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Posted by RLPA

February 06, 2024

Vale John Elford, pioneer of player rights

The Rugby League Players’ Association extends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of John Elford.

Hailing from northern NSW, John played all of his 116-game first grade career for the Western Suburbs Magpies.

John represented Australia at the 1972 World Cup, but only following a court battle against the NSWRL. Alongside Dennis Tutty, John sat out the 1969 NSWRL season in their fights against the competition’s transfer system.

The Elford v Buckley court battle was based on the belief that the NSWRL’s employment rules were an unreasonable restraint of trade, in which clubs had immense control over players and essentially prevented them from joining rival clubs.

Although John’s battle ended with the court siding with NSWRL, Dennis would go on to defeat the NSWRL in the High Court of Australia in 1971. That decision made not just Dennis but also John pioneers of player rights in this country because of their stand against the governing body in 1969.

John, your contribution and sacrifices will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.

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