Australian Rugby mourne passing of classic Wallaby and Rugby administrator Ross Turnbull

by Staff Writer

Australian Rugby has joined together in mourning Wallaby number 523, Ross Turnbull who passed away on Saturday 7 March, after a long battle with cancer at the age of 74.

Turnbull was a key contributor towards the direction of the sport during the period of Rugby’s conversion from amateurism to professionalism.

ARU President, David Crombie President passed on Australian Rugby’s condolences.

“The entire Rugby community is mourning Ross’ passing and our thoughts are with the Turnbull family at this difficult time.”

“Ross was always passionate about everything he did, whether it was his sport or business interests.

“He had a great spirit for Rugby as a player and administrator, and was one of the youngest Managers to ever tour with the Wallabies.”

Former Wallabies captain and ARU Classic Wallabies Manager, Geoff Shaw paid tribute to Ross’s life.

“Ross was a great servant to Rugby and was passionate about our sport’s success and player welfare.

“He played for the Wallabies, served as team manager and was instrumental in ensuring Rugby’s survival during a perilous financial period for the game.”

Playing one Test for the Wallabies in 1968, Ross played Ireland at Lansdowne Road and represented Australia country in two non-Test cap matches.

In the mid-1970s, Ross Turnbull became one of the youngest Wallaby Managers and in 1976 he was appointed Treasurer of the NSW Rugby Union, a position he held until 1984 when he was made Chairman.

In the same year, Turnbull joined the ARU Executive committee and was instrumental in working with the then ARU President, Bill McLaughlin and the New Zealand Rugby Union to seek their support for annual Test Matches to financially support the ARU.

The successful venture secured Rugby’s finances and the result of which created the consistent Bledisloe Cup fixtures; a key event on Australia’s sporting calendar.

In 1984 Turnbull was elected Chairman of the NSW Rugby Union and also as one of Australia’s two delegates to the International Rugby Board, a position he held until 1989.

Turnbull chaired the IRB’s Amateurism Committee from 1987-1988 and was elected Deputy Chairman of the ARU from 1984 to 1989.

Such was Ross’ passion for Rugby to become a professional sport he became a Director of the rival World Rugby Corporation (WRC).

Although the bid from WRC was unsuccessful, it contributed to Rugby moving towards professionalism.

Ross Turnbull is survived by his two sons and two daughters.

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