The world of Rugby League.

Dragons legend Ian Walsh dies



Australian rugby league legend Ian Walsh has died aged 80.

Walsh, who returned to his home town of Forbes a decade ago, passed away on Thursday morning after a long illness, leaving a huge legacy in the game he loved.

The St George great had the unique distinction of being the only player to captain-coach his club to a premiership and his country to an Ashes series win - a feat he achieved in 1966.

Ian Walsh following a Test match on the Kangaroos 1959-60 tour of Great Britain.
A giant of the game in his playing days, Walsh captained Australia to its historic 1963 Ashes triumph against Great Britain in England with wins in the first Test 28-2 at Wembley, 50-12 in the second Test at Swinton before losing the third Test 16-5 at Leeds.

Advertisement It was the first time an all Australian side had won the rugby league Ashes in England.

The only previously successful Ashes-winning team was the 1911-12 side that included New Zealand players.

Walsh described that Ashes win as "the greatest moment of my rugby league life. We had finally done it."

Credited with establishing the template for modern-day hookers of intelligent running from dummy-half, Walsh joined St George from the bush in 1962, playing in five winning grand final sides in the club's record run of 11 successive premierships between 1956-66.

He was captain-coach of the 1966 side that won the grand final 23-4 against Balmain and the 1967 side that lost 12-11 to Canterbury in the final, ending St George's record run.

Walsh played 25 Tests between 1959-66, toured with the 1959-60 and 1963-64 Kangaroos and made two tours to New Zealand.

He was a strong contender for the Australian Rugby League team of the Century selected in 2008 and was named in the NSW Country Rugby League's Team of the Century.

He also coached Parramatta in 1971-72 and for more than a decade was a forthright and fearless rugby league columnist with the Daily Telegraph.

Teammates and friends were mourning after learning of Walsh's passing.

"He was a great player and a great man. I toured with him in 1967 and played under him at St George," said Immortal fullback Graeme Langlands.

"It's a sad day for rugby league."

Former Test forward Noel Cleal and Walsh founded a strong friendship in recent years based on their rural upbringing.

"We both loved the bush. There was never a better man to go camping and fishing with than Ian," said Cleal.

"We talked a lot of football. He was a great companion and a great footballer."

Funeral details are yet to be announced.


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The game has changed alot since he ran the field. RIP Ian. May your legacy and your memory live on. 


a real legend, used to have to go past his house to footy training and papa clay lived opposite the field so there was no shirking at training 


Vale Ian Walsh
Thursday 4 April 2013 12:00 PM

The Dragons will honour former Captain and Coach Ian Walsh with a moments silence prior to the home fixture against the Newcastle Knights at WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Sunday.
Dragons players will also wear black armbands to honour the representative hooker who sadly passed away overnight at a nursing home in Forbes aged 80 after a long illness.
Walsh, known as ‘Abdul’, began his rugby league career in the central west of New South Wales, Condobolin (1951), Parkes 1952-53), Forbes (1954-55), Eugowra (1956-61) before joining the Dragons in 1962.
Walsh played 96 games in his six seasons with the Club, winning five Premierships during this time.
Walsh was one of the best hooker forwards in the game and the perfect clubman, loyal and dedicated.
Following the retirement of Norm Provan in 1965, Walsh took on the role of Captain Coach and led the Dragons to their world record 11th consecutive Premiership.
In this same year (1966), Walsh was also Captain Coach of Australia and led his country to an ashes victory.
Walsh was renown for his courage and leadership throughout his career and considered one of the Games greatest ever Captains.
A dummy-half of consummate skill and a player of immense quality, Walsh’s first representative honours came for Western Division aged 17 in 1951 when they hosted a touring French side.
He captained the district against Great Britain and then went on to higher honours representing New South Wales in 24 games between 1959 and 1966 and Australia in 25 Tests, 10 as Captain, between 1959 and 1966.
In the Centenary of the game in 2008, Walsh was named in the list of Australia’s 100 Greatest Players and is one of 18 Dragons players inducted into the Club’s “Legends Walk” at WIN Jubilee Oval.
Walsh is survived by his widow Margot, daughters Donna and Terri and grandchildren Lilly, Michael, Peter, Andrew and Timothy.
“The Dragons brand is one of the most respected in sport and a lot of its strength comes from the many great champions who have represented the Club over the years,” said Dragons CEO Peter Doust.
“Ian Walsh has played an incredible part in that history and his contributions will always be respected and remembered.
“It is a sad day for our Club and our thoughts are with Ian’s family.
“We will pay tribute to Ian at our first home game in Kogarah at WIN Jubilee Oval on Sunday.”
Click to find out more about the life of Ian Walsh
Club Career 1950-67
Condobolin 1950-51
Parkes 1952-53
Forbes 1954-55
Eugowra 1956-61
St George 1962-67 (96 Games; Four Tries)
Representative Career 1957-66
NSW Country 1957-61 (Six Games)
NSW City 1962-66 (Four Games)
Sydney 1962-66
v. Touring Teams 1962-66 (Four Games)
New South Wales 1959-66
v. Queensland 1959-66 (17 Games; One Try)
v. Touring Sides 1959-66 (Seven Games; One Try)
Australia 1959-66
Tests 1959-66 (25 Games)
Tour Matches 1959-65 (39 Games; Five Tries; One Goal)
Grand Total
All Senior Matches (198 Games; 11 Tries; One Goal)
Career total does not include matches played in Western NSW, or minor representative matches for Western Division or NSW Colts.
Walsh captained Australia in 10 Test matches 1963-66.
He played in Premiership-winning St George teams in 1962-63-65-66
He captain-coached St George in 1966-67 and later coached Parramatta 1971-72
He later became an outspoken commentator on the game through his regular Daily Telegraph column.
Source: David Middleton, League Information Services


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