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December 14: Burgess becomes a Bunny; Independence finally arrives

On this day, Rabbitohs welcome Sam Burgess, Mat Rogers returns to rugby league and the ARL's independent commission is finally announced.

1988

Sam Burgess was born in Dewsbury. The English international established himself in the Super League before joining Souths in 2010. A powerhouse forward, he was one of the stars of the 2014 premiership victory, earning the Clive Churchill Medal on grand final night after playing the match despite suffering a fractured cheekbone in the opening tackle of the match.

After a brief stint with English rugby, he returned to the Rabbitohs in 2016 and was often captain of the club in his second stint which ended after the 2019 season when he was forced to retire due to a shoulder injury.  

1995   

The Supreme Court grants St George a restraining order against four players attempting to defect to Super League.

1997   

ARL player of the year Brad Fittler is left out of Open Rugby’s World XIII.

Former Roosters skipper Brad Fittler.
Former Roosters skipper Brad Fittler. ©NRL Photos

2000   

The NRL accepts a $400 million bid from Foxtel for pay television rights to the game for the next six years. Foxtel’s offer beats a rival bid by the Seven Network’s C7 and is the largest pay-TV rights contract in Australian sporting history.

2001   

The Sydney Roosters offer former Canberra and Australian fullback Brett Mullins a one-year incentive contract.

2006   

Dual international Mat Rogers is released from the final year of his contract with the ARU on compassionate grounds. The decision clears him to link with the Gold Coast Titans in 2007.

2008   

Parramatta legends Ray Price, Eric Grothe and Brett Kenny are voted onto the Eels’ football club board after a dramatic AGM. Long-serving chairman Alan Overton is one of four directors deposed at the elections.

2009   

South Sydney’s boom signing Sam Burgess is officially welcomed to the club after arriving from England.

2010   

Independence Day finally arrives for rugby league in Australia with the way cleared for an Independent Commission to run the game. New ARL chairman John Chalk makes the historic announcement after a five-hour meeting of ARL directors at the NSW Leagues Club.

“It is a historic day,” Chalk said. “This decision can bring the game into a new era of rugby league.” The search then begun on for eight commissioners to take the game’s helm.

2010   

Parramatta sign former Penrith and Manly winger Chris Hicks to a one-year deal.

2012   

Queensland name a 14-man Emerging Origin squad for 2013. The squad is: Ben Barba (Canterbury), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly), Dale Copley (Brisbane), Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters), Martin Kennedy (Sydney Roosters), Edrick Lee (Canberra), Andrew McCullough (Brisbane), Josh McGuire (Brisbane), Chris McQueen (Souths), Michael Morgan (North Queensland), Justin O’Neill (Melbourne), Josh Papalii (Canberra), Ben Ridge (Gold Coast) and William Zillman (Gold Coast).

 

This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.