Australian Rugby Union is today mourning the loss of tri-international Dick Thornett, who passed away on Wednesday morning.
One of three brothers, Dick first sprung onto the international sporting scene in 1960 with the Australian Olympic water polo team, before switching to Rugby in 1961 where his rapid rise through club, state and into the national team was as fast as they come.
After impressing with Randwick he was given a start with NSW and after a strong showing against Fiji joined his brother John in the Test pack for the three Test series against the Pacific Island nation.
His debut against Fiji in 1961 was the start of his career with the Wallabies, which lasted until the end of the 1963 season when he decided to switch codes and excel at rugby league.
In a career that included 11 consecutive Tests and 11 tour matches, Thornett was never dropped from a Wallabies side and is considered to be one of the most extravagantly gifted sportsmen Australia has produced in the last 50 years.
ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, said Thornett would always be remembered for his deeds in both Rugby codes.
“There could be no greater tribute to a Rugby forward than to have former All Blacks great Colin Meads describe you as one of the finest second rowers he ever opposed,” Mr O’Neill said.
“Dick Thornett was paid that honour after playing against Meads in 1962.
“Dick Thornett played his 11 Tests across only a short period of time but his impact was enormous. He was a ferocious ball runner and at more than 100kg was a prototype for the modern day forward.
“The Thornett family has given wonderful service to Australian sport. John is a Wallabies legend who captained Australia for many years. Ken never played for the Wallabies but was one of rugby league’s great fullbacks.
“Dick played Tests with them both, across two codes. He was a uniquely talented sportsman and a proud Wallaby. He will be missed.”
Richard Norman Thornett
Date of Birth:
Randwick Boys HS, Sydney
6 (2 tries)
NSW 4 (1961)
1961 SA, 1962 NZ