Skip to content

The National Museum of Australia is temporarily closed to the public until further notice. Read more in our coronavirus statement

  • Closed
  • Free general admission

Calling the game

Commentators, photographers and journalists have all helped bring rugby league to the people. Coverage has expanded through newspapers, radio, television and now the internet.

Many media identities have become almost as well-known as the players they cover. It is through their words that the story of rugby league has unfolded.

Rugby league players running on the field
Newtown versus Easts by Sam Hood

Capturing the moment

From the beginning of rugby league, photographers have captured the crash of the tackle, the moment the ball crosses the tryline and the expressions of agony and elation on the players’ faces. Pictorial spreads featured in publications such as the Sydney Mail and the Town and Country Journal.

Photographs taken by Sam Hood, John O’Gready, Ern McQuillan, John Elliott, Colin Whelan and their colleagues documented the passion of the game.

Sam Hood ran a popular photographic studio and captured the everyday life of Sydney during the first half of the 20th century. He played a leading role in getting newspapers, including the Labor Daily, to use sporting photographs. Many early images of rugby league are credited to Sam.

On the air

The first sounds of rugby league crackled over the radio in 1924, bringing the excitement of the game into homes across the country.

Reg Grundy, Frank Hyde and Tiger Black turned commentary into an art form, passing on the torch to the likes of Ray Hadley and David Morrow.

Frank Hyde’s gravelly voice is synonymous with rugby league. Starting in 1953 with radio station 2SM, he was unbeaten in the listener ratings for 31 years.

His trademark call from his card table on the sidelines, ‘It’s long enough, it’s high enough, it’s straight between the posts!’, could be heard on radios everywhere.

Amco Cup

The Amco Cup was the first Australian competition created for television. The mid-week knockout competition started in 1974 and was played over four 20-minute quarters to allow more time for advertising.

The Amco Cup also launched the television career of league commentator Ray Warren.

Steeden brand rugby ball with a NSWRL logo and a handwritten signature bottom right.
Rugby ball signed by singer Tina Turner

The Tina Turner years

In 1989 the New South Wales Rugby League set out on an ambitious marketing campaign featuring United States singer Tina Turner.

The initial campaign, featuring her song ‘What You Get Is What You See’ proved a success. The next year she followed up with ‘(Simply) The Best’.

The songs provided the soundtrack for what was to be a glorious period of rugby league.

Calling the game

Download sports broadcaster Tracey's Holmes's League of Legends catalogue extract for more on calling the game.

Return to Top