Sun Surf & Scrums - The Story of the Manly Marlins

Whilst the Manly District Rugby Union Football Club (Manly DRUFC) was formed in 1906, records have shown rugby was played in Manly prior to this - in 1883 the Manly Beach Football Club advertised in newspapers of its existence and that its home ground was Ivanhoe Park. Manly council purchased Ivanhoe Park on 17th December 1883 and ultimately it became known as Manly Oval in the 1890s (or colloquially known as the Village Green).

In 1884 “Beach” was dropped and it became Manly Football Club. In 1892 two other rugby clubs were formed: the Manly Waratahs (the Manly cricket club still uses this name) and the Manly Federals Football Club. The Waratahs only lasted a few seasons.

At this time, a local gentleman, Frank L. Row played for Manly Federals and Wallaroos. Selected for NSW, he then was appointed as the first "EVER" Wallaby captain. He played and captained Australia in their first test against the touring British Isles in 1899 at the SCG before a large crowd. Australia won 13-3.
Row, retired as a player in 1903, then immersing himself in his passion for the inclusion of a Manly team into the then new Sydney Premiership Competition. This materialised in 1906 when Manly was invited to join the premiership. Frank Row was elected as the first Chairman (of selectors) of the new "District" club in the same year, and was honour with life membership of the club in 1909. The Wallabies paid tribute to our first "Captain" by visiting his grave site in Manly before opening game of the Loins tour of 2013.

Thus in 1906 The Federals and Manly clubs informally merged and became Manly DRUFC that was admitted into the Sydney 1st Grade competition on 21st April 1906. Press coverage at this time used the “Manlys” plural in reference to the two founding clubs. The team wore a white jersey with red cuffs and collar. Unfortunately, Manly was bottom of the table that inaugural season with 2 wins from 15 matches.

Manly finally was awarded its first premiership in 1922 after a 6 all draw in the Grand Final with Balmain. Other premierships followed in 1932, 1942, 1943, 1950, 1983 and1997.

Manly adopted a royal blue jersey in 1923 and became known as the Manly Blues. In 1997, Manly RUFC adopted the name the “Marlins”. This has become a well known rugby brand in the grade competition and globally.

Manly Oval continues to be the Marlins home ground. The club house was on Sydney Road and was sold in 2000. The club moved to the Manly Memorial Club, home of the Manly RSL-Sub Branch from 1927, on Raglan Street but now has its home at the Manly Bowling Club owned by the Marlins major sponsor, the Mounties Group.

The grandstand at the oval was built in 2001 and it’s roof, a round plate type structure, has colloquially become known as the Flying Saucer. In fact it was designed with the stingray in mind, creatures found in nearby Manly Cove.

The Present Day

In 2014 the Marlins fielded seven teams in senior rugby, 4 grade teams and 3 colts, and in this year all seven teams made the Finals Series, with Third Grade Colts and Second Grade Colts making the Grand Finals, and Second Grade winning the Colin Caird Shield and becoming 2014 Premiership Winners.

The future of the Manly Marlins is secure as a result of the dedication of our volunteers, the life blood of our club, and the loyal fan base - the Marlins enjoy a home crowd of up to 7,000 fans at home games. The atmosphere at Manly Oval - "The Village Green" is unique, with a fun, family atmosphere mixed with a passion and tribalism experienced nowhere else in the region.

In 2015 Manly Rugby is proud to publish our own Book that chronicles the story behind the Manly Marlins. "Sun, Surf & Scrums, The Story of the Manly Marlins" is available to purchase at Humphreys Newsagency, or by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our Club Patrons are Alan Jones AO, Jean Hay AO, Mayor of Manly, Hon Mike Baird, Premier of NSW and the Hon Tony Abbott, Prime Minster of Australia