1980 – 1989

1980    The first ‘State of Origin’ was won by Queensland 20-10

The ‘Little Master’ Clive Churchill died in 1985 aged 58.

Newcastle Rugby League changed forever when the Newcastle Knights joined the NSWRL competition in 1988.

Rule changes in the 1980’s included the introduction of the sin bin (1982), the value of a try was raised from three to four points (1983), the introduction of the handover after six tackles (1983) and the ‘head-bin’ was introduced for players suffering minor head injuries, which allowed injured players to return to the field of play after 10 minutes without affecting the team’s quota of replacements. (1987)

In 1989 the numbering of forwards was reversed. Prior to this the front row was 11, 12 and 13.


1980 Alan Dagwell retired after 301 first grade games for Western Suburbs, his career spanning 1966 -1980.
1981        Jeff Masterman (Kurri Kurri) played two games for N.S.W. and two Tests for Australia
Terry Regan (Cessnock) won ‘Country Player of the Year’
1982       Willie Tarry (Cessnock) won ‘Country Player of the Year’
1987       Steve Walters (Lakes United) won ‘Country Player of the Year’
1989        Mark Sargent (Central Charlestown, Canterbury, and Newcastle Knights) won the Rothmans Medal       for ‘Player of the Year’


Western Suburbs won four of the first five premierships of the decade 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984 while Lakes United won the following three 1985, 1986, 1987. Maitland won in 1983 and South Newcastle won the final two premierships of the decade in 1988 and 1989.


North Nelson Bay replaced North Newcastle in the competition in 1989

Representative games

1981     Newcastle defeated France 29-0
1984     Great Britain defeated Newcastle 28-18
1986     Newcastle was defeated by New Zealand 17-22
Newcastle won the Country Rugby League Championships in 1981 and 1984.