World Cup driver Sir Nick Shehadie dies

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     13 Feb 2018     Getty Images

A product of the Randwick Rugby Club he was the first Lebanese Australian to play rugby for his country. He played 30 Tests for Australia, his first Test at lock but later as a prop, but in days of longer tours he amassed 114 appearances between 1947 and 1958. He captained the Test side three times and was the first Wallaby to make two tours to Britain.


In 1957 he was the first touring player to be asked to play for the Barbarians against his own team, something Ian Clarke repeated for the All Blacks in 1963-64.

A successful businessman he became a Sydney alderman in 1962 and in 1973 he was elected Lord Mayor of Sydney, serving one term in the role. He was chair of SBS Television in Australia and chair of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust. His wife, Lady Marie served as New South Wales Governor.

He shared with Sir Weary Dunlop the distinction of being the only two Wallabies to be knighted.

Shehadie always maintained his connection with rugby and in 1980 he became president of the Australian Rugby Union, a position he held until 1987.

It was Shehadie, and New Zealand Rugby Union councillor Dick Littlejohn, who led the push for the creation of the Rugby World Cup. The pair toured the world famously having to convince the powers that be in Britain that the tournament was worth having.

He was joint-chair of the inaugural event which proved such a success that it never looked back and was embraced by the British who held the second event in 1991.

The story is famously told that the treasurer of the Scotland Rugby Union, Gordon Masson told Shehadie that rugby was their game and they didn't need a World Cup. A World Cup would have to occur over his dead body, he said.

During the 1991 event when Masson was entertaining royalty he was allegedly pinched by Shehadie, and when Masson asked what he was doing, Shehadie replied: "I'm just seeing if you're alive."

Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones said Shehadie was a "multi-dimensional success story, a giant of a man in every way."