South Sydney Rabbitohs: They Wear the Red and Green!

"Like Rabbitoh Father, Like Rabbitoh Son!"

“Like Rabbitoh Father, Like Rabbitoh Son!”

I’ll never forget where I was the first time I laid eyes on that jersey with the bunny on it. I was inside an apparel store in Alice Springs on December 31, 2008. I was browsing through the jerseys, and I came across one with a rabbit on it; it was the jersey of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. I said to myself, “A rugby team represented by a bunny rabbit?! How can there be-there’s no such thing!”, I scoffed, trying very hard to hide any sign of arrogance. Still, it did look a little cute, with its slightly round belly. I didn’t buy the jersey, but it wasn’t until a few days later in Sydney, where I saw highlights of their games on TV, even though it wasn’t rugby season yet. In those few minutes, I gasped in both horror and awe at the sheer brutality and speed of the gigantic men in red and green stripes. By the time I got back home, I started doing a little research on the team and the logo. By Christmas of 2009, Santa left me four different Rabbitohs jerseys under my tree. I loved each and every one of them so much, I started wearing them almost everywhere, showing off my bunny logo like a proud peacock, even if nobody got the reference. A few months later, I saw the movie Watership Down, based on the best-selling book. Before that, I had no idea rabbits could be so awesome, let alone intimidating and scary. Quite a twist on the cute and cuddly bucktoothed critter. But I digress. Since my trip to Australia, I have gained a fondness for both rabbits and the savage ballet that is rugby. I have also gained a fan-like appreciation for the team that wears red and green: the South Sydney Rabbitohs. And when I say “fan-like appreciation”, I mean I want soooooo bad to return to Australia and see a game in person! Allow me to introduce you to a team that proves bunnies and not only awesome, but can be intimidating and mean, especially in red and green!

South Sydney Rabbitohs: GO BUNNIES!

South Sydney Rabbitohs: GO BUNNIES!*

Within the confines of Australia and New Zealand is the NRL, or National Rugby League, which consists of 16 rugby league teams from both countries. Of the 16, 9 of them play within the city limits of Sydney. And in a little pocket of South Sydney, lies a group of gentlemen who don red and green jerseys with a bunny emblazoned on their chest. Since 1908, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have been one of the most formidable teams in Australian rugby. But how did a rabbit become the symbol for a team associated with a sport so savage? Before the club was founded, players would practice their games on a rugby oval in the suburb of Redfern in Sydney. The oval, however, was infested with rabbits, an animal that has, historically speaking, never has been quite welcome in the land down under. Especially when that animal almost ate Australia and its wildlife out of existence in the 19th century. To get rid of the rabbits and at the same time, earn some extra cash, players would catch rabbits, skin them on the spot, and sell the furs to locals on the streets while shouting “Rabbitohs!” as they marched through Sydney with blood and fur dripping on their myrtle-green jerseys. The blood-stained green jerseys became the founding colors for the team. But in actuality, the red and green colors came from a flower called the waratah, which the British referred to as a “red-fern”, hence the name of the neighborhood in Sydney where the club was founded; the team was originally referred to as the Redfern Waratahs. However, the suburb of Redfern was named in honor of Dr. William Redfern, one of the first doctors of New South Wales who treated convicts and poor settlers. Another less gruesome interpretation was that players would shoo the pesky cottontails of their field by shouting “Rabbitoh, Rabbitoh!” in order to scare them away.

Greg Inglis: Rabbitohs fullback and center.

Greg Inglis: Rabbitohs fullback and center.

Reggie Rabbit & Greg Inglis: South Sydney's two biggest stars!

Reggie Rabbit & Greg Inglis: South Sydney’s two biggest stars!

Adam Reynolds: "You'll get a kick outta this Rabbitoh!"

Adam Reynolds: “You’ll get a kick outta this Rabbitoh!”

In America, my only hopes of seeing a Rabbitohs game was via the internet, since I have not yet figured out which channel in America can give me Australian rugby games. And with a 15 hour time difference, I don’t think I have it in me to stay up past 4 am. Clips of games via YouTube and the team’s website have been rather generous. Lately, I have found a way to watch the games over the internet again minus the commercials on new.livestream.com/nrl. The moment I fell in love with the thrill of the NRL and the Rabbitohs came during a game in the summer of 2012 when the Rabbitohs were playing their crosstown rivals, the Sydney Roosters. There was about 2 minutes left in the game, and the Bunnies were down 22 to 12. The boys in the red and green ran the ball towards the try line, and kicked a goal bringing them up to 18 points. With only a minute left, the Rabbitohs gained possession again and that’s when the magic happened. Without getting tackled, the Rabbitohs ran the ball all the way up the field, and as the clock ticked down to zero, a try was scored, thus sending the Rabbitohs home crowd into a total frenzy. But it wasn’t just the crowd; the Rabbitohs ran into the stands, hugging their fans with the biggest smiles on their faces! Afterwards, a goal was kicked, and the Rabbitohs came from behind to win the game, 24 to 22. But it wasn’t just the game that had me on my feet, it was the announcer that made me ecstatic! Announcer Warren Smith’s play-by-play made me wish I was in the stands wearing my jersey!

“…try and stop the Rabbitohs. He goes down to Sutton, who gives it Taylor, who brings it back! And gives it to McQueen! They’re away! Merritt’s there again! Here he is! Merritt, Merritt’s linked up with Luke! Luke for the line! Keeps it alive. Reynolds! Reynolds!

You can take me now, I have seen it all! I have seen everything! The Rabbitohs have returned the favor, and there is a new chapter in the book of feuds!”

Hearing those words coming out of Warren Smith with that great Aussie tone of voice only added to the ambiance of the moment. The sheer, unadulterated joy from the players faces was unlike anything I had seen in American sports in quite some time. Not since the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup back in 1994 or when the New York Giants won Superbowl XLII in 2008 by destroying the New England Patriots perfect season. What was even more special about that win was how the team did something that I never see in sports nowadays: the players jumping into the stands to embrace their loyal fans! Nowhere else is that sense of commraderie present than at an Australian rugby match. If there is any proof that the Aussie love sports, that game and that reaction from the team is more than enough proof. That, plus the fact that if you want to make friends in Australia, wear a rugby jersey on the street, and wait for the compliments to come rolling in! Just make sure they’re not insults! From that game on, I have been following the team, on Facebook, on Twitter, and learning more and more about the great game of rugby. I even got a wonderful shout-out from Warren Smith on Twitter when he wished me great success with my blog, not to mention he was flattered that I was a big Rabbitohs fan all the way in New York.

Why did I choose to follow this team? Could it be that it was the first Australian rugby jersey I came across in the most obscure of places in the desert? Could it be the fact that the team historically comes from a working-class part of Sydney, and I tend to root for underdog-like clubs? Is it because that the team hasn’t won a premiership since 1971, and I want to see teams break a really long losing streak, providing that its the team I’m rooting for? Could it be because I miss Sydney very much, and watching these games reminds me of a place I dream about going back to? Or could it be that I have a real soft spot for bunnies? That’s right, I said it. I like bunny rabbits! What are you gonna do, call me a wimp? Watch a few minutes of these guys on the turf, and try to call me that! It’s not the size of rabbit, but the size of the fight in the rabbit! And if you’re still not convinced that rabbits aren’t tough, especially Australian rabbits? Check out Hugh Jackman as the Easter Bunny in Rise of the Guardians. I’ll bet he sports red and green when he’s not hiding eggs! Speaking of Australian stars, actor Russell Crowe is a shareholder of the team. Huh, now I know where his anger in his movies comes from! Ha, I kid!

"Me and My Mates!"

“Me and My Mates!”

The Rabbitohs also have a fight song, which you can learn right here…

Sung to the tune of the Battle Hymn Of The Republic:

South Sydney Marches On….

CHORUS
Glory, Glory to South Sydney
Glory, Glory to South Sydney
Glory, Glory to South Sydney
South Sydney Marches On

When speaking of the champions
One stands above the rest
Of glories old and records proud
When often put to test
Of fine traditions, history
That others cannot best
They wear the RED & GREEN

REPEAT CHORUS

They mauled the Balmain Tigers
Slew the Dragons from St. George
The Seagulls and the Mounties next
Were crushed with mighty force
They humbled Parramatta
And the Berries in due course
They wear the RED & GREEN

REPEAT CHORUS

They plucked the Western Magpies
Slashed the Newtown bag of blue
The Eastern Suburbs rooster crowed
And then was conquered too
The greatest name in any game
Within South Sydney grew
They wear the RED & GREEN

REPEAT CHORUS (twice)

GO BUNNIES!

The Burrow: Reserved for Rabbitohs Fans!

The Burrow: Reserved for Rabbitohs Fans!

*NOTE: South Sydney Rabbitohs logo is trademark intellectual property and ownership of NRL and South Sydney Rabbitohs franchise club.  Logo used here is NOT my own, and not used for profit, but for educational and entertainment purposes only.  No copyright is infringed.*

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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7 Responses to South Sydney Rabbitohs: They Wear the Red and Green!

  1. Great post Jared. Glad to finally learn something about these guys, and Aussie rugby in general. Of course, you know who is a fan of the Roosters. . .
    PS that picture at the top rules.

  2. Will Gotsis says:

    From a Tragic Rabbitohs Fan, that would have to be the best Blog on the Rabbitohs I have ever read. From the Early days and how the Rabbitohs came about, ti the Modern Day Gladiators that are Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis & Co. Glad to have you on board my friend!

  3. Darren Bowles says:

    Great story Jared, and accurate for the most part. I do want to say though, I’ve watched a lot of NRL and I’ve never heard of Warren Smith.. Are you sure it’s not Ray Warren you’re talking about? He’s been commentating footy for as long as I can recall, and he’s one of the greats.. Also, back in the early 1900s, a Rabbitoh was someone who caught and sold rabbits, not so much for fur, but for their meat. The first Souths club was apparently made up of mostly Rabbitohs, hence the name, and yes. legend has it that a few of these bunnies were found at Redfern Oval. Another story talks about the Rabbitohs at the time going to work in their footy jerseys on game day, getting them covered in rabbit blood and fur, then facing their rivals in those same jerseys, as a psych out tactic.
    If you want to see just one example of what makes Souths the pride of the league, get on YouTube and search for 1971 grand final Souths vs Manly.. A search result will come up and the first word will be courage.. Enough said, watch that one.
    Glory Glory to South Sydney!!!

  4. Theresa says:

    Hello Jared, I must say that this is a great site. However, this game you love so much it not a Rugby match. Rugby is a different footbal game the Rabbithos play rugby League or just League. I’m happy you have found such a great team to support as we are the best. Go the Rabbithos – Glory, Glory!!!

  5. Daniel says:

    Hi Jared. G’day from Redfern! Congratulations on such a great post! I discovered your blog tonight – they day after Souths won the Grand Final! I hope you got to watch the game and the coverage of the celebrations. It was a fairytale game and a real nail biter!

  6. Spoof says:

    Jared u are a true champion. u have stepped up to the plate and become a legend. u need to come back to Sydney and live in rabbitoh heartland redfern. some day last year I received a picture via sms from a friend and low and behold it was u. yes u. it was a picture of u wearing a t-shirt and the picture on the front of the t-shirt had a rabbit screwing a rooster. what a great t-shirt. I still have that picture saved in my phone. it is a classic picture and whenever the rabbits meet the roosters I send it around to any roosters fan I know and it was especially awesome sending it this year when the rabbitohs flogged the roosters 42-8. jared mate, do yourself a favour and leave the united states. u need to be back here with all the bunnies fans. its great being a rabbitoh fan. we get the hottest looking chicks. it a well known fact that rabbitoh fans are chick magnets. our team knows how to win. we love life. I was at the game that night when we beat the roosters. in the first game that season the roosters came from behind and beat us right on full time. at the match u were talking about I was there at the Sydney football stadium and the roosters got off to a good lead and it appeared that the bunnies were doomed. with ten minutes to go in the game I thought it was over for us but deep down in my heart I knew the team had a lot of spirit and could fight back. but the roosters were an awesome side too and no way would they wanna let the red and green machine back into the game. let me tell u something. the bunnies stood up to be counted. each and every one of the players showed what kind of big ticker they had that night. it was a packed stadium. the rabbits within the blink of an eye turned the game around. and right on that last play of the game let me tell u, the stadium almost crumbled when souths threw the ball around in desperation and with great urgency. I believe the announcers name was ray warren and not warren smith like u have written. he said that he has seen everything and returned the bunnies have returned the favour meaning that in round 1 of the season the roosters stole the game from the rabbits in the last minute of play. this time it was souths stealing the game in the last second of play. I remember hugging an old guy and nearly crushing him when souths scored that try in the dying seconds of the match. he was seted alongside me and during the game we spoke about football and he told me he came all the way from some remote country town to watch the match. we were both talking about how we were about to witness history with the current team and win a title, something that had eluded us for about forty years at that stage. I think the match u were talking about was round 26 in 2013 from memory. although the mighty souths Sydney bunnies didn’t go all the way in 2013, we all know that the rabbits did break a 43 year drought the following year in 2014 to bring down the thunder from the sky and claiming the crown and then a few months later flying to England to play the English champions in a game to see which team was the greatest in the world. it is history now that the mighty south Sydney rabbitohs went to England and crushed the English champions in a world record score for such a match 39-0.

  7. Cobba Carlson says:

    Excellent insight into the history of the greatest name in rugby league. Really enjoyed the story of how Redfern & the mighty Myrtle n Green were born.

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