‘The Alphabet Cup’

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As most of you who’ve spent any time on the web know, all of us love an excellent record. And because the treasured few of you who’ve learn any of my articles know, I really like delving right into a little bit of rugby league Historical past.

Rugby league as a code has tended to neglect its wealthy historical past, an instance being how the Corridor of Fame was arrange after which uncared for for a decade till 2018.

It additionally lags behind different sports activities comparable to cricket within the richness of the mythology and legend surrounding the sport.

Cricket’s nice moments are typically immortalised in print and there are many nice cricket books in addition to quite a few locations to go to delve into the statistical evaluation that has all the time accompanied that sport.

Perhaps the light tempo and prolonged excursions which might be cricket’s hallmark make that sports activities followers extra more likely to bask in leisurely exploration of the sport’s historical past.

Rugby league tends to maneuver quick and be extra concerning the tough and tumble of 80 minutes, with narratives hardly ever stretching previous the final refereeing controversy or marquee conflict.

With some notable exceptions it’s uncommon to see high quality writing concerning the nice narratives of the previous within the mainstream and it’s much more uncommon to listen to a younger halfback touted as the following Duncan Thompson, slightly than the following Johnathan Thurston.

Johnathan Thurston

JT is one latest retiree. (Photograph by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Photographs)

So impressed by a set of cricket articles a number of years again by one other Roarer (thanks JGK) I’ve set myself the duty of choosing and describing an all-time nice rugby league workforce for every letter of the alphabet to play within the legendary Alphabet Cup.

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Why on earth would somebody need to do that? I’ve a number of causes:

1. Because the season hots up and tempers flare it’d give us a second to step again in time and mirror on the greats who’ve come earlier than us and that the sport itself is extra essential than the final ahead go,

2. Perhaps some forgotten gem might be unearthed and obtain his second within the solar, and

three. I’m a tragic and it offers me an excuse to indulge myself. Let’s face it, these won’t be articles designed to begin a raging fireplace of outraged feedback – “Duncan Thompson over Viv Thicknesse? You’re kidding me!”.

So, beginning with the As (thanks Captain Apparent) I’ll present a prime 17 for every letter, plus two ‘Better of the Relaxation’ groups.

I’ll present some fundamental stats for every participant, being their membership, period, variety of video games and any honours they’ve acquired (e.g. member of the Corridor of Fame, chosen within the ARL Group of the Century). I can even present a short background on every participant.

Wherever attainable gamers might be picked in place (though the very first participant within the ‘A’ Group makes this extra of a suggestion than a rule!) and I’m proud to say that there’s just one occasion the place I’ve needed to mix letters to kind a workforce (U/X/Z).

That has left me with solely 442 gamers to find.

On the whole, I’ve caught to some pretty fundamental choice standards. Gamers have been chosen as follows:

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1. Immortals / Corridor of Fame
2. Groups of the Century (ARL, NSWRL, QRL)
three. 2018 Corridor of Fame Nominees that didn’t fairly make it (a brand new class for 2018, because of the NRL belatedly reviving the Corridor of Fame idea)
four. Australian Representatives
5. QLD/NSW representatives
6. England/NZ reps who performed some a part of their profession within the NRL
7. Membership gamers, both NRL, NSWRL or BRL – There are lower than 50 gamers chosen who fall into this class
eight. For the interchange gamers, I’ll lean in direction of a balanced bench, however not on the expense of together with an excellent participant. One workforce has three Golden Boot winners on the bench, all backs.

And now to the groups themselves. Whereas the standard varies, the hypothetical league between these groups might be laborious fought.

16 of the 26 groups consist solely of nationwide workforce representatives, three groups have no less than ten Corridor of Fame members of their 17 and three groups embrace multiple immortal.

And eventually, listed below are a few random oddities that got here out through the course of to whet your urge for food:

– W, S and E are nice letters for hookers whereas there have been different letters, even in sturdy groups, the place I struggled to fill the position (the Ms for instance).
– The Os seem to favour brutal forwards with a little bit of loopy about them.
– The Bs have some severe depth within the entrance row and at fullback.
– Regardless of a reasonably vital lock ahead with an R surname, in my view the Cs have the very best again row in historical past, however the Ps have a powerful case with ridiculous again row depth.
– The Ls have some fairly useful halves to select from and the depth within the Ms, Ss and Ts is excessive as nicely. However arguably none of them examine to the Js halfback riches.

Andrew Johns NSW Blues coach

Andrew Johns may function someplace within the Js. (AAP Picture/Tracey Nearmy)

Rugby league certain was totally different within the early days. Most individuals get that there was no professionalism and restricted coaching in comparison with what we’ve now, however the factors that acquired me included the next.

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Each time the Australia aspect toured England, they needed to go by boat and the excursions could be six months lengthy. So the membership competitors could be with out its greatest gamers for the second half of the competitors, together with finals.

This skews the information for golf equipment (some sturdy golf equipment didn’t win deserved titles) but additionally for gamers. The perfect gamers of the period typically have modest membership information as a result of they merely didn’t play!

Nice gamers misplaced a lot of their careers on account of conflict, however some groups at membership stage did very nicely in comparison with others throughout this time (e.g Balmain through the first World Battle).

The principles about finals modified on a regular basis. We didn’t all the time have a finals sequence or a grand remaining.

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Minor premiers typically had the appropriate to a remaining problem even after they misplaced the ultimate.

In some seasons finals had been performed for factors, so if after the common season you had been 4 factors clear you could possibly lose the ultimate and nonetheless win the premiership. And on a number of events seasons had been truly referred to as off early when a workforce was a great distance in entrance.

On the finish of all of it I’ll attempt to rank the groups, so let me know which letter you suppose will come out on prime.

I might be doing a workforce each week, so look out for the As coming quickly.


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