1 December 1997

One of the University of Queensland's oldest sporting clubs has unveiled an honour board of its 170 'Blues' winners for outstanding achievement in football.

University Secretary and Registrar and University Rugby Football Club patron Douglas Porter this month unveiled the honour board, which includes the names of many of the 52 Wallabies and 160 Queensland players produced by the Club in the past 86 years.

Among former Blues at the unveiling was 85-year-old Jack Evans of Carindale, who was awarded a half Blue in 1936 and a full Blue in 1938.

Mr Evans, who graduated bachelor of engineering (mechanical and electrical) from the University in 1931, subsequently played with the 'Red Heavies' for many years.

A versatile footballer, he normally played centre or five-eighth, but 'if there was a player shortage, old muggins would fill in,' he said.

'The highlight of my football career was playing two matches with the Australian universities rugby team in Japan in 1934 - they won one, and we won one.'

Mr Evans and other early players present at the function including Lawrence Lowth (half Blue 1944), Arch Winning (half Blue 1945) and Ray McNamara (full Blue, 1948) remember the University Rugby Football Club before it moved to its present modern clubhouse at St Lucia.

The modern clubhouse, funded by past and present players, is a far cry from early facilities used in 1911, the year the University opened to students at its George Street, City address.

Rugby was one of its first major sports to be played by the University, along with tennis, cricket, athletics and rowing.

Players were entered in a second grade competition in the Club's first year in 1911, with the team playing on the University's ground called 'The Domain' (on the site of the present City Botanic Gardens). University rugby players changed into their maroon and blue jerseys in a dressing shed which was an old pigeon loft covered with hessian.

However, two years after entering the Queensland rugby union competition, University had produced its first Queensland representative player, Norman A. Lloyd. His name heads the honour board as the first to be awarded a University Blue for football in 1912.

Unfortunately for rugby union in Queenland, the code did not reform after World War 1, and it was not until 1929 that rugby union was again played in the State. During that time all clubs (including University) played rugby league as amateurs in the Brisbane rugby league competition. In that time University won the Brisbane rugby league premiership twice and the club still holds the magnificent Vic Jensen shield for the best rugby league club in Queensland after winning the 1928 and 1929 grand finals.

Despite some approaches from Queensland rugby league, they have no intention of handing it back.

University rejoined the Queensland rugby union and made it a trifecta of premierships by securing the 1930 rugby union premiership.

During the 1920s, University produced one of Australia's greatest players, Tommy Lawton who captained Australia in six tests in the 1920s, captained Oxford rugby and was involved in the notorious Lawton case that enraged the British Rugby public.

Three 'colonials' from the University of Queensland went to Oxford in the 1920s as Rhodes Scholars - Victor Grenning, Tommy Lawton and Fred Paterson. The three players were suspended from the Oxford rugby team when it was revealed they had committed the terrible sin of playing 'Northern Union' or rugby league . The players were acquitted and the team selector who had leaked out the secret because he did not want an Australian as Oxford captain, was sacked.

University Rugby Football Club president Angus Innes said in almost 90 years, the Club had produced many remarkable people, whether they had won Blues or not.

'Some recent famous players include Dr Mark Loane who played 89 games for Queensland, and 28 tests; and Blackhawk helicopter tragedy hero and University science and diploma of education graduate Captain David Burke, who represented Australia in two sports, rugby and sailing.'

Mr Innes said the Club's 600-member Old Boys Foundation - the only such foundation attached to a University sports club - had raised more than $300,000 in the past four or five years because they remembered the Club with such warmth and affection.

Many alumni have donated precious memorabilia such as their original jerseys, blazers and team photographs, to inspire today's crop of 200 players, who based on their overall performance were recently awarded the Doughty shield for the best overall club performance in the A grade Brisbane rugby union competition.

The Club's nine teams include four Colts teams of 19 and 20-year-olds, and the four-year-old women's team.

Women's Rugby team member for four years, and captain for the past three, Leanne Wilkes, a 1994 University arts/law graduate, is one of 10 State representatives in the squad. A further five players are current Australian representatives - Mieke Gladwin, Cathy Boulton, Karen Bucholz, Perise Ili and Emily Stokes. Ms Gladwin was awarded a half Blue last year.

They wear the same maroon jerseys and navy shorts as male players.

'About half the team members are from colleges on campus, others are graduates and friends,' said Ms Wilkes, who is a solicitor with a City law firm.

'The women's game is played strongly and many people are surprised how aggressive it can be.

'I had played touch football at Duchesne College, plus a bit of tennis and hockey before I took up rugby in 1993 and I have enjoyed playing front row ever since.

'Women players tend to have good hand-eye co-ordination.The major difference between the men's and women's games is that women's games feature less kicking, and more running.

'We are attracting a big following from family, friends, and all spectators of skilful rugby.'

For further information, contact Sandy Dunn at the University Rugby Football Club, telephone 3870 2152.