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Australian Rugby celebrates 100 year birthday of oldest living Wallaby Gordon Stone

  
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4/6/2014
By ARU Media Unit


Gordon Stone played one Test for Australia, seven games for the NSW and had 93 appearances in first grade at Randwick in Sydney during his Rugby career. This was complemented by his work off the field in the medical field, including service during WWII. 

Gordon will today be joined by family and friends for a large party in Bowral, NSW to celebrate the milestone. 

Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver sent his heartiest congratulations to Gordon. 

“This is an incredible milestone for Gordon and we know he has been looking forward to sharing the occasion with his family. 

“He is a man who has lived Rugby’s values of Integrity, strong character and teamwork throughout his life and on behalf of the Australian Rugby community, I’d like to wish him a heartfelt Happy Birthday and thank him for the contribution he has made on and off the field.”

Classic Wallabies Co-President Simon Poidevin and committee member of Randwick Rugby Club was proud to see Gordon reach this milestone. 

“This is a fantastic day for Gordon and his family. He is an outstanding ambassador for our great club and game and we wish him happiness on this great day and continued good health.”  

Over his 100 years Gordon led a very full life. He was born on 6 April, 1914 to Charles and Mary Stone at the Prince Henry Hospital in Sydney where his family lived in one of only two residences on the hospital grounds. Gordon and younger brother Bill used to kick goals at the oval adjacent to the hospital every afternoon and he would frequently watch Rugby games there. 

In 1928 Gordon started secondary school at Sydney Boys High and was appointed as prefect before completing his leaving certificate in 1933. During his time at school he excelled as a Rugby player and was named captain of the first XV. 

In 1934, he debuted for Randwick in the Sydney Club Rugby Competition. This was the beginning of a long connection between Gordon Stone and Randwick. During his playing days at Randwick he made 93 first grade appearances, winning three premierships (1934, 1938 and 1940) and also coached at the club after his playing days. 

During his stellar career at Randwick, Gordon was rewarded with seven appearances for New South Wales and one Test appearance for the Wallabies against New Zealand in 1938, before World War Two broke out.   

Not paid for his Rugby like the players of today, Gordon began a traineeship with the medical department of the Prince Henry Hospital at 19 years of age. He became a Haematologist in 1934, or as it was known then, a ‘medical technologist’.
 
Gordon continued to work at the hospital where he met the love of his life, Iris Sharpe, who was working at the hospital as a nurse. With War declared, Gordon was seconded into the 119th Australian General Hospital Unit, in Ballarat, Victoria. On April 10, 1941 Gordon and Iris married in secret as Iris wasn’t allowed to be married whilst working as a nurse. 

Gordon was stationed in Darwin until June 1943 and witnessed the bombing attacks by Japan. He was then transferred to New Guinea and New Britain where he worked as a Malaria control officer until early 1945. 

Gordon and Iris’ eldest son, Peter, was born in November of the same year.
 
In 1946 Gordon was discharged from the Australian Army and the young family moved into their dream home in Royal Street, Maroubra in Sydney. The following year the couple’s daughter Judy was born. 

Gordon ended up back at his spiritual home of the Prince Henry Hospital running the Haematology Laboratory of the Pathology Department. 

Gordon’s family moved to Kogarah in 1960 where his wife Iris started and operated the Stonehaven Private Hospital. They subsequently moved to Cronulla in 1964, due to health issues suffered by Iris. However Gordon continued to work at the Prince Henry Hospital until his retirement in 1979 at the age of 65. Iris in the meantime worked as a nursing matron at the British Leyland factory complex at Zetland, until her retirement.

In January 2004 Gordon became the oldest living Wallaby when Wally Hammon OBE passed away, and in July of the same year Gordon presented George Gregan with his 100th Test Cap in Perth, during the Wallabies test against South Africa. 

The Prince Henry Hospital closed down in 2001 and Gordon provided important historical information for the Nurse’s museum that opened in 2002. 

His wife passed away in 2009 and for the past five years, Gordon has lived in the Southern Highlands.