Australian Rugby in National Reconciliation Week

by Staff Writer

Lloyd McDermott, the Ella Brothers, Andrew Walker, Kurtley Beale and Matt Hodgson are just some of the great Indigenous players who have graced and made their mark on Rugby.

Lloyd McDermott was the pioneer for these talented athletes to follow, being the first Indigenous man to identify as being an Aboriginal in the Wallabies.

Making his debut in 1962 on the wing, McDermott played two Test matches for the Wallabies taking on the All Blacks in Sydney and in Brisbane. Further participation in Tests did not occur for Lloyd as he took the stance to refuse to tour South Africa as an “Honorary White” during the dark days of Apartheid.

Following his Rugby playing days, Lloyd became the first Indigenous Barrister in Australia and built a highly respected career in the courtroom.

Although his playing days for the Wallabies were short lived, McDermott’s passion for combining Rugby and education led to the creation of the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team (LMRDT) or “Lloydies” as they are affectionately known.

The LMRDT’s mission is to use Rugby as a tool to provide opportunities and education to enrich the lives of young Indigenous males and females.

To date, the program has been an overwhelming success.

Since their formation 23 years ago, the Lloydies team have seen thousands of Indigenous kids go through their various programs which has enriched the lives of many. The programs have created opportunities for kids with their elite pathways development to professional Rugby, increased participation in sport by Indigenous children and their strong social and health messages the team passes on. Some of the LMRDT programs have included:

- Ella Sevens tournaments

- Indigenous University Sevens

- National Under 16s sides

- Indigenous Sevens sides

- Brothers in Union Program

- Stronger Sisters

- Rugby tours

Speaking form ARU HQ, Executive Office of the Lloydies, Tom Evans had nothing but high praise for a “living legend” of the game.

“Lloyd McDermott is a highly respected man in the Legal, Rugby and Aboriginal Community.

“Lloyd was able to combine his sporting and education goals to achieve at the highest level on and off the field and it is these attributes that the organization tries to emulate to enrich the lives of our participants.

“Through his vision the Lloydies has been able to make a positive impact on countless kids’ lives and it is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of.”

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is committed to expanding Participation in Indigenous communities and to use Rugby as a positive force to improve lives. Rugby is a game that builds character and is a truly inclusive sport that is suited to all athletes of all sizes and abilities.

Indigenous participation in Rugby continues to grow with four members of the current Qantas Wallabies squad having Indigenous background. In the Qantas Australian Sevens programs Taleena Simon, Tanisha Stanton, and Shannon Walker continue to represent Indigenous Australia.

For the next generation of Olympic stars six Aboriginal girls were selected in the 2014 Women’s Youth Olympics squad – three made it to the final squad to attend the Youth Olympics in China – where the team won Gold!

In 2014 during the ARU’s elite pathways competition, the Junior Gold Cup there was 92 Indigenous players. The competition had 1,200 kids competing nationally, which makes Indigenous participation around 7%, a good base to work from in the future.

In National Reconciliation Week the ARU recognises the many contributions Indigenous Australians have made to Rugby at all levels, as Rugby continues to strive to bring more Indigenous Australians to our game.

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