Wallaby legend Sir Nicholas Shehadie dead, aged 91

by Sam Phillips

Former Wallabies captain Sir Nicholas Shehadie has died, aged 91.

Shehadie, one of only two Wallabies to ever be knighted, passed away in hospital late on Sunday night.

A state funeral will be held for Sir Shehadie on Wednesday February 21, at 9:45am for a 10am start at St James's Church, King St, Sydney.

Born in Coogee and raised in Redfern, the Wallabies great played 30 Tests for Australia between 1947 and 1958 - a record at the time - with three of those coming as captain of the side, as well.

Shehadie's post-football career was just as formidable, commencing a career in public office in 1962 when he stood as an alderman for the council elections of the City of Sydney.

After serving a second term and a third term as the Deputy Lord Mayor, Shehadie was elected as Lord Mayor in 1973 and was in office for the official opening of the Sydney Opera House by Queen Elizabeth II.

Shehadie also served as a Trustee of the Sydney Cricket Ground from 1978-2001 and was chairman from 1990-2001.

During his time as a Trustee Shehadie was also playing his hand as a rugby administrator, elected chairman of the NSWRU in 1979 and president of the ARU in 1980, a position he held until 1987.Phil Waugh, Sir Nicholas Shehadie and Stirling Mortlock smile for the camera. Photo: Getty ImagesIn October of 2011, Shehadie was inducted into the IRB hall of fame in recognition of his services to rugby and the role he played in establishing the World Cup.

Broadcaster Alan Jones passed on his condolences on his radio show this morning.

“(He was) a wonderful, wonderful Australian ... a beautiful man,” Jones said.

“Our thoughts are very much with Marie and the family, (they are) lovely people.”

Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne also paid tribute.

"Not only have we lost one of our great Wallaby Captains, we have lost a truly great Australian. His was an extraordinary life," Clyne said.

"Sir Nicholas is one of the most revered figures in our game across the globe. He was a born leader, a gifted athlete, and an outstanding administrator who was instrumental in shaping the game both nationally and internationally through his various roles in rugby.

"As joint Chairman on the inaugural Rugby World Cup committee, his leadership and drive were pivotal in establishing what is now the third largest sporting event in the world. This is a legacy that will live forever in our game."

Shehadie was married to Dame Marie Bashir, governor of NSW from 2001 to 2014 and is also survived by three children and six grandchildren.