IRB Hall of Fame
Australia greats Ken Catchpole and John Thornett have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, becoming the 69th and 70th individuals to be added to this prestigious group.
At a special presentation ahead of the Australia v France match in Sydney on Saturday, Catchpole and Thornett’s coveted caps and pins were presented by IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
One of Australia’s legendary scrum-halves, Catchpole, who celebrated his 75th birthday on the day of the presentation, played international Rugby from 1961 until 1968, during which time he won 27 caps, 13 as captain.
Known as ‘Catchy’, his partnership with fly-half Phil Hawthorne became world-famous as the two were the hinge of the successful Wallaby touring side of 1966/67, playing a brand of attacking Rugby which has rarely been emulated since.
Honoured to be included
Since retirement, he has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and was one of the five original inductees to the Wallaby Hall of Fame.
Catchpole said: “I am honoured to be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame. I played Rugby for the enjoyment of the Game and was lucky enough to be selected as a Wallaby. I could not have achieved such success without the help of talented team-mates. In Australia, we now have some superb up-and-coming players who may well have the privilege of being future inductees.”
A versatile and durable player of immense ability, Thornett (79) played flanker, number eight, second row and prop in an international career that spanned from 1955 until 1967. Indeed, such was his all-round athleticism, he had started his first-grade club career with Sydney University as a centre.
In 1962, he was appointed Wallaby captain for the New Zealand tour of that year and he led his country in 16 of his 37 Tests. It was under his captaincy that Australia became the first nation in 67 years to defeat South Africa in consecutive Tests during the 1963 drawn series.
In 1965, he led Australia to a magnificent 2-0 win over the visiting Springboks and played against the British and Irish Lions in 1959 and again in 1966. Thornett was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Wallaby Hall of Fame in 2007.
Rugby formed me
Thornett said: “I am delighted to receive such an honour. I thought my days of being involved in Rugby were well over so to be inducted into the IRB is very special. And to be there for the presentation with my great friend and former team-mate, Catchy, on the same day really rolls back the years.
“Rugby formed me and the life I have led since retiring from the game was a reflection of the good things that Rugby can give you – a desire to work hard, camaraderie and the strength of a good team.”
Catchpole was present to receive this honour but Thornett was unable to attend the ceremony and his cap and pin were accepted by his wife, Viv.
Each year, the IRB Hall of Fame honours some of the greatest ever players to have graced the Rugby field as well as recognising those who have tirelessly contributed to growing the game over their lifetime.
Last year, the IRB inducted 11 greats into the Hall of Fame who have demonstrated extraordinary levels of character, talent and ability, individuals who were pioneers of their time.
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