Since 2007 the Rabbitohs and Roosters have fought for the Ron Coote Cup, named in honour of legendary lock Ron Coote who represented both Souths and Eastern Suburbs. Fittingly, it’s a fixture marked with skill and passion – just like Coote’s personal brand of footy.
Ron Coote started his Rugby League journey long before his days as a Kensingston United Dragons junior. The man who would be named in the Australian Team of The Century in 2008 first got his taste of footy watching Souths legends play at Redfern Oval.
“My father used to take me over to watch Clive Churchill, Johnny Graves and those guys from the 50s at Redfern Oval when I was around 6 or 7 years old,” said Coote.
“I suppose tradition breeds ambition and that great era from Souths gave me ambition to get involved with the Club and do the same thing.”
From there Ron Coote made history with the Rabbitohs and the Roosters, having played for, captained and won Premierships with both Clubs between 1964 and 1978. The Souths Junior was also an accomplished representative player, having represented NSW (15 caps) Australia (23, including World Cup matches) as well as Captaining his country.
“I started as an 18-year old kid with Souths and grew through to play in six grand finals in my career. Growing up with Souths was a great time of my life, like everyone who’s played professional Rugby League, it was a great time for me,” said Coote.
“I certainly enjoyed every moment of it, even training at Redfern Oval. Playing at Redfern Oval was a special thing for me.”
Joining the Roosters in 1972, Coote recalls how then Roosters Coach Don Furner talked him into a move while Souths were experiencing a difficult period off field.
“Souths went through a period where things weren’t going good and Don Furner lived around the corner from me at the time. He’d come down to my place, sit in the lounge room and talk to me about the Roosters and I think he talked me into it,” said Coote.
“The teammates accepted it for what it was worth. I wasn’t losing them, I’m still good mates with lots of them.
“I remember the first day I went back to Redfern when I was playing with the Roosters. It was 1974, I hadn’t been there in two years. Souths, as they always do, have a great rivalry with Easts and it was very competitive. It was a great game.
“At the end of the game there was nothing in it and I scored a try in the last couple of minutes to win the game and, well... the crowd weren’t happy I’ve got to say! It was a bit of a touchy situation.”
A legend of both Clubs, in 2007 it was agreed that an annual contest would be set up between the old rivals in the name of Coote. The team with the highest aggregate score over two fixtures in an NRL season would claim the Cup.
“I think it’s a great honour to have a competition between two great Rugby League Clubs have my name put on it and I’m very proud of that fact,” said Coote.
The Rabbitohs and Roosters will be playing for the Ron Coote Cup on Friday night, with the winner on aggregate points scored across rounds four and 18 taking home the silverware. The Roosters currently lead by 14 points meaning the Rabbitohs must win by 14 points or more to retain the Ron Coote Cup which they won last season.