Sir Nicholas Shehadie dies at 91
Shehadie's father emigrated from Lebanon to Australia where Shehadie was born and grew up. He was born in Coegee where there is a splendid beach and the famous Randwick rugby club. Shehadie surfed and then started playing rugby at the rugby club. At the age of only 16, he was chosen to play rugby for New South Wales and then, five years later, he began and international career of in 11 Tests over 11 seasons for Australia. He was a prop and sometimes a lock.
He played his first Test at 21, his last at 31. He was the first Wallaby to play 100 matches for Australia, for that included matches on tour. He played 114 times in all. He captained the Wallabies in touring matches and in three Tests, the first against the Springboks in 1953 when he had a tough time dealing with Jaap Bekker. His first Test was against New Zealand in Sydney, which New Zealand won. His last was against Ireland in Dublin, which Ireland won. In fact the Wallabies won just eight of the Tests in which he played. He was three times on winning sides against New Zealand, including twice in 1949 when Australia first won the Bledisloe Cup, and once each against England and South Africa.
In 1958 he was elected a Barbarian, the first player from an overseas touring team to be so elected. And the match in which he played was against the Wallabies!
Shehadie established himself as a successful business man in the retail business, particularly tiling.
More and more he was involved in public life, elected an alderman of the city of Sydney in 1962 and Lord Mayor in 1973, the year the Sydney Opera House was opened.
He was a trustee of the Sydney Cricket Ground, a committee member of the Sydney Turf Cup, the chairman of the Special Broadcasting Service and a patron of the Randwick club that he played for over 16 seasons.
In 1979 Shehadie became the Chairman of the New South Wales Rugby Union and in 1980 the president of the Australian Rugby Union, a post he held till 1987, critical years.
It was in the 1980s that a world cup for rugby became an issue, and Shehadie threw his weight behind it. In 1985 those in favour of the World Cup, predominantly Australia and New Zealand, carried the day and the first Rugby World Cup took place in Australia and New Zealand. Shehadie was the co-chairman with John Kendall-Carpenter and John Littlejohn of the committee that organised the World Cup.
The World Cup has changed rugby forever.
In 2011 Shehadie was inducted into the IRB's Hall of Fame.
In Australia he was knighted and also awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Nicholas Michael Shehadie was born in Coegee in the Sydney suburb of Randwick on 15 November 1926. He died in Sydney on 11 February 2018, survived by his wide, Dame Marie Bashir who governed New South Wales for 14 years, their son, two daughters and six grandchildren.
The chairman of Rugby Australia, Cameron Clyne, said of Shehadie: “Not only have we lost one of our great Wallaby captains, but we have lost a truly great Australian. His was an extraordinary life."