Seven of the most celebrated players in Australian Rugby have been announced as the 2011 ARU Classic Wallabies Statesmen today at the Australian Museum.
One player from each decade since the Second World War has been chosen to serve as a Statesman, making several appearances on behalf of ARU in what is a huge year for Australian Rugby.
Two of the seven are former Test captains and all have played a significant role in the history of the game.
The 2011 ARU Classic Wallabies Statesmen are:
1940’s Eric Tweedale – Prop/Second Row, 10 Tests (1946-1949).
1950’s Terry Curley – Fullback, 11 Tests, (1957-1958).
1960’s Rob Heming – Second Row, 21 Tests (1961-1967).
1970’s Geoff Shaw – Centre, 27 Tests (1969-1979), 9 Tests as captain
1980’s Simon Poidevin – Flanker, 59 Tests (1980-1991), 4 Tests as captain
1990’s Tim Gavin – Number 8, 47 Tests (1988-1996).
2000’s Elton Flatley – Flyhalf/Inside Centre, 34 Tests (1996-2005)
The ARU Classic Wallabies Statesmen program began in 2008 and is an ongoing feature of the Australian Rugby season with a new group announced each year.
The initial Statesmen were – Sir Nicholas Shehadie, Dr John Solomon, Ken Catchpole, Mark Loane, Andrew Slack, Nick Farr-Jones and John Eales.
In 2009, Arthur Buchanan John Thornett, Jim Lenehan, John Hipwell, Mark Ella, Tim Horan and Matthew Burke were named as Statesmen, while last year David Brockhoff, Peter Johnson, John Brass, Greg Cornelsen, Roger Gould, Jason Little and David Wilson were named as ARU Classic Wallabies Statesmen.
ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, said the Statesmen initiative provides an opportunity for Rugby to showcase the games wonderful alumni of former Wallabies.
“This game has been graced by not only great players but truly inspirational figures, and we are recognising their achievements and values through this program,” Mr O’Neill said.
“We must never forget our past and the wonderful men who have contributed so much.
“We want the Rugby culture to remain strong and vibrant, and we want our past heroes as well as our current stars to help us carry those traditions forward.
“Our seven Statesmen will assist in that process thanks to their standing in the game, and the broader community.”
Plans for the Statesmen include pre-Test jersey presentations to Wallaby players, addressing players from club and schoolboys level to the elite tiers of the game, and attending official functions as ARU Classic Wallabies Statesmen.
Mr O’Neill said the Classic Wallabies were keenly supportive of the Statesmen program, giving further significance to the appointments.
“Our Statesmen are touchstones to a wonderful and diverse history,” Mr O’Neill said.
“This is a Rugby nation that has won two World Cups, hosted another, is about to embark on the challenging journey of securing a record third William Webb Ellis cup and all of this is underlined by a compelling Test history that stretches all the way back to 1899.
“So as we continue to build our game and look forward to more success in the future we must never forget our past and we have to embrace our history and the men who helped create it.”
The 2011 ARU Classic Wallabies Statesmen were announced at the Australian Museum in Sydney, which is currently hosting the 50 Years In Gold – Journey of the Wallabies Jersey display as part of the build up to the 2011 Castrol Edge International Tests against Samoa on Sunday 17 July and South Africa on Saturday 23 July.
The display, supported by Qantas and Channel 9’s Today Show, features one of the first Rugby Test Caps from 1899 along-side an array light blue, white, bottle green and bright green jersey’s worn by Australian teams prior to the Wallabies adopting the iconic Gold they are now known for around the world.
The display is in on now and runs until Sunday 24 July in the foyer of the Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney – for more information on the Australian Museum’s opening hours visit www.australianmuseum.net.au.
On Sunday 17 July the display will be moved to ANZ Stadium for the Qantas Wallabies first Castrol Edge Test against Samoa and will return to the Australian Museum on Monday 18 July.