[Article 9916]William “Ranji” Joass. Wests Archives in Action.

Below is the story of how we found the grandson of William “Ranji” Joass.

Wests Player number 85. (1911)

It all started a few weeks ago when I was researching for some info on of all things an Old Souths player.

I came across this story in a 1964 Rugby League News program…..

1964 death notice in RLN

Who is William Ranji Joass I hear you ask….if you keep reading this article that question and more will be answered.

With help of Trove, Goggle, Wests Archives, Terry Williams, Steve Baker and Faye Orphan, Ranjis life came to life……


Ranji was a nickname that was given to him way back in time.

His real name is William James Joass.

The history of the nickname comes from League Historian Terry Williams.

* “Ranji” Joass got his nickname from the Indian Prince who played cricket for England at the turn of the 20th century – not sure what nationality Joass was but he was a great servant of the club and game. He certainly deserves more recognition. Thanks Terry.

Ranji was born in 1886 and started playing Rugby Union around the early 1900’s .

1906 team photo saints both brothers

Ranji and his brother Alf are in this St George team.

1906 saints first game in syd comp ru

Both Ranji and Alf get a mention in this story.

1906 team list saints ru

Note: E.Courtney in team.

1906 team ru tedda courtney playing same team

St George Team v Illawarra team at Wollongong.

1906 family photo ranji in saints jumper

Family photo taken outside the Joass home in Haldon st Lakemba.

Ranji in his St George jumper.

1907 rugby union ranji playing with saints

1908 teams ru saints v wests

In 1908 you can see a few future Wests Rugby League players in both teams.

1909 runion story about ranji

Great word “grafter”.

1909 city v country

Ranji in a winning Metro Team.

1910 metro v amercian unis team list

Ranji playing for Metro v The Yanks.

1910 story of ranji year ru

1910 honor list

This was Ranjis and Alfs last year at Saints and playing Rugby Union.


Rugby League.

Ranji and his brother went over to Rugby League in 1911 and they both played for their local team Wests aka

The Fruit Pickers.

Ranji was 25 in 1911.

1911 joass brothers playing rl

1911 game played at the metters ground.

This game was played at the Newtown home ground in 1911. Metters’ Ground or Oval.

1911 alf sent off

1911 photo jim stack,ranji and edward ellis

Jim Stack, Ranji and Edward Ellis.

1912 advert for game kangaroos v metropolis

Below there are some very big names playing in this game.

1912 team list aust v metro

Ranjis old mate from his St George days is now playing for Australia .


1912 tedda courtney photo

Pratten Park Wests first game 1912

1912 first game at pp

Photo of opening of Pratten Park 1912

Official opening of my favourite ground Pratten Park.

1912 story of first game at pp

A huge piece of Wests history was witness by both Ranji and Alf Joass.

The First game of Rugby League played at Pratten Park.

1912 team list nsw v qld

Ranji playing for NSW 32 beat QLD 4.

1912 team list aust v metro

1914 team photo

1914 Wests team.* Ranji.

1915 ranji in action photo at scg

Action photo taken at the SCG in 1915 * Ranji.

1917 team photo

Team photo 1917 * Ranji

1919 city cup winners.

1919 Wests City Cup winners. * Ranji.

1920 team photo

Team photo 1920. *Ranji.

1921 program

Program from 1921.

Ranji Joass is now 35 years of age.

1922 story about ranji

1932 cartoon of ranji

Cartoon of Ranji.

1922 swimming at abbotsford

Ranji was involved in different sports as well.

2019 ranji stats for wests

Ranji complete game tally at Wests .

Thanks to Geoff Ibbett from Wests Archives for this info.

1937 photo of ranji and skinny age 51

Ranji made a come back in 1937 at the age of 51.


Its now 2019 and after checking with Neil Bennett who looks after the Wests Players Medals at the Wests Archives it was discovered that Ranjis and Alf’s Medals had not been collected.

How do you find the next of kin of a Wests player who played in the very early days of Rugby League.

Not so easy…..but with the help of the excellent column  In Search in the Daily Telegraph I was contacted by Faye Orphin and Steve Baker who supplied me with extra info on Ranji and his family.

Faye told me about a Gary Joass who is her cousin and Garys dad was Ranji son.

Garys dad was also called William but he was known as Tonto.

Tonto played First Grade Rugby League for the new Canterbury Bankstown team in 1935 and 1936.

Bill “Tonto” Joass is player number 15 for the Berries.

1935 Garys dad playing for CB first grade.

I checked Trove for a  Gary Joass and Bingo…a small story about him was in the SMH.

1946 Gary Joass story.

This gave me a clue of how old Gary should be and after checking the Death Notices it appeared that Gary Joass may still be with us.

One more advert in In Search and who should ring……Gary Joass himself.

Gary was coming to Sydney in late November 2019 so a time and date was fixed to present him with his grandfathers Medal.

2019 Gary and Neil

Neil Bennett from Wests Archives presents Gary with the Medal at Wests Ashfield.

2019 Gary with medal at wests 26 Dec 2019

A very happy and proud grandson.

2019 Gary with both medals Ranji and Alfs.

Gary Joass with his grandfathers and Great Uncles Medals.

I would again like to thank the boys at Wests Archives, Faye Orphin, Steve Baker, Terry Williams.

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