra
junior Ben Hornby capped a storming game with a brace of
tries as did Lee Hookey.
St George stretched their 16-4 halftime lead out
to 32-8 with three tries after the break which finally stirred
the Warriors into action and gave themselves a sniff of a late
comeback. But the Dragons remained intent on notching their fourth
win of the season.
NZ Warriors 22 (Tries: Carlaw, Fa'fili, Webb, Toopi,
Laui'titi. Goals: Jones 1/3 )
St George Illawarra Dragons 32 (Tries: Hornby 2,
Hookey 2, Thompson. Goals: Riddell 2/3, Gorrell 4/5 ) Referee:
M Cecchin. Match
pics - click here
8 in semis)
deducted 37pts for salary cap breaches
p = Season Premiers
| AFTER 26 ROUNDS
Points For 632
(6th best attack)
Points Against 546
(7th best defence)
Points For 50
Points Against 62
Points For 682
124t 91g 4fg
Points Against 608
107t 89g 2fg
summary: The win over Warriors in round
15 was the best game of the year for the Dragons. Fielding a side
of virtual reserve graders, they outclassed a strong Warriors
outfit humiliating them in front of their home crowd. The Warriors
however, were in a forgiving mood when in round 26, Saints defeated
last year's premiers, Newcastle, 40-22 effectively handing the
minor premiership to the New Zealand side. The Warriors went on
to be eventual grand finalists only to lose to Sydney City. In
2002, Saints also defeated the Brisbane Broncos 28-20 in round
11 but the highlights were far and few between with Saints only
managing nine wins to scrape into seventh position on the ladder.
They defeated Newcastle 26-22 for the second week
running in the first preliminary final but went down a week later
to arch rivals, Cronulla 40-24 in the semi final.
Overall Saints struggled for consistency in 2002
with many supporters blaming coach, Andrew Farrar.
2002 Player stats, first grade:
Most games (out of 26):
Lee Hookey (25);
Jason Hooper (25);
Shane Millard (23);
Justin Smith (23).
Most tries: Lee
Hookey 18 tries (25
Mark Gasnier 12
tries (14 games)
Most goals: Mark
Riddell 44 goals (18
Aaron Gorrell 28
goals (16 games)
Most field goals: Willie
Peters 3 fg
Most points for 2002:
Mark Riddell 10t+44g+1fg
= 129 pts (18 games)
2002 - FULL SQUAD
Click on the pic for larger image (220 kb)
Gains (to play in 2003):
Brett Firman (Sharks); Lee Bennett (Roosters), Henry
Perenara (Storm), John Cross (Panthers), Don Dickson
(McLean), John Wilshere (Panthers) and Hassan
Losses: Nathan Blacklock
(Rugby Union); Justin Smith (Souths); Willie Peters (Souths);
Lee Hookey (Souths); Jason Hooper (St Helens); Ben Ross (Panthers);
Clint Hill (Tigers); Jason Kent (Sharks); Christian Hill (Eagles);
Shane Millard (released).
LOWER GRADES GRAND FINALISTS Telstra
Stadium Sydney, 6 October 2002: While
the Dragons' First Grade side failed to go on with it in 2002,
the lower grade First Division and Jersey Flegg sides both qualified
for their respective grand finals. The Nathan Brown coached
Jersey Flegg side were runaway leaders in 2002 but the minor premiers
fell at the final hurdle going down by one point in the grand
final (23-22) courtesy of a Roosters' field goal with only 90
First Division side, coached by Mick Potter went
down in similar circumstances losing the lead with only four minutes
remaining, the defending premiers going down to the Bulldogs by
two points (24-22).
ACTION OFF THE FIELD
Saints to play five games at
Jubilee in 2003
Kogarah, 05 September 2002:
The Dragons will be playing at Kogarah Jubilee Oval in 2003,
the St George Illawarra club confirming the move by official media
The Dragons will play five 2003
NRL home games at Kogarah and seven home games at WIN Stadium,
Wollongong. The pre-season Charity Shield match against Souths
will remain at Aussie Stadium (SFS).
Dragons chief executive officer
Peter Doust made the announcement at Kogarah Oval. "Aussie
Stadium [Sydney Football Stadium] is an outstanding sporting facility
… but it is not in our community," said Doust.
Doust said the Dragons Board unanimously
decided to return to Kogarah Oval following overwhelming support
from three local councils, state government local members, local
community, St George Leagues Club and Dragons fans.
The Dragons left Kogarah Jubilee
Oval in 1999 after it was revealed that it no longer complied
with the NRL criteria for home grounds.
Intense lobbying from the R2K
(Return to Kogarah), headed up by Lachlan McLean and support
from Football club CEO, Robert Stone were instrumental
in getting the Dragons back to the St George district.
Although the actual date and opponent have yet to be announced,
its understood the first Return To Kogarah match will be
quickly sold out with fans swamping the club for reservations.
The search for a St George home ground - click here
Farrar makes way for Nathan Brown
09 October 2002: St George Illawarra coach Andrew Farrar
(pictured) has been released from the final year of his contract
and will not be head coach in 2003.
In a surprise move, former St George player and
current Jersey Flegg (third grade) coach Nathan
Brown be taking over from Farrar.
Former Canberra Raiders' and Australian five eighth, Laurie
Daley has been appointed as a consultant to Brown while former
Dragons' forward, David Barnhill has been appointed assistant
coach. Also joining Brown, Daley and Barnhill will be former player,
Paul McGregor who was later appointed as assistant strength
and conditioning coach.
The announcement that Brown will take over was made
at 11am today followed last night's four hour club board meeting
and ends weeks of speculation.
The decision ends Andrew Farrar's involvement with
the Dragons. Farrar was appointed co-coach in 1999 with David
Waite. Farrar was then appointed as sole head coach in 2001.
Nathan Brown's playing career was cut short in 2001
when x-rays revealed a spinal defect. He remained with the club
as a trainer and then a coach of the Jersey Flegg side in 2002.
Brown enjoyed considerable success with the U/22s Jersey Flegg
side and was making a mark for himself as a trainer at representative
level. Despite these achievements, Brown's appointment is widely
regarded as a gamble with the former hooker becoming the youngest
head coach in NRL history.
media release - click here
"One history, 15 premierships"
Kogarah, 03 December 2002:
It has been announced at the St George Football Club Annual
General Meeting (AGM) that the history of the St George and
Illawarra Dragons will be unified.
Club CEO, Peter Doust declared, "One history, 15
premierships" - bringing huge applause from the assembled
The revised history will acknowledge 82 years of history since
St George joined the first grade in 1921 and Illawarra in 1982.
Entitled, "1921-2002: Our Proud History" the Annual
Report outlines the premierships in the following way:
First Grade: St George 15; Illawarra 0; St George Illawarra
0 - TOTAL: 15
A '2003 premiership victory' will be represented thus:
First Grade: St George 15; Illawarra 0; St George Illawarra
1 - TOTAL: 16
The emphasis being on the TOTAL.
The Dragons are now acknowledged as an united force which incorporates
the history of both St George and Illawarra and continues forward
as St George Illawarra.
When the St George Dragons and
the Illawarra Steelers merged in 1999 to form Rugby League's
first successful joint venture, many sport historians immediately
viewed this as a new club and new beginning.
the majority of
Dragons supporters didn't agree and pointed to the St George
first grade history, which began in 1921, as being too impressive
to simply cast aside.
In all, St George have won 15 premierships including a world
record run of 11 premierships in a row between 1956-66.
The Illawarra district with its huge junior base has often been
acknowledged as a important factor in the St George success
story but as a separate entity, the Illawarra Steelers won no
premierships since entering the competition in 1982.
Matters came to a head when in 2001, the lower grade St George
Illawarra Dragons won the First Division Grand Final. The club
promoted this as being 'the first Dragons premiers' - a sentiment
that didn't go down well with many Dragons' supporters.
In early November 2002, the matter was put on the agenda with
officials coming to the view that there was probably room to
bring together the history of the two clubs, thereby retaining
the Dragons' past 15 premierships.
TIPPING PASSES AWAY
11 March 2002: St George 1956 premiership winning coach and
club man, Norm Tipping has passed away aged 89 away following
St George RU convert, Tipping had a horror run with
injuries. He had to sit out the 1935 season only to suffer a spinal
injury in 1936. He made a determined comeback to play first grade
in 1943 and 1944 and ended his playing career at the end of 1944.
In all, he played 25 games with the Dragons scoring one try and
He coached Saints in 1953 and saw them to a Grand
Final that year. He is mostly remembered for coaching St George
in 1956 when, with only 12 men, they won the first of eleven straight
important news item of the day, Tipping was ruthlessly sacked
as coach at the conclusion of the 1956 season to make way for
Ken Kearney but Norm loyally remained as St George third
grade coach despite offers from Wests.
Norm Tipping holds a special place in the history
of St George. He was remembered with a moments silence prior to
the March 17 Dragons v Sharks match at the Sydney Football Stadium.