SA Rugby Union was established on the 28th July 1932 following a public meeting convened in March 1932 by Advertiser journalist, Ian Sabey. That meeting saw the formation of the Adelaide Rugby Club with two 7-aside teams ready to compete. Interest grew and by the end of the year, the Royal Australian Navy, Adelaide University and the Waratahs (an offshoot of the Adelaide Rugby Club) had also been established and ready to field teams in a local, ad hoc competition.
Adelaide rugby quickly grew and within a year, South Australia had played its first interstate match against Victoria. Over the following two decades, Rugby grew across the metropolitan region and by the 1950’s, South Australia boasted a total of eight clubs.
In 1951, as the management of competitions and finances grew, it was decided that it was in the Union’s best interest to become an incorporated body.
Over the following years, SA Rugby continued to flourish and by 1971 clubs included Adelaide University, Roseworthy College, Army, Burnside, Elizabeth, Gawler, Glenelg (later to become Brighton), North Adelaide, Old Collegians, Onkaparinga, Port Adelaide, Southern Suburbs, West Torrens and Woodville. Other clubs to have come and gone in SA include Aquinas, Black Forest, Central Districts, Flinders University, Murray Bridge, Salisbury, Smithfield Plains, Edinburgh, Lincoln, Pulteney Grammar School, Salisbury High School, Salisbury Com. Schools, Salisbury Teachers College, S.C.A.E., South Australian Institute of Technology, St Peters College, St Marks College (all affiliates of Adelaide University RUFC), Tea Tree Gully, Kingswood, Kingston (later to become Glenelg and then Brighton), Adelaide, Royal Australian Naval Reserve, Whyalla, Waratahs, North Adelaide Baptist, Prince Alfred Old Collegians, Army, East Torrens, RAAF, SA Railways Institute and RAN. Glenelg was renamed Brighton in 1978.
In 1999, SA Rugby again embraced corporate change and relinquish its Incorporated Association status and became a Company Limited by Guarantee, further underlining its commercial stability.
In 2006, SA Rugby Union Ltd amalgamated with the SA Junior Rugby Union.
Currently there are thirteen clubs, 11 of which have junior sides, 12 of which have senior sides and seven of which have a women’s side. SA also has an an Over 35’s club named the ‘Golden Oldies’.
For information on individual clubs in South Australia visit the Club Contacts page of this website.
Don Smith Medal
The Don Smith Medal is presented annually to the best Premier Grade player as determined by points, allocated in each Premiership Round during the season, by match referees.
Donald Smith joined Woodville RUFC in 1933. He worked at Islington Railway Station Workshops, as did Charlie Hill and others who played in the team. Don was the Club Captain and a State Representative in 1936 and 1939.
Don Smith enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in 1939 and was a member of the H.M.A.S
Perth. He played as a member of the Perth’s team in a seven-a-side competition in Alexandria, Egypt.
Don lost his life when the H.M.A.S Perth was sunk in the Sundra Straits by Japanese warships.
A Woodville team mate decided that “Smithy should be remembered” and so Len Dangerfield donated a trophy for the Best and Fairest player during a season.
Today, in South Australian Rugby, an annual highlight is the presentation of the Don Smith Medal.
For a list of past Don Smith Medal winners, click here.
For the full list of award recipients from the Don Smith Medal Presentation Night please refer to our Annual Reports.
South Australian Rugby Union Premiership
For a list of SA Rugby’s Premiership winners, click here.