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A leader amongst men: Jack Rayner

Historical Player: Jack Raynor

Name: Rupert John Rayner D.O.B: 11 April 1921
Birthplace: Coraki, NSW Nickname: Jack
Position: Prop, Second Row Club Debut: April 13, 1946 - Round 1 vs Newtown, Pratten Park
Club Games: 194 (1946-1957) Club Points: 190 (58 tries, 9 goals)

Jack Rayner is regarded as one of the greatest leaders in South Sydney history.

Recruited by former coach Eric Lewis while serving in the AIF during World War II, Rayner made his Club debut in 1946 and forged a memorable career in Cardinal and Myrtle. 

“When I was in the Army in New Guinea we used to play Rugby League against different regiments and battalions and brigades,” recalled Rayner.

“We played a game in Port Moresby and Eric Lewis from Souths was in it. He asked if we come out of this alright if I consider playing football with Souths. I said ‘we'll see if I'm good enough to play’.”

“I went in the trial match and as a result I was graded in the first-grade side. So I went to the Rabbitohs and never regretted it. I played all my football with Souths.”

A no-nonsense forward, Rayner captain-coached South Sydney to five premiership victories in the 1950s during the Club’s second Golden Era, in a formidable side that included the likes of Clive Churchill, Bernie Purcell, Ian Moir, Greg Hawick and Les Cowie. 

Churchill recalled Rayner as one of the best forwards he had played with.

“Jack was the crankiest forward I played with, but what a grand fellow he was,” Churchill said in the book True Blue. 

"He was a brilliant tactician. I never saw a better forward in cover defence on the blind side than Rayner.”

As a former police officer, Rayner is perhaps best remembered for his strong rhetoric in justice and fair play - most apparent after the controversial 1952 Grand Final.

With the Rabbitohs taking out the previous two Premierships, they came up against Western Suburbs in the decider - and despite being raging favourites during the week, Souths were ominously 6-4 outsiders on game day. 

Referee George Bishop, who was a known punter, disallowed two fair tries from the Rabbitohs and let a blatant forward pass go for Wests, and with a 15-4 penalty count against Rayner’s men, the Magpies went on to win 22-12.

Booed off the field, Bishop immediately retired. Rayner, livid with the result, claimed: “To put simply, we were not allowed to win”.

The two crossed paths on many occasions later, living in the same suburb, but Rayner, a man of his morals, never spoke to him again. 

Souths went on to win the next three Premierships, with Rayner playing representative football for City, NSW and Australia, and is forever remembered for his sportsmanship and diligence on and off the field. 

Rayner was made a Life Member of the Club in 1968, and in 2004 was named as coach of the South Sydney Dream Team. The Club has also named the Jack Rayner Player’s Player award in his honour, awarded since 2003. 

Career Milestones

Premierships: 1950, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1955
5 Tests for Australia
1 International Match for Australia (1948)
12 Matches for NSW
5 Matches for City
1955 Grand Final Man of the Match
South Sydney Life Membership (1968)
South Sydney Dream Team (2004)
 

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