What is the Knockout?

The Redfern All Blacks have won the 2015 and 2016 NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockouts. By tradition, this now gives us the right, and responsibility, to host this incredible Aboriginal community sporting and cultural event – now in its 47th year!

The New South Wales Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout began in Sydney in 1971.  The Knockout, often described as a ‘modern day Corroboree’ draws teams and supporters from Ballina to Bega along the coast and west to Bourke. The Knockout is a four-day carnival of fiercely contested, tough, world class Rugby League, where victory is cited as a lifetime highlight for players and communities.  But it’s far more than a sporting event.  It has importance as a cultural vehicle and event for Aboriginal social and cultural expression. The Knockout is reminiscent of a four-day traditional ceremonial dance and celebration and enables new social and cultural practices to emerge; it is an opportunity for families to gather, reunite as a community and barrack for their hometown and mob, to relive past glories and to remember those who have passed on.

The Knockout was never simply about football, it was about family, it was about community.

For most of the 45-year history of the Knockout it has been organised by the winning team community.  Involving teams of volunteers, often with limited experience of organizing an event of this scale and significance. The event features a four day sporting and cultural event held over the October long weekend each year attracting over 60,000 people to the host city.  The competition includes women and juniors.  The juniors include U 12s so as to include girls and boys and the U15s and U 17s so as to provide opportunities for selection and talent scouts.

Hosting the Knockout is therefore an important opportunity for a community to not only showcase, with immense pride, local talent and skills on and off the field, but also to build community capacity and develop leadership.  The event promotes keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fit and healthy, it is tobacco and alcohol free; and provides business opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs and local business. Live coverage on the National Indigenous Television of the final days of competition has brought a new level of interest and opportunities for hosting the Knockout.

Knockout Stats