Australian rugby mourns death of icon
AUSTRALIAN rugby is mourning the loss of one of its most towering figures, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, who died Monday morning aged 92.
Shehadie was a much-respected Wallaby between 1946-58, having played 30 Tests and over 100 games for Australia. He also captained the Wallabies.
Shehadie later served as the president of the Australian Rugby Union as well; a position that saw him play a leading role in the creation of the Rugby World Cup in 1987.
Shehadie and others fought opposition from northern hemisphere naysayers and the World Cup proved a huge success. It is now the game's flagship event.
The husband of former NSW governor general Dame Marie Bashir, Shehadie also had a distinguished public life. He served as Sydney's lord mayor between 1973 and 1975, and was the chairman of SBS for two decades between 1981 and 1999.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott tweeted "Sir Nicholas Shehadie improved everything he was involved with."
"He improved rugby as Wallaby captain, improved our city as lord mayor and even managed to improve SBS as its chairman," Abbott wrote.
"He will be much missed by the Sunday morning walkers at Balmoral where he was a fixture until quite recently. My deepest condolences to Dame Marie who has lost a wonderful partner."
Broadcaster Alan Jones, who was Wallabies coach under Shehadie's administration, said on radio: "(He was) a wonderful, wonderful Australian ... a beautiful man. Our thoughts are very much with Marie and the family, lovely people."
Politicians and business figures paid tribute to Shehadie.
"Deeply saddened to hear the news of Sir Nicholas Shehadie AC OBE, passing away," SBS CEO Michael Ebeid tweeted.
"Was the SBS chairman 1981-99, 18 yrs and instrumental in our formation. A great Australian on many levels. Thoughts are with Marie Bashir and their family."