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Rugby Great Dave Brockhoff Dies

A legend of Sydney University Rugby and Sydney University Sport, Dave Brockhoff passed away last week. A Wallaby, a Sydney Uni coach of premiership winning teams in the late 60′s and early 70′s, a Wallabies succesful coach in the 70′s Dave was above all one of the most passionate rugby and Sydney Uni men to ever walk on our playing fields. He was legendary for his visual imagery in pre-game and half time talks. For example he would exhort his loose forwards to get amongst the opposition and ” go crazy, like a madman with a crowbar in a glass shop” . Some of his players occasionaly had trouble following his imagery and allusions but he was always inspiring, smart, passionate and successful and a great mentor to many of his players. “Brock” served as President of Sydney Uni Rugby from 1996-2004.

He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Sydney University in 2006 – his Citation read on that day appears below. David Brockhoff was 83 when he died last week – one of Sydney Uni’s finest – a man who deserves the title ” Legend”


June 2006

Chancellor, I present John David Brockhoff, upon whom the Senate of the University has resolved that you confer the title of Honorary Fellow.

David Brockhoff has made an extraordinary contribution to the University and to Australian rugby over the past 58 years.

In 1947 David entered the University of Sydney enrolling in a Science degree and joining the Football Club, where he played with the First XV for seven years. He played in 95 first-grade games and was a member of two Premiership-winning teams. He was awarded University Blues for Rugby in 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951. He was also a regular selection in the Australian Combined Universities team.

In 1949, while playing in New Zealand for Combined Universities, he was recalled to Australia to play his first match as a Wallaby. Later that year he returned to New Zealand as a member of a very successful Wallaby team that won 11 of its 12 games, twice defeating the All Blacks and winning the Bledisloe Cup for the first time on New Zealand soil. David Brockhoff also toured South Africa, representing Australia in 8 Tests between 1949 and 1953.

In 1967 he was appointed Sydney University’s first-grade coach, a position which he held for eight years during which time his teams won two minor premierships and three major premierships. He was also coach of New South Wales in 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974.

He then moved on to coach the Wallabies in 1975, 1976 and 1979, giving him the rare distinction, shared with only two others, of having both played for and coached the Wallabies. In the nine years immediately prior to Brockhoff’s appointment Australia had won only seven of its last 39 Tests. In his first year as national coach the Wallabies won nine of twelve Tests, including defeating England to win the first home series in ten years.

When he returned to the national coaching position in 1979 the Wallabies beat the All Blacks in a one-off Test for the Bledisloe Cup, the first time Australia had held the Cup since Brockhoff had played for it thirty years earlier. It was also Australia’s first defeat of New Zealand in Australia since 1934.

As a player David Brockhoff had been described as “a footballer of tremendous courage and power, never prepared to take a backward step, a vigorous tackler and non-stop worker.” These same qualities were what he looked for and expected when he was coaching. His coaching philosophy was based on winning forward supremacy and domination. Although his methods were controversial, his successes laid the foundation for Australia’s emergence as a major force in world rugby.

David Brockhoff is renowned in Australian rugby for his unique verbal imagery and his cryptic, even Delphic, utterances. A common observation by his players at both club and international level is that they never fully understood his legendary pre-game addresses, yet he could inspire passion and commitment like few other coaches.

After leaving international rugby David Brockhoff devoted his energies to Sydney University rugby, his beloved “Students.” He remained a dominant influence on the Club’s coaching and playing style for many years. After long service as a Vice-President he assumed the President’s role in 1995. He then served as Chairman of the Club from 1996 to 2004.

David Brockhoff has been honoured for his services to rugby at representative levels. The Coach of the Year award in the Sydney Premiership Competition is named after him. In 2003 he was presented with the Joe French Award in recognition of his outstanding service to Australian rugby and in 2004 was made a Life Member of the Australian Rugby Union.

David Brockhoff has given great and ongoing service to the University of Sydney throughout the second half of the Twentieth Century through his involvement with the Sydney University Football Club and at the highest levels of Australian rugby.

John David Brockhoff, the University of Sydney salutes you, and for your great and ongoing service confers on you the title, Honorary Fellow of the University



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