ON Saturday night Bathurst rugby league fans braved the cold to take in an NRL contest between the Penrith and Melbourne, but did you know the city hosted a top level match way back in 1913?
The 13-man code built its foundations in Bathurst that year when Sydney hot-shots Souths and Norths played the first ever game of rugby league in the city at Bathurst Sportsground.
Souths won the match 23-19 on April 26 of that year and the description of the clash in Bathurst's National Advocate (April 28, 1913) depicted that of a city which was captivated with the new rugby code.
It was reported 1500 spectators attended the contest which was 'keenly contested' and 'brilliant'.
The National Advocate did not spare rugby union with its interpretations of league. Within the article, it was claimed the crowd 'were unanimous from every point of view that the league game is vastly superior to that of union'.
What made the prose even more interesting was that one of the major criticism's of modern day league, virtually non-existent scrums, was used as a selling point of the new code. The article said: 'There was also a refreshing absence of the series of heavy scrums ... the scrums were a revelation to many. The ball was no sooner thrown in than it was out and the backs moving.'
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Touch judges were referred to as 'touch umpires' and the report highlighted that many of the four figure crowd were of the 'fair sex'.
In the match itself, Souths fullback Howard Hallett scored a try and kicked three goals to put the red and greens out to a 9-0 lead.
Hallett was a certainly a talent. He was originally an Australian rules footballer but was graded with Souths in 1908, the first season of rugby league in Australia, and made his debut in the first grade team in 1909.
Hallett was a playing member of three premiership-winning teams; 1909, 1914 and 1918. He was first selected to play for NSW in 1911. In the same year he was selected to tour with the 1911-1912 Australasian Kangaroos, making his debut playing against the Northern Union at Newcastle as a centre and scoring his one and only test try.
For Norths, it was centre Jimmy Devereaux who opened his side's account in Bathurst with a penalty and it was 9-2 at half-time.
The second half produced eight tries (then worth three points each) and interestingly, one of Souths' try-scorers was winger Harold Horder, who went on to be a part of Norths' only two premiership sides (1921-1922).