John Thornett: Remembered as the gentleman of rugby

My original story was first published at: Sydney Cricket Ground Trust

John Thornett, he man donned not only a ”gentleman, but a gentle human,” by , long-time friend. Was remembered and celebrated in the Sydney Cricket Ground’s Noble Dining Room, on Thursday Morning, during a public obituary.

 

History books tell an amazing story, but Thornett will be remembered for more than his 118 appearances in the Wallabies jersey. His influence on the game has been likened to Don Bradman in cricket or Herb Elliot in Athletics. Thornett was arguably the greatest captain Australian rugby, has ever seen.

Thornett was educated at Sydney Boys High and excelled in rugby, swimming and rowing. He won premierships as a captain for Sydney University and Northern Suburbs before debuting for both NSW and Australia in 1955.

The eldest of three brothers, who each carved out decorated international sporting careers, Thornett played 37 tests and toured eight times with the Wallabies, captaining the side on four of those tours. He led the Wallabies to their first major Test series win in 16 years as they defeated South Africa at home in 1965.

During his 13-year international career, Thornett played in four different positions, something that would certainly not occur in the modern game. He represented the Wallabies as flanker, lock, and both tighthead and loosehead prop.

Wallabies legend Simon Poidevin said of Thornett: “He was a beautiful man and a true gentleman who excelled in multiple sports and was a proud and successful captain of the Wallabies”.

His retirement from international rugby, came following the 1966–67 tour of the British Isles and France, his eighth tour with the Wallabies. He then continued to play for Northern Suburbs in the Sydney grade competition where he amassed 126 matches, additionally leading the club to five grand finals.

Following his retirement, Thornett wrote a book titled ‘’This World of Rugby’’, and was appointed to the first national coaching panel, which was a system that underpinned Australian success for decades to come.

Rugby Australia chief executive officer, Raelene Castle paid tribute on behalf of the game’s governing body.

“Australian rugby has lost not only one of its greatest Wallabies, but one of its finest leaders,” Castle said.

‘’John Thornett played rugby for the love of the game and at all times treasured its values of mateship and sportsmanship. There was nothing he would not do for the game and his team, which is why his name is synonymous with Australian pride and great leadership.

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper also said that the contribution Thornett made to the sport, has remained an example for players today.

“When I sit down and chat with former Wallabies about their time in the gold jersey, they all speak glowingly of John and are in awe of how he played on the field and how he represented himself and Australia,” Hooper said.
The SCG would like to thank everyone who joined us in celebrating John Thornett’s life on Thursday.

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Pink day a roaring success

My original story was first published at: Sydney Cricket Ground Trust

The McGrath Foundation raced towards their fundraising target of $2.1 million on day three of the Test, which would support up to 15 breast care nurses across Australia.

Glenn McGrath reflected on the success of his late wife’s legacy: “To think what’s been created over the last 11 Tests, is absolutely incredible. We couldn’t have done that without the support of Cricket Australia and the SCG Trust. Never did I think in a million years that it would have been so successful, and it continues to grow each year.”

It was another eventful day off the field with fans, staff, media and the NSW Police Force sporting pink to support breast cancer awareness and nurses. This year’s success was further demonstrated as both cricket teams have got behind the foundation.

Indian Cricket captain Virat Kohli donned the pitch with pink on his gloves and his pads as well as the McGrath Foundation symbol itself. McGrath said:  ”It’s very humbling. It just builds how everyone feels about the foundation and how they feel about this day. Eleven years since our first pink Test, it’s getting bigger and better every year. I have to pinch myself that I played for Australia so I’m certainly pinching myself now. The only difference from where I retired to where I am now half my wardrobe is pink.”

The who’s who of the SCG attended the McGrath High Tea as part of yesterday’s festivities, in the Entertainment Quarter. Attendees included Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, SCG CEO Kerrie Mather as well as the partners of the Australian cricket team.

CEO of the SCG, Kerrie Mather, was delighted to be a part of supporting the foundation. She reflected on the beginnings of the partnership and when pink day first began: ”It started as what was ladies day back in 2006, where we used to celebrate that in the members reserve. The cricket community got together around the McGrath family. The SCG decided to turn what was ‘’ladies day’, into ‘’Pink day’’ with our members. Cricket Australia then took the idea to the broader community and there’s been no turning back since. It’s been a fabulous initiative.

To support the worthy cause, see one of the McGrath volunteers walking around the ground during the remainder of the Test, or head to the website: Pink Test.

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SCG CEO, Venues NSW Chairwoman, colleagues and myself pictured above at the Jane McGrath Day High Tea.

 

 

 

SCG: Rich in Member History

My original story was first published at: Sydney Cricket Ground Trust

Chairman Tony Shepherd AO welcomed new members into the 50 and 70-year club in the MA Noble Dining Room of the SCG on Monday morning. The high tea event was a celebration of the SCG’s long-standing members and their remarkable contribution to the history of the ground.

 

The honoured members’ involvement with the SCG predates current sporting stars who tread the grass today. It predates every building on Trust lands except the Members and Ladies pavilions.

This morning was also a time to reflect on some of the rich history, shared from the memories of our members which include; sitting on the roof of the old Bob Stand, competing in athletics and rugby and even batting against Richie Benaud. Then there were those who had the pleasure of being an acquaintance of Sir Don Bradman or those who have historical family ties to the formation of the SCG in the 1800s. It’s safe to say, the members of the SCG all have a unique story to tell.

Stephanie Brantz interviewed fellow Trustee and Australian cricketer Stuart MacGill, who shared some of his own memories from his time playing on the hallowed turf. Grounds Manager Justin Groves also gave members an insight into how his team are preparing for the New Year’s Test and a busy 2019 as the SCG prepares to welcome a number of football matches back to the ground.

After the morning tea, members were invited onto the ground during the Sheffield Shield break to have their photo taken with the Chairman and the old SCG roller.

We look forward to welcoming our 50 and 70-year members back to the SCG this summer.

 

IAAF to honour Australia’s Golden Girl with plaque

My original was first published at: Sydney Cricket Ground Trust

Australia’s golden girl, the late Betty Cuthbert will be one of twelve track and field legends to be honoured as part of the newly created IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque program.

Her plaque will be erected in the historic Sydney Cricket Ground precinct where she set six of her eight world records.

The announcement was made at an IAAF Heritage Legends Reception in Monaco this week.

IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe said, “The IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque is a location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together iconic and historic athletics competitions, careers, performances, cities, venues, landmarks and culture around the world.”

A uniquely designed plaque will be permanently and publicly displayed at a location closely associated with each recipient.

Coe continued: “On the same principle that London’s world-famous blue plaque scheme celebrates notable people who have lived and worked in the British capital, the IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque sets out to recognise an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of athletics.”

Chairman of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust, Mr Tony Shepherd was delighted that Ms Cuthbert would be recognised at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

“The SCG Trust is delighted that the IAAF has selected the Sydney Cricket Ground as the location for Betty Cuthbert’s IAAF World Athletics Heritage plaque. Betty set six of her eight world records at the former Sydney Sports Ground within the Sydney Cricket Ground precinct, and became the darling in Australian sport.”

“Like the IAAF, the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust maintains a strong commitment to its history.

“The SCG Trust invited Lord Sebastian Coe to unveil bronze sculptures of Betty Cuthbert and fellow Australian athletic champion Marlene Mathews earlier this year.”

Lord Sebastian Coe said that Cuthbert (and Mathews) had left an incredible legacy across the entire sport of athletics.

Betty Cuthbert represented Australia at three Olympic Games and two British Empire Games. She remains the only athlete to win the women’s 100 metres, 200 metres, and 400 metres at the Olympic Games.

Betty Cuthbert was remembered with a moving moment silence in an emotional tribute during the 2018 IAAF World Championships in London.

Her plaque will be erected at the Sydney Cricket Ground precinct with a formal unveiling to be confirmed.

 

Trio of SCC Women, help win T20 World Cup Trophy

My original was first published at: Sydney Cricket Ground Trust

The now, fourth-time World T20 Trophy winning Women’s Australian Team, have defeated England by eight wickets in Antigua on Sunday 25th. Three Sydney Cricket Club Tiger’s players Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry and Rachael Haynes had a very successful tournament. This underlined the team’s status as one of the world sport’s most dominant outfits, in securing the World T20 trophy for Australia.

In 2009, The Southern Stars lost out to England in the semi-finals of the inaugural competition. They however have claimed the title in 2010, 2012, 2014 with only one upset loss to the West Indies in the 2016. And now have the 2018 title to add to their collection.

Australia produced their best performance of the in Antigua, to bowl out England for a total of 105 from 19.4 overs with Perry claiming 1-23. The run-chase was never in doubt following contributions from Healy (22), Ash Gardner (33*) and skipper Meg Lanning (28*) achieving the total in 15.1 overs.

Australian and Tigers wicket keeper Alyssa Healy was deserving named Player of the Tournament after top-scoring with 225 runs at an average of 56.25. Despite her concussion against India, this did not interrupt her game as she led from the front at the top of the order as well as capturing 8 dismissals throughout the entire tournament.

Ellyse Perry and Rachael Haynes also both had a stellar tournament. They produced strong performances throughout the fixtures. Perry first led the bowlers taking 9 wickets across the 5 innings with none more important than Dottin in the semi-final and form English batsmen Natalie Sciver. Rachael Haynes was consistently playing at her best in the middle, returning 4 not outs in her total of 5 innings. Haynes played a variety of roles, including successfully scoring quick late order runs or guiding Australia over the line in crucial periods.

On behalf of the The Trust we send our congratulations to the players for a very successful tournament for Australia and our Tigers.

 

Women Who Werk

Feminist: noun.

‘’The doctrine of advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men.’’

I started playing on a ‘mixed football team’ at the age of 5. I was the only girl on the whole team. For 5 Years straight.

I was an athletic girl. Fast. Fearless. Not to toot my own horn, an asset to the team.

But the boys didn’t pass the ball to me often, simply because I was a girl.

This is where it stated.

Meaningless inequality because of my gender.

This progressed to mixed cross country races later in school, where I was deemed a ‘cheater’ because I simply crossed the finish line before all of the boys.

Later in high school, when you’d expect everyone to be a little wiser. A little more mature.

I fortunately took my gift of athleticism and worked hard. Was a national level athlete at this point. And with achievement comes some limelight (to my dismay).

The lime light I received to celebrate my achievements was far too emasculating to some close- minded individuals.

.

The boys ALWAYS to run before the girls. Track and field. Cross county. Even swimming.

As their participation was reduced to a walk. And I was fortunately the first of the girls races, to catch the boys who started before us.

A group of ‘footy boys’ from my grade decided to make a human wall, during this race. So when I approached them I simply

Could not get past, unless I wanted to run in the gutter full of water around them.

When approaching I politely asked them to move. But no cigar.

I had to physically push past these larger boys, injuring myself in the process & affecting my mental state half way through my 4km race – in order for my race not to be completely obstructed and my race performance to be dismantled.

This didn’t end there, sadly. But I’m not one to sit back and let someone, let alone a whole group make me feel inferior when I haven’t done anything wrong.

I continued to be bullied by boys.

Because I was simply taller than them. Because of my athleticism.

Because I was loud, enthusiastic, didn’t follow the crowd. (and was little bit crazy!)

Because of my diligence to school work.

Because I had dreams.

Because I did not take them stealing my lunch box, as a sign of ‘flirting.’ I did not accept the teacher’s view that ‘they only

Annoy you and call you names because they like you!’

No, that was not, nor will ever be acceptable. That is an excuse for their behaviour. Which was deemed to be ‘okay’ and had no punishment for making me feel inferior or harassed.

It’s not ‘’boys will be boys, Lani.’ This behaviour simply not okay. And allows those boys to think they can treat women like that, later in life.

I have been 6’1’’ since I was about 16.

But I take the gift of height as a privilege.

And feel sad for those boys. that chose to be intimidate by something I simply can’t help. Genetics.

Or something that doesn’t in any way concern them like the way I live my life, or my Athletic achievements. (Until the day that boys start competing against girls).

This misogynistic philosophy It may stem back to stories like mine.

The things little boys, are lead to believe while they’re growing up, deciding what kind of person they’re going to be…is okay.

Let’s make sure it ends here.

Childhood.

Real men teach their children not to discriminate based on gender or even race for that matter. Based on appearance, ability or behaviour.

My philosophy is a person should only be judged, simply how they move through the world and how they treat others.

These experiences, although not completely terrible. Weren’t nice.

But they made me the person and the athlete I am today.

It taught me not to be complacent with someone’s preconvinced perception of you, your ability or what kind of person you are for that matter; on first glance.

And it additionally assisted with encouraging a strong intrinsic mental drive from a young age. Which eventually assisted with being able to win a gold (X 2) medal for my country.

I describe myself as a Feminist for this reason.

Not because I believe in a notion of men-hating, oppressed, hard-down-by righteous females who don’t like sticking to rules; like so many people are wrongly educated to think being a Feminist entails.

I am a Feminist because I am a fighter.

A fighter for simple equality – equal opportunity, rights, wages, treatment, attitudes and parody amongst genders.

Equality in the mentality that women are equal to men. In their value, their place in the world, the workplace, politics, rights in history and in future history.

In that women are capable, forceful, fierce human beings.

And I will not let anyone underestimate me because of my gender.

This open style of Feministic mindset is important to explore, in a world where in some cultures, it’s traditional to ask your husband for permission to simply purchase yourself a gym membership. Where men are culturally expected to dictate their wive’s every decision.

Where women aren’t allowed to drive an automobile, let alone be independent in their own decision making.

I encourage you to teach your Son’s when they begin football training, or are on a mixed-gender class.

Your husbands in a work environment where their superior may be a female.

Your male mates, who feel intimidated by a powerful woman.

Encourage equal thinking. Eliminate this superiority complex based on someone’s thought process, hundreds of years ago.

Please. Make up your own damn mind!

An Athlete State of Mind.

Athlete. Sportsperson. Active minded individual.

Elite. Grass roots. Beginner. It all counts. They are the special breads of humans, in my opinion. How do I know this? Because fortunately been surrounded by them for twenty years of my life. And have earned the honour of representing my country, in turn calling myself one of the above.

I am grateful sport chose me early on. I experienced the joy of playing multiple disciplines, for many years, multiple teams. Teaching me multiple life lessons, early on. For my parents, who drive me to countless practices, countless venues country-wide and multiple amounts of money, on supporting all of this. Supporting My Dream.

I’ve experienced some incredible, unforgettable highs From This sport. From the track. Moments you’d always dreamt of. Movie-moments.

Where it’s not necessarily the medal around your neck. But it’s the atmosphere. Its the feeling of pushing your body, to move the fastest it’s ever been, with every contraction. The ‘YES.’ Moments. Where every training session is being put to use, just to run that self satisfying 0.04 seconds faster your body has moved, than ever before. It’s the crowd’s roar.

Its the lights. It’s the architecture of the stadium. It’s the people volunteering their time to put on a race for you. The way a competitor quickly becomes a mate once the race is done. In the camaraderie of the hand- shake, post race. Picking one another rod the track with a pat on the back. Where you’re out of breath but you always, without fail, acknowledge your opponents that competed against you.

You thank the officials recording the event. And you quietly thank God. It’s the people you encounter, that you’ve never met, but they quietly acknowledge you. Your performance out there, with a simple nod or passing smile.

It’s the honour of the colours you’re wearing. Whether it be Club, state or national. It’s patriotism. Making someone out there proud. Making you proud.

It’s that feeling. I can’t put a finger on it…It’s the moments when you proved to yourself you could and you never stopped. Overcoming mental, physical and emotional hurdles in the process. The lost-for-words moments, when it all went your way. You simply can’t describe it. But you smile. Inside out. Grateful for the journey. Grateful for the people around you. The feeling of adrenaline, mixed with pure joy, mixed triumph and a whole lot of serotonin. The feeling that helped you fall in love with the sport. Just pure happy. The I’m ‘how bloody good is running,’ feeling.

I’ve also experienced the Lows. The moments when you didn’t think you could make it to the line. The moments when your body gave up on itself, before you got to be line. The moments of self doubt in pre-race nerves. The moment of pain, more than any physical injury pain. But pain in being told you’re not allowed to compete, due to injury. When you’d worked so hard to prove to yourself you could; your body simply said ‘no.’

The sacrifices. The people that just don’t get it and blame you, because they don’t understand your passion. They don’t understand your why Your way of life. That this isn’t a choice anymore – it’s a compulsion. The moments of ‘is it all really worth it?…’

But they’re all part of it. Positive and negative. The good comes with the bad. It allows you to work harder, for that brief little high. And it allows you to well and truly earn it!

The bouncing back part. The part that teaches resilience that cannot be taught in an office. Can only be taught on that ‘Oval Office,’ the track. The field. The pitch. The court.

I owe a lot to Sport. It has shaped the person who I am today. Introduced me to a whole new world, to some incredible people who have become family. Kept my physical body just as healthy as my emotional and physical body. It’s been an outlet that saved me from myself, in dark times. It’s given me goals, dreams behind my wildest imagination. And some of the happiest days of my memories.

There’s nothing like proving to yourself, that you are good enough. Exceed your own expectations, but adhering to the journey that you ultimately planned for yourself, for daring to dream in the first place.

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to some incredible places, met some beautiful faces. And learned wherever there’s a track – there’s home, to me.

From The harsh winters of USA, Canada and England. To the overbearing humidity of training in Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, The Cook Islands and behind; I’ve found my peace on that track. I it’s a place of ‘me’ time, my outlet. And a place I decide my future.

Most recently I was training in the United Kingdom for a period of about four weeks. It was winter there, when I didn’t have my coach. I didn’t have my squad bantering with me. Just myself, 3 degree icy winds, about seven layers of clothing, and an orange tartan stadium, layed before me. The same surface, as back home. But with a whole new set of obstacles and metaphorical hurdles.

Lungs tight, breathing painful. Hands frozen without gloves. Questioning one’s own sanity, rep after rep. And legs on fire! But this was part of it all. No excuses. I choose this, willingly. And continue to, no mater the country, no matter the conditions.

I decided a long time ago, my destiny. That I would prove to myself that I want to take myself to as far as I can physically go with this sport. I want to be an Olympian.

And it’s been eighteen bloody years, but I certainly haven’t given up yet! As a seven year old, watching our local legend. The phenomenal Cathy Freeman compete for our country. She not only competed, but she won the 400m, at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Witnessing that moment, is where it all started. The Passion, if you will.

I said to my little self, watching in awe. Eyes glued to that television screen. Her body in moving so swiftly. Her pain in her face, in digging deeper than ever before. Her humility in her triumph and success. I wanted that. I said there and then, I am going to do that with my life one day. And I will.

And of course it hasn’t been smooth sailing. I’ve had multiple injury, illness and misfortune. They’ve been multiple coaches, politics, those ups and downs. But it’s all been worth it. It’s part of the Journey To The Dream, as I’ve always called it.

I certainly haven’t been able to keep going this far, alone. I’ve had the most phenomenal team behind me. My family, supporting each and every one of my crazy dreams. In driving me and flying me around the country and in turn the world – to support my dreams. Financially supporting me, emotionally supporting me. And physically being there to support me, whenever they can. And never saying, never to my next step.

My partner, in all his support. His unconditional support, in every definition. Not only being there, cheering louder than any voice in the stadium and being proud of it. Mentally challenging me to push myself, past all my fears. Beyond my dreams. And never doubting me, my decisions or my big dreams. Not even for a second.

My friends in understanding why I have to miss that party, again. Can’t see them on competition weekends, or miss birthdays and anniversaries due to training.

And my coaches. These special people that see more potential in me than I see in myself and continue to push me, beyond my limitations. And all the glorious, countless, beautiful people. The behind the scenes people. The acquaintances, the family friends. But also the therapists, the doctors, the supporters and people that have invested in me, that believe in This Journey.

The track continues to, and will always be my light. I haven’t given up on that goal, since. Although it may have changed slightly. I am more determined. More willing. More hungry for my goal.

Because I chose to go to that level. The ‘one percenters,’ the extras. The above and beyond. Because that’s what all adds up. It’s going to that that all and much much more! The sessions that don’t make sense, everything hurts, your mind is fighting your body – but you do it anyway, because it brings you one step closer. One step ahead of the game.

I have a goal, not dream. Because a goal without a vision is a dream.

Never give in to expeditions set by someone else for your future. You are your own guiding light.

Chose to go to your level for your goal. And keep going; For your seven year old self.