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Updated: 18/05/2006

History of Rugby League

1995 Rugby League Centenary Stamp Pack

Professional and amateurs played side by side in the 1880's but increasingly the Northern and Southern English Rugby Unions were becoming polarised around payment to players. On April 2nd 1895 the Yorkshire and Lancashire clubs decided to form an independent union but this was forbade by the RFU. The clubs decided to go it alone as the Northern Rugby Union. It was not till 1922 that they adopted the name Rugby League.

In 1907 a private tour left New Zealand for England via Australia and the New South Wales Rugby League was formed. In 1924 the Australian Rugby League as formed.

Papua and New Guinea released a Pre Stamped Envelope in 1984 to celebrate 10 years of League in the country. Mint, British Lions Cachet and Postmarked

The 1895 separation was celebrated in the UK by the release of the five stamps shown above on the 3rd October 1995. Benham released a set of 5 silk covers with commemorative postmarks showing Jonathan Davies, Va'Aiga Tuigamala, Shaun Edwards, Morvin Edwards and Dennis Betts.  New Zealand also released four stamps representing Club, Junior, International and historical Rugby League. The stamps were released as a First Day Cover and a FDC of the Souvenir Sheet. Both countries also issued a Joint Cover.

League evolved into the major rugby code in Australia, but remained the poor cousin in the other countries. In the 1990s there was a major upheaval with the formation of "Super league" and the change to professionalism by rugby union.

1 Stamps
1974 Rugby stamp The first stamp was issued in 1974 (shown at left) as part of the Non Olympic Sports Issue. The issue did not distinguish between union and league. There was no pictorial postmark but there was an official Australia Post Cover.

Australia's indigenous game, Australian Football, was also part of the issue. It was fitting considering that one of it's founding fathers, Tom Wills was educated at Rugby School.

A Souvenir Cover was issued on the 21st September 1992 and showed Allan Langer, Captain of the Broncos. A Second Cover was issued on the 27th September 1992 and showed Allan Langer and Glen Lazarus receiving the Winfield Cup.

3. Postmarks


Date Issue


Post Office


APM22042 18/3/90 Australia 90 Nat Philatelic Exhibition Canberra 2061
APM22145 13/4/90 to 16/4/90 4th Suncorp Nth Qld Games in which Rugby League was played Mackay 4740
APM24900 21/9/92 Broncos bid for Premiership Brisbane 4000
APM24901 27/9/92 Broncos win the Premiership Brisbane 4000
APM30250 8/8/97 Adelaide Rams Aust Post Match Day Adelaide 5000
APM31180 26/7/98 Adelaide Rams League night Adelaide 5000

4. Personalised Stamps.
Mal Meninga Canberra Raiders A4 P stamp Souvenir Sheet.
2001 Channel Nine Footy Show A4 P stamp Souvenir Sheet.
2001 Souvenir Sheet for each of the 13 Australian Rugby League Clubs.
2002 Souvenir Sheet for each of the 14 Australian Rugby League Clubs, after the reinstatement of the South Sydney Rabbitoes. It also included the Brisbane Broncos.

5. Meters.
Carina Rugby League Club

6. Overprinted PSEs
A set of overprinted Australian Animal PSEs was released to commemorate the "Souths" Brisbane RLFC being in all three grade Grand Finals in 1980.
An overprinted PSE was released to commemorate the South Queensland Junior Rugby League Carnival  in 1981. The cachet was based on the New Zealand Health Stamps Sheetlet and First Day Cover of 1967.