JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Reg Gasnier: In memory of a gentleman and a giant of rugby league

Reg Gasnier ... "I was red-and-white crazy. It was always my ambition to play for St George".

Reg Gasnier ... "I was red-and-white crazy. It was always my ambition to play for St George".

It is significant that Saturday’s memorial ceremony for Reg Gasnier at Kogarah Oval will have an almost religious formality because the Dragons and Immortal centre set rugby league records with a quiet grace which was very nearly priestly.

His country's youngest-ever captain at 23 years and 28 days in 1962, he played in 39 Tests, toured with the Kangaroos three times, scored 219 tries in 223 first-class games and was a Team of the Century player.

Despite there being no vision of St George in 1959, the year he began his brilliant career – and little of Gasnier himself – he is known to two generations of fans who never saw him play and my generation who did and will never forget it.

Reg Gasnier in action for St George.

Reg Gasnier in action for St George.

We recall him larger than life, shining like a Sunday morning, bursting downfield in heart-stopping swiftness, always a footballer but athletically one who carried a mystical beauty.

He was not only the most valuable backline player of his era, he was also the most dazzling, the most breathtaking, the most engaging and the most joy to watch.

Saturday's ceremony, to precede the Dragons versus Cowboys match, will begin at 4.25pm and be televised by Fox Sports.

The original Immortals ... Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Johnny Raper and Reg Gasnier.

The original Immortals ... Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Johnny Raper and Reg Gasnier.

Each fan attending will be handed a tribute booklet and the ceremony will involve the five living Immortals plus Gasnier’s captain coach, Norm Provan, handing the Gasnier family medallions for each of Reg’s six premierships.

Players from Gasnier’s junior club, Renown, together with those from St George who played 10 or more games with him, will form a guard of honour.

His co-centre in St George’s 1962 grand final and fellow Kangaroo tourist in 1959, John Riley, will be at Kogarah, the first opportunity to honour Gasnier on his old home ground since he died on May 11, just a day short of his 75th birthday.

Gasnier and Riley were St George juniors who played for rival clubs, with Riley playing for Ramsgate United.

“I hated him then but I loved him in 1957 when we played in St George’s winning Presidents Cup team,” Riley said. “From the first day to the last day I played with him, I will never forget him going past them, stepping a bit wider each time.

“We loved to see the back of him but we also knew it was going to be a try. He was unselfish, too. He made a bloody heap of tries for others as well.”

Riley and Gasnier both missed the 1959 grand final, breaking down with injury the week before, yet both toured with the Kangaroos.

“He missed the first seven games with a hamstring injury but was as good over there as he was here,” Riley says.

“The fields were muddy but he just floated across the top of them. He also dodged most of the stiffies [stiff arm tackles].”

Gasnier’s wife Maureen and Riley’s wife Gwen were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings.

“They are as thick as thieves,” Riley says. “They played golf together as members of what we called the ‘rat pack’ at Woolaware Golf Club.”

Riley’s comments evoke memories of a one-club, one-woman era when Sydney’s footballers grew up in the district where they learnt their junior football, became engaged to the first woman they seriously dated and stayed married. They retired before their use-by date, mainly to pursue further careers to support their growing families.

It’s a wholesome image which complements Gasnier’s pristine on-field reputation.

Of the possibility of ever leaving St George, he once told me, "The residential qualification applied, but I was red-and-white crazy. It was always my ambition to play for St George."

Of his hero, St George five-eighth Johnny Hawke, he said. "I ran onto the field after one of his games to get the corner post. It was wet and the bloody thing unfurled in 10 seconds."

He gave most of his football jumpers away but not his first Test jersey, worn in 1959 at the SCG against New Zealand. "I paraded around my parents' home at Mortdale in that jumper and slept in it," he said.

Of his retirement, before he reached the age of 29, after hobbling from the field nine minutes from the end of a Kangaroo tour match against a French Hopefuls team on a chilly Avignon day in 1968, he said, "I could have played for St George in '68 but my priorities had changed. I wanted to spend time with my family and devote more time to my career."

When he suffered nerve damage to the left side of his face in November 1994, beginning 20 years of medical attention, he said of Maureen, “She has become the general manager of my operations.”

Riley says of the tumours, "It was a terrible illness he went though. I never once heard him say, ‘Why me?’."

It is difficult to reconcile the wasted, withered Gasnier in his final years with the athletic aura he displayed from an early age.

He played first-grade cricket for St George, once representing NSW against a Fiji XI alongside Keith Miller, Richie Benaud, Alan Davidson, Neil Harvey and Norm O’Neill.

He also played baseball for NSW and was a handy golfer.

Riley recalls, “He’d also run in all the athletic carnivals,” winning events from the sprints to the middle distance.

“On the ’59 tour, we went skiing in France, wearing these daggy old tracksuits. None of us had ever skied before. Reg kept falling arse over tit.

“We laughed and he told us all to piss off. In the end we all went to the bar and told him he was the world’s worst skier.

“It was the only thing he wasn’t good at.”

Each year, in perpetuity, a Dragons home game at Jubilee Oval Kogarah will be the Reg Gasnier match. A Reg Gasnier scholarship will be awarded annually, to a local male or female rugby league person, to assist with their continued personal and professional development for three years.

A plaque will be laid at the north-west corner of the playing field at Kogarah.

6 comments

  • Roy,
    Love your work. Lovely tribute to a perfect gent.
    I was not fortunate enough to ever see Reg play.
    The footage of him , I'm told doesn't do him justice.
    People are unanimous in their descriptions of him as a gentleman and one who suffered greatly but with immense grace in his later years.
    Thank you Roy, a fitting eulogy.

    Commenter
    The Heff
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 03, 2014, 9:27PM
    • Poignant.

      Good piece.

      Commenter
      A O
      Location
      Kia Ora
      Date and time
      July 04, 2014, 6:48AM
      • Agree. Bravo.

        Commenter
        PatrickSean54
        Location
        Wollongong
        Date and time
        July 04, 2014, 3:00PM
    • Great article Roy.

      What a legend he really was, and whilst there is plenty to criticise about how the Dragons are being run at the moment, they have got this right. A legend of our club, and someone that should never be forgotten.

      All it needs to top it off is a big win for the boys with the Big Red V, as they farewell one of their absolute greatest players..... nothing else would suffice on such an important occasion.

      Commenter
      Jim
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 04, 2014, 11:58AM
      • Amazing. A St. George legend for all eternity. This is why I'll always love this club. He was the community.

        Commenter
        James G
        Date and time
        July 04, 2014, 7:05PM
        • I recall him coming to my school to chat with us boys in the early seventies. Brilliant footballer, but a very modest and charming man. It meant a lot to us at the time. RIP Reg

          Commenter
          Fiar dinkum
          Location
          Oz
          Date and time
          July 05, 2014, 11:26AM
          Comments are now closed

          NRL Season 2015

          Round 1
          Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
          BRI 6 vs SOU 36 Report Stats
          Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
          PAR 42 vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
          Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
          NEW 24 vs NZW 14 Report Stats
          GCT 18 vs WST 19 Report Stats
          NQL 4 vs SYD 28 Report Stats
          Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
          PEN 24 vs CBY 18 Report Stats
          CRO 20 vs CBR 24 Report Stats
          Mon, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
          STG 4 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 2
          Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
          CBY 32 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
          CRO 2 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
          Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
          PEN 40 vs GCT Report Stats
          MAN 24 vs MEL 22 Stats
          NQL 14 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
          Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
          SOU 34 vs SYD 26 Stats
          CBR 6 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
          Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
          WST 22 vs STG 4 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 3
          Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
          MAN 12 vs CBY 16 Report Stats
          BRI 44 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
          Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
          NZW 29 vs PAR 16 Report Stats
          CBR 20 vs STG 22 Report Stats
          MEL 36 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
          Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
          SOU 20 vs WST 6 Report Stats
          GCT 18 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
          Mon, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
          SYD 20 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 4
          Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
          PAR 29 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
          WST 24 vs CBY 25 Report Stats
          Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
          NEW 26 vs PEN 14 Report Stats
          CRO 22 vs GCT 24 Report Stats
          STG 12 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
          Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
          NZW 16 vs BRI 24 Report Stats
          SYD 34 vs CBR 6 Report Stats
          Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
          NQL 18 vs MEL 17 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 5
          Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
          CBY 17 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
          GCT 16 vs BRI 26 Report Stats
          Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
          MAN 16 vs CBR 29 Report Stats
          NEW vs STG 13 Report Stats
          Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
          SYD 12 vs CRO 20 Report Stats
          Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
          PAR 6 vs WST 22 Report Stats
          MEL 30 vs NZW 14 Report Stats
          PEN 10 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 6
          Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
          BRI 22 vs SYD 18 Report Stats
          CRO 22 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
          Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
          PAR 16 vs GCT 38 Report Stats
          NZW 32 vs WST 22 Report Stats
          PEN 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
          Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
          CBR 10 vs MEL 14 Report Stats
          STG 31 vs CBY 6 Report Stats
          Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
          SOU 12 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 7
          Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
          CBY 28 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
          STG 12 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
          Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
          GCT 32 vs PEN 6 Report Stats
          NQL 28 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
          MEL 17 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
          Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
          WST 22 vs CBR 30 Report Stats
          NEW 22 vs PAR 28 Report Stats
          Mon, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
          CRO 18 vs SOU 10 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 8
          Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
          CBY 14 vs WST 38 Stats
          Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
          NZW 28 vs GCT 32 Report Stats
          NEW 24 vs NQL 26 Report Stats
          SYD 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
          MEL 10 vs MAN 12 Stats
          BRI 28 vs PAR 16 Stats
          Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
          PEN 26 vs CRO 18 Stats
          SOU 22 vs CBR 30 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 9
          Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
          BRI 8 vs PEN 5 Report Stats
          SYD 36 vs WST 4 Stats
          Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
          CBR 56 vs GCT 16 Stats
          CRO 16 vs NZW 20 Stats
          NQL 23 vs CBY 16 Stats
          Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
          MAN 30 vs NEW 10 Stats
          PAR 10 vs MEL 28 Stats
          Mon, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
          SOU 16 vs STG 10 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 10
          Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
          CBY 10 vs SYD 24 Stats
          NQL 31 vs BRI 20 Stats
          Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
          PAR 13 vs NZW 17 Report Stats
          GCT 22 vs CRO 23 Report Stats
          MEL 16 vs SOU 12 Stats
          Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
          STG 32 vs CBR 18 Report Stats
          NEW 22 vs WST 12 Stats
          Mon, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
          MAN 10 vs PEN 11 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 11
          Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
          SOU 14 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
          Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
          WST vs NQL 8 Stats
          Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
          CBR 34 vs CBY 41 Stats
          Mon, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
          NEW 18 vs BRI 31 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 12
          Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
          PEN vs PAR 19:45Pepper Stadium
          Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
          GCT vs SOU 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
          CBR vs BRI 17:30GIO Stadium
          NQL vs MAN 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
          Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs NEW 14:00MSS
          STG vs CRO 16:00Jubilee Oval
          Mon, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
          SYD vs MEL 19:00AS
          View All Fixtures
          Round 13
          Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
          BRI vs MAN 19:35SUN
          WST vs GCT 19:35VAS
          Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
          NEW vs CBR 15:00HS
          SOU vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
          PEN vs MEL 19:30Pepper Stadium
          Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
          CRO vs SYD 16:00Remondis Stadium
          Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
          CBY vs STG 16:00ANZ
          PAR vs NQL 19:00Pirtek Stadium
          View All Fixtures
          Round 14
          Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
          WST vs SOU 19:45ANZ
          Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs SYD 18:00MSS
          Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
          GCT vs CBY 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
          Mon, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
          MEL vs PAR 19:00AAMI
          View All Fixtures
          Round 15
          Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
          MAN vs WST 19:45BO
          Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
          CBR vs NQL 15:00GIO Stadium
          GCT vs NZW 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
          CBY vs PEN 19:30ANZ
          Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
          NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
          MEL vs BRI 16:00AAMI
          Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
          STG vs SYD 19:00AS
          View All Fixtures
          Round 16
          Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
          BRI vs NEW 19:35SUN
          SOU vs MAN 19:35ANZ
          Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs CBR 15:00MSS
          NQL vs CRO 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
          PAR vs STG 19:30Pirtek Stadium
          Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
          SYD vs GCT 14:00AS
          WST vs PEN 16:00VAS
          Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
          CBY vs MEL 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
          View All Fixtures
          Round 17
          Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
          PEN vs SOU 19:45Pepper Stadium
          Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
          STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
          Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
          MAN vs CRO 16:00BO
          Mon, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
          WST vs PAR 19:00ANZ
          View All Fixtures
          Round 18
          Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
          CBR vs NEW 19:45GIO Stadium
          Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
          PEN vs SYD 17:30Pepper Stadium
          CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
          Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs MEL 14:00MSS
          CRO vs STG 16:00Remondis Stadium
          Mon, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
          GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus Super Stadium
          View All Fixtures
          Round 19
          Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
          PAR vs CBY 19:35ANZ
          MEL vs PEN 19:35AAMI
          Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
          CBR vs CRO 15:00GIO Stadium
          NEW vs GCT 17:30HS
          STG vs SOU 19:30SCG
          Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
          SYD vs NZW 14:00AS
          BRI vs WST 16:00SUN
          Mon, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
          MAN vs NQL 19:00BO
          View All Fixtures
          Round 20
          Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
          BRI vs GCT 19:35SUN
          WST vs SYD 19:35ANZ
          Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs MAN 15:00MSS
          SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
          MEL vs STG 19:30AAMI
          Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
          PEN vs CBR 14:00Pepper Stadium
          CBY vs CRO 16:00Belmore Sports Ground
          Mon, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
          NQL vs PAR 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
          View All Fixtures
          Round 21
          Thu, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs CRO 22:00MSS
          Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
          NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
          STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
          SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
          SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
          MAN vs BRI 00:00TBA
          WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
          GCT vs PAR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
          View All Fixtures
          Round 22
          Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs STG 22:00MSS
          Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
          BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
          NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
          CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
          MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
          CRO vs NQL 00:00Remondis Stadium
          MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
          PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
          View All Fixtures
          Round 23
          Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
          BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
          CBY vs GCT 00:00TBA
          NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
          PEN vs NZW 00:00Pepper Stadium
          CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
          SYD vs PAR 00:00AS
          CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
          WST vs NEW 00:00CSS
          View All Fixtures
          Round 24
          Wed, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
          NZW vs NQL 22:00MSS
          Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
          STG vs PEN 00:00WIN
          SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
          SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
          MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
          CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
          MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
          GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
          View All Fixtures
          Round 25
          Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
          PAR vs CRO 00:00Pirtek Stadium
          NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
          SOU vs BRI 00:00AS
          CBR vs PEN 00:00GIO Stadium
          MAN vs SYD 00:00BO
          MEL vs NQL 00:00AAMI
          WST vs NZW 00:00CSS
          GCT vs STG 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
          View All Fixtures
          Round 26
          Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
          BRI vs MEL 00:00SUN
          CBY vs NZW 00:00ANZ
          NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
          STG vs WST 00:00ANZ
          PAR vs CBR 00:00Pirtek Stadium
          PEN vs NEW 00:00Pepper Stadium
          SYD vs SOU 00:00AS
          CRO vs MAN 00:00Remondis Stadium
          View All Fixtures
          NRL Ladder 2015
          Overall standings
          Team P W L D Pts
          Melbourne Storm 10 7 3 0 16
          Brisbane Broncos 11 8 3 0 16
          St George-Illawarra Dragons 10 7 3 0 16
          North Queensland Cowboys 11 8 3 0 16
          Sydney Roosters 10 5 5 0 12
          South Sydney Rabbitohs 11 6 5 0 12
          Warriors 10 5 5 0 12
          Penrith Panthers 10 5 5 0 12
          View all
           
          Featured advertisers