It’s been another year of milestones for the Rabbitohs both on and off the field in 2014, with new records, new legends, new stories and growing numbers punctuating what would ultimately become the year of the Rabbitohs.
The greatest achievement of the year came on Sunday, when the Club scaled the heights of the 2014 Premiership to finally lift the Provan-Summons Trophy to again become the Pride of the League.
From record crowd figures, to points and appearance records being amended regularly, 2014 has been a watershed year for the Rabbitohs, with the Club’s history books again requiring amendments on a regular basis, before the most important piece of the puzzle was finalised last weekend with a record 21st Premiership.
We look at just a few of the moments and achievements that re-wrote Rabbitohs and rugby league history in 2014.
The Grand Final
The Rabbitohs notched up a record 21st Premiership when they defeated the Bulldogs by 30-6 in Sunday’s Grand Final – the match being the Club’s first Grand Final appearance in 43 years. A five tries to one effort opened a new chapter in Rabbitohs Grand Final history with a host of new tales being added to the Club’s folklore – among them, the courageous performance of Sam Burgess to play 80 minutes with multiple fractures to his cheek-bone and eye-socket.
Ground Record Grand Final Crowd
The magnitude of the event wasn’t lost on the public, with a ground record crowd of 83,833 Members and supporters in attendance to witness the Rabbitohs make history – the crowd representing the biggest attendance for a sporting event at ANZ Stadium since it was reconfigured after the Sydney Olympics, and the numbers were even bigger on television.
Record Grand Final Ratings
The Rabbitohs’ Premiership victory was the highest rating NRL match of all time across five city markets, with the Nine Network reporting a massive national peak audience of 4.6 million viewers, adding that the national average audience (3.951 million) surpassed the national audience for the AFL Grand Final (3.513 million).
Highest Scoring Rabbitohs Team of All Time
The Rabbitohs of 2014 bettered their 2013 performance to become the highest ever scoring Rabbitohs side in the Club’s history, with 687 points scored across 27 matches including the season decider.
When it comes to points, halfback Adam Reynolds managed to write his own bit of NRL history. Reynolds now holds the record for the most consecutive NRL games in which a player has scored points. Reynolds’ record is 76 consecutive matches, with the run stretching between round one 2012 vs Roosters (Home) to round 25 2014 vs Bulldogs (Away). He achieved the record in round 17 against the Gold Coast Titans at ANZ Stadium. The previous record was held by Jason Taylor with 68 consecutive matches. Reynolds also broke through the 600 career-points mark in round 25 against the Bulldogs, and broke through the 200 goals mark in round one against the Roosters.
Record Rabbitohs Crowds
A total of 637,858 people walked through the turnstiles to watch the Rabbitohs in person this year – up by 31,970 on 2013, and 35,919 more than fellow Grand Finalists the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, despite the red and greens playing one less game than the Belmore club this season.
John Sutton Becomes Most Capped Rabbitoh
Rabbitohs Captain John Sutton became the Club’s most capped player when the skipper surpassed the great Bob McCarthy’s record of 211 first grade games for the Club in round five against the Dragons at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
But the honours got even bigger for Sutton last week, when he became the first player to Captain a Rabbitohs side to a Grand Final and Premiership glory since John Sattler in 1971,also becoming the first Souths Junior to Captain the Club to a Premiership since George Treweek in 1932.
A number of Rabbitohs also achieved appearance milestones in 2014 including; Greg Inglis (200 NRL games), Ben Te’o (150 NRL games), Dave Tyrrell (100 Rabbitohs and NRL games), Ben Lowe (100 Rabbitohs and NRL games), Luke Burgess (50 Rabbitohs and NRL games), George Burgess (50 Rabbitohs and NRL games).
Merritt Breaks Wearing’s Try-scoring Record
Nathan Merritt etched his name into Rabbitohs history when he became the Club’s top try-scorer of all time in round six of the season in a match against the Panthers in Penrith. Merritt broke Club legend Benny Wearing’s record of 144 tries when he raced over in the corner – becoming a legend himself in the process.
The Rabbitohs continued to set Membership milestones in 2014 when the Club became the first NRL Club in history to sign up over 30,000 Members. With the Rabbitohs Family growing yearly, the achievement was even more significant given that it was achieved well before the half-way point of the season (round nine).
Social Media Milestones
The Rabbitohs Digital Team achieved significant milestones online this year on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, highlighting the passion and hunger of the Club’s Member’s and supporters to get their news first and be a part of the conversation.
The Club’s Facebook page saw significant growth with a jump of over 140,000 ‘likes’, bringing the total to over 333,000 and counting. On Twitter, the page has attracted a following of over 50,000, while Instagram has attracted over 40,000 follows.