On this day in 1908 South Sydney’s ‘founding father’ also became Kangaroo No. 1 when he captained the first ever Australian Kangaroos side in their first Test match against the New Zealand All Golds at the Agricultural Ground. A crowd of 20,000 turned up to see the New Zealander’s go to a 11-2 lead at the break, and even though Australia scored two late tries in the second half it was not enough to win, with NZ winning 11-10.
Arthur Stephen Hennessy held the initial meeting that eventually led to the formation of the South Sydney Rabbitohs at his house in 17 Chapman Street, Surry Hills, in September 1907. The tough hooker/prop also captained the rebel NSW side in the first match against New Zealand All Golds in 1907 before they embarked on their tour of Great Britain. That match was played under rugby union rules because the league rule book did not arrive by boat to Australia until early 1908.
Hennessy then captained the first ever South Sydney Rabbitohs side against North Sydney Shoremen in their Round 1 match at Birchgrove Oval on 20 April 1908, which they won 11-7. He is listed as Player number 1 on our First Grade Player Register. He also captained the first New South Wales side under rugby league rules (and therefore became Player number 1 on that list also) against the New Zealand All Golds, who returned from their British tour. The Blues won this match by 18-10, after leading 14-7 at half-time.
He was also selected as one of the Australian Kangaroos on their inaugural tour of Great Britain, which left Australian shores on the day semi-finals were played. Unfortunately, Hennessy broke his jaw in the second tour match against Bradford Northern and only managed seven appearances in total.