Australian Rugby Union will today farewell two of the game’s greats as 1949 team mates David Brockhoff and Rex Mossop are remembered at two separate services in Sydney.
The pair, who passed away within a day of each other last weekend, were members of the famous 1949 Wallabies side that defeated the All Blacks in a series on home soil for the first time in history to claim the Bledisloe Cup.
ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, paid tribute to Australian Rugby Statesman, David Brockhoff, ahead of a memorial service for the former Wallabies player and coach.
“Brock will always be remembered as one of the most endearing figures this game has produced,” Mr O’Neill said.
“His passion for Rugby was a flame that never flickered. It burned as brightly in his later years as it did when making his Test debut more than 60 years ago, or when leading the Wallabies on a famous victory lap of the SCG in 1979 after coaching them to our first Bledisloe Cup success in 30 years.
“Everyone associated with the game will never forget his commitment to the Wallabies. How he would be there at the airport to farewell them whenever they travelled overseas, and how he would be there again at whatever hour to welcome them home when they returned to Australia.
“The personal memory that stays with me is the morning after I was first appointed as ARU Managing Director and CEO in 1995. The phone kept ringing with congratulatory calls; and I was on one such call when the fax machine next to me sprang to life.
“The message read simply: ‘Johnny boy, it’s me, Brock! Hang up. I must speak to you’.
“Brock will be sadly missed.”
Mr O’Neill also paid tribute to Brockhoff’s team mate, dual international and media commentator, Rex Mossop.
“Mr Mossop was a larger than life character who contributed much to the Australian sporting landscape over the five decades he was involved in playing and commentating the game,” Mr O’Neill said.
“He was an uncompromising player whose hunger to succeed on the field transferred off the field to a successful and colourful media career.
“Both Rugby Union and Rugby League communities stand as one today to remember a true champion of our two codes.
“On behalf on the Australian Rugby Union community I extended our deepest sympathies to the Brockhoff and Mossop families for their loss.”
Former Wallaby captain and 1949 team mate of Brockhoff and Mossop, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, remembered the two outstanding sportsmen and close friends.
“I was very fortunate to have toured with both David and Rex to New Zealand in 1949, when we won the Bledisloe Cup on NZ soil for the first time,” Sir Shehadie said.
“David was a great ambassador for Rugby and Rex was a talented sportsman.
“I was very privileged to have established a close friendship with both David and Rex and their families and they’ll be very sorely missed.
“They were great Australian’s who contributed a great deal to Australian Sport over a long period of time.”
Former Wallaby captain, Geoff Shaw, also paid tribute to Mr Brockhoff.
“At the passing of such a dear friend the experiences of my friendship with Brock over 40 years keep running into my head,” Mr Shaw said.
“The significant theme that continually surfaces is that there was so much fun and laughter and sheer joy at the way he worked and the enthusiasm he generated was always uplifting.
“He was a great mentor to me in my early days and he had a special place in his heart for the ‘boys from the bush’ and we were always welcome at his home whenever we were in town.
“The certain thing is that there will never be another Brock. He was unique. The changed priorities and pragmatic professionalism of the modern era will not now produce such people.
"For all of us, John David Brockhoff's enduring quality was a deep and enthusiastic love for the game and its people.”
In paying tribute to Brockhoff’s team mate, Mr Shaw said he had always admired Mr Mossop’s unique status of being a dual international player.
“It was an incredible achievement I think, which reflected the character of the man,” Mr Shaw said.
“From my recollections growing up as a young aspiring sportsman and watching him play from afar I admired his incredibly tough and talented ability on the field.
“For some 35 years on TV, I like many Australians recall his forthright, colourful and often controversial views and he was larger than life.”
Classic Wallabies Co-President and 1991 Rugby World Cup winner, Simon Poidevin, remembered the two 1949 Wallabies.
“Australian Rugby has lost two of its most enduring and inspirational sons in David Brockoff and Rex Mossop,” Mr Poidevin said.
“The two tough and dynamic forwards were both members of the famous 1949 team that won our first ever Bledisloe Cup series in New Zealand, a feat only equalled by the 1986 Wallabies.
“’Brock’ was stitched into the fabric of Rugby in Australia, dedicating his life to the game as a player, coach, mentor and passionate supporter.
“His style, wisdom, passion and knowledge welded him to an army of Rugby friends who will miss him dearly.
“Brock is a true legend of the game.
“Similarly Rex Mossop left a huge mark on Australian Rugby, Rugby League and Sports Broadcasting in this country.
Despite his success in Rugby League, Rex never forgot his time playing for Manly, the Waratahs and the Wallabies.
“A strong, athletic second-rower, Rex Mossop grabbed his opportunities in life and left nothing in the tank.”
Dual international and sports commentator, Rex Mossop, will be remembered at St Matthew’s Anglican Church, 1 Darley Road, Manly at 1:30pm.
David Brockhoff, Wallabies Statesman and life member of the Australian Rugby Union, will be farewelled at St Andrew’s College, Sydney University at 3pm.