The 1950s welcomed a new era for the Rabbitohs as Club legend Jack Rayner was announced Captain-Coach for the season. It had been a while since the lads sung the team song, which made our first win since reinstatement that much more special. Which moment will move on? Only you can decide!
Jack Rayner Captain-Coach Round 1, 1950 vs Canterbury
Top Moments - Jack Rayner Captain Coach
Rupert John Rayner, known simply as ‘Jack’ Rayner, was born on 11 April 1921 in Coraki (near Lismore), the youngest of four children of Wilfred and Gertrude Rayner, and educated in Coraki and Lismore. When the family moved to Sydney's eastern suburbs he took up hockey and cricket and became an accomplished first-grader in both. He had played a bit of rugby league at Lismore High in the 1930s, but would not tackle the game again at a serious level until he joined Souths, at 25.
Rayner enlisted for World War II in May 1941, serving four years with the 61st Infantry Battalion. In New Guinea he was co-opted to play in several inter-regiment and battalion rugby league matches - and on a muddy field at Port Moresby was spotted by Eric Lewis, former Souths player and a member of the 1937-38 Kangaroo league touring team to England and France. Lewis asked him if they both managed to live through the war would he consider playing football with South Sydney when he got home.
In 1946, Rayner turned up at Redfern to keep his word and play with a South Sydney team that had won just one game the previous year. A decision the now legendary captain-coach said he never regretted. After playing in a trial match he was graded in the Rabbitohs first grade side, and never actually played in any lower grades for Souths or anybody else in all his career. John Sattler is the only other player to achieve this rare feat, after playing all his football in first grade, which includes stints with Kurri Kurri, Souths and Brisbane Norths.
Rayner broke an ankle early in that first season, restricting his appearances while Souths endured the only winless season in the club's premiership history. But in 1947 he was fit and captained them to nine wins, setting Souths on the road to one of the greatest eras in the club's history.
He took over as coach in 1950 from Dave Watson, and with immediate success to win their first title in 18 years. His six years as captain-coach included five premierships and one of the most controversial grand final defeats in the game's history, the 1952 loss to Western Suburbs, when two major decisions cost Souths the premiership.
Souths in those days was a team filled with many great players, which also included arguably the greatest player that ever lived in Clive Churchill. ‘The Little Master’ was always the first player (and captain) picked in every representative game, but he had to play under Rayner’s leadership and coaching at Souths. There were never any negative issues between the two legends of our game.
Clive Churchill said of Jack Rayner 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. Jack was the crankiest forward I played with but what a grand fellow he was."
Rayner was renowned for his sportsmanship and for his dignified manner. He has been long regarded as one of the game's most respected elder statesman and throughout his life was the embodiment of the Australian tough but fair attitude. Rayner played five Tests on the 1948-49 Kangaroo tour, 16 games for NSW (1947-54) and 195 games for Souths.
When he played his last game in 1957 against Easts at Redfern Oval on 13 July 1957 (in Round 12), Rayner further etched his name into the club’s record books by becoming Souths’ oldest first grade player – 36 years and 93 days. He was inducted as a Life Member of the South Sydney Football Club in 1968, and in their Dream Team in 2004 as the Coach.
Rayner passed away at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, on Saturday, 16 May 2008, at midnight, aged 87.
First Win Back Round 2, 2002 vs Raiders
Top Moments - First Win Since Reinstatement
Following the euphoria of reinstatement to the competition, winning the first game was always going to be a special occasion.
Round 2, on a cold night at Canberra’s home ground, Souths took on the Raiders.
After everything the Rabbitohs’ faithful had been through, there was no sweeter feeling after waiting close to three years to sing ‘Glory Glory to South Sydney.’