Frank Burge circa 1914
|Born|| 14 August 1894|
Darlington, New South Wales
|Died|| 5 July 1958 63) (aged|
Marrickville, New South Wales
|Weight||93 kg (14.6 st; 205 lb)|
|Position||Lock, Second-row, Prop|
Frank “Chunky” Burge (14 August 1894 – 5 July 1958) was one of the greatest forwards in the history of rugby league in Australia.Later Burge became one of the game’s finest coaches. His club career was with Glebe and the St. George Dragons. He represented New South Wales on eighteen occasions and played thirteen test matches for the Kangaroos and played for Australia in a further twenty-three tour matches.
Glebe is an Australian rugby league foundation club who played in the New South Wales Rugby Football League's Sydney premiership, the major competition for the sport in Sydney, from 1908 until their exit at the end of 1929. They were formed on 9 January 1908, with some sources suggesting that they may have been the first Sydney rugby league club to have been created. They were nicknamed and well known as the "Dirty Reds" due to the maroon colour of their playing jerseys.
The St George Dragons was an Australian rugby league football club from the St George district in Sydney, New South Wales who played in the top level New South Wales competition and Australian Rugby League competitions from the 1921 until the 1997 ARL season, as well as the unified 1998 National Rugby League season. In 1999, they formed a joint venture with the Illawarra Steelers, creating the St George Illawarra Dragons team which continues to compete in the NRL today. As a stand-alone club, they field teams in the NSWRL underage men's and women's competitions, Harold Matthews Cup, S.G. Ball, and Tarsha Gale Cup.
The Australian national rugby league team have represented Australia in senior men's rugby league football competition since the establishment of the 'Northern Union game' in Australia in 1908. Administered by the Australian Rugby League, the Kangaroos are ranked first in the RLIF World Rankings. The team is the most successful in Rugby League World Cup history, having contested all 15 and winning 11 of them, failing to reach the final only once, in the inaugural tournament in 1954. Only four nations have beaten Australia in test matches, and Australia have an overall win percentage of 67%.
Born on 14 August 1894 in Darlington, New South Wales, Burge was playing first grade rugby union at age 14, the youngest ever to play senior rugby in either code.
Darlington is a small, inner-west suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Darlington is located about 3 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district and is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney. At the time of its incorporation in 1864, it had the distinction of being the smallest municipality in the Sydney metropolitan area, at a mere 44 acres. Darlington is bordered by City Road, Cleveland Street, Golden Grove Street, Wilson Street and Abercrombie Street.
Rugby union, commonly known in most of the world simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.
Upon switching to the professional New South Wales Rugby Football League, Burge was playing first grade for Glebe at age 16 and was selected for the state at age 18. After his attempt to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force was rejected because of a speech impediment, Burge devoted his energies to rugby league. 93 kilograms or 14 stone 9 pounds and equally effective anywhere in the forwards from lock to prop, he had the speed of a back to complement his strength and an anticipation that made him a support player without peer. Burge was a teetotaller who was way ahead of his time in observing a strict diet, he used coaching concepts familiar in modern sports psychology and upheld an all-year training regime that continued right through the long Sydney summer off-season. He debuted for Australia in the domestic 1914 Ashes series against Great Britain appearing in all three Tests. He is listed on the Australian Players Register as Kangaroo No. 88. Burge was the New South Wales Rugby Football League’s top try-scorer in 1915, 1916 and 1918 an extremely rare feat in even one year for a forward.At
The First Australian Imperial Force was the main expeditionary force of the Australian Army during World War I. It was formed on 15 August 1914, following Britain's declaration of war on Germany, initially with a strength of one infantry division and one light horse brigade. The infantry division subsequently fought at Gallipoli between April and December 1915, being reinforced by a second division which was later raised, as well as three light horse brigades. After being evacuated to Egypt the AIF was expanded to five infantry divisions, which were committed to the fighting in France and Belgium along the Western Front in March 1916. A sixth infantry division was partially raised in 1917 in the United Kingdom, but was broken up and used as reinforcements following heavy casualties on the Western Front. Meanwhile, two mounted divisions remained in the Middle East to fight against Turkish forces in the Sinai and Palestine.
On the 1919 tour of New Zealand Burge played in all four tests. In the 1920 season, he was the league’s top point scorer. Burge holds the NSWRFL/NSWRL/ARL/NRL record for most tries in a match, scoring eight in a club match for Glebe in 1920. Again in 1920 he appeared in all three Tests of the domestic Ashes series and then was selected on the 1921–22 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain where he played in all three tests and twenty representative tour matches scoring 33 tries in 23 matches, more than any touring forward before or since. Burge's representative record shows him appearing in every single Australian Test match played in the war-interrupted eight-year period between 1914 and 1922. He played 16 seasons and 148 first grade games for Glebe and was club captain for many years. His career tally of 146 first grade tries stood for eighty years as the highest by a forward until Manly-Warringah back rower Steven Menzies broke it in 2004.
The 1921–22 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain was the third ever Kangaroo tour. Again an Australasian side rather than an Australian team alone travelled to Great Britain to contest the Ashes. Coached by Arthur Hennessy and captained by Les Cubitt, the Kangaroos travelled on the RMS Tahiti to England for best-of-three series of Test matches against Great Britain for the Ashes. The tour took place during the 1921–22 Northern Rugby Football Union season and also featured matches against several of the clubs in that competition as well as other representative teams. The tour also involved some degree of player misbehaviour, with one young footballer almost sent home from San Francisco because of all the broken glasses following a drinking session on board the team's ship.
Steven Menzies, also known by the nickname of "Beaver", is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer best known for his career with the Manly Sea Eagles. Menzies has spent the majority of his playing career in the back row but in recent years he has played in the centres, at five-eighth and as a utility player off the bench.
Burge moved to St. George in 1927, retired as a player at the end of that season, and coached the club for a further three seasons. He maintained an average of a try a game for seventeen seasons scoring 218 tries in 213 senior matches with 146 coming from his 154 Sydney first grade matches. That try-scoring tally today stands at eleventh on an all-time list dominated by backs.
Burge was awarded life membership of the New South Wales Rugby League in 1934.
The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) is the governing body of rugby league in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory and is a member of the Australian Rugby League Commission. It was formed in Sydney on 8 August 1907 and was known as the New South Wales Rugby Football League (NSWRFL) until 1984. From 1908 to 1994, the NSWRL ran Sydney's, then New South Wales', and eventually Australia's top-level rugby league club competition from their headquarters on Phillip Street, Sydney. The organisation is responsible for administering the New South Wales rugby league team.
Burge died suddenly after suffering a heart attack on 5 July 1958, after watching a Newtown versus North Sydney match at Henson Park. A large funeral was held on 8 July at the Heads/Middleton reference quotes his colleague and former University rival Dick O'Brien who said on Burge's death in 1958: "May I say, as Anthony did of Caesar: his life was gentle, the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world "This was a man" '. : "I believe Frank Burge was the greatest forward the game has ever produced. Indeed, he may have been the greatest league player ever."Woronora Crematorium where he was cremated. He was survived by his wife Millie. Revered Sun Herald sports journalist, Tom Goodwin said of Burge
In 2004 he was admitted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.
In February 2008, Burge was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.Burge went on to be named as an interchange player in Australian rugby league's Team of the Century . Announced on 17 April 2008, the team is the panel's majority choice for each of the thirteen starting positions and four interchange players.
In 2008 New South Wales announced their rugby league team of the century, naming Burge at prop.
Joining fellow pre-WWII greats Dave Brown and Dally Messenger, Burge was inducted as a Rugby League Immortal in 2018, along with recent greats Norm Provan and Mal Meninga.
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