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ACT Veterans rugby mourn loss of the club's oldest player, Ian Wells

The ACT Veterans rugby community is mourning the loss of its oldest and most popular player, Ian Wells, who died last week less than a month after his last game for the team.

Past and present veterans players formed a guard of honour at Wells' funeral on Thursday as he was farewelled at the Norwood Park Crematorium.

Wells was 81 and still played for the veterans, including one last hit in the Tony Ryan Memorial match on February 14.

Wells was a stalwart of Easts and is regarded as the driving force behind the club's women's team.

He started playing for the veterans in 1995 and was awarded a 20-year badge at the club's annual dinner in October last year.

"He was the club's most prolific try-scorer, scoring at least one try in every game he played," said veterans official Craig Wilkes.


"This may have been due to the gold shorts, which meant he could not be tackled or touched. He was a crowd favourite at the annual Brumbies curtain-raiser game against the Navy Old Salts.

"His last game was the Tony Ryan Memorial Match on 14 February. At the game he was interviewed by WIN Television and stated he was going to play rugby for as long as he possibly could and, always true to his word as the gentleman he was, he did."

The veterans regarded Wells as their 'secret weapon' because opposition teams were not allowed to tackle him because of his age.

"My favourite memory of Ian Wells was at the curtain-raiser game at Canberra Stadium in 2014 against the Navy Old Salts.

"The Navy had decided to counter our 'secret weapon' with one of their own, bringing the 70-something father of one of the Old Salts players to join their team ... he wasn't allowed to be tackled either.

"On the last play of the game the Old Salts gave the ball to their oldest player and he trotted off towards the try line, with Ian in hot pursuit.

"Ian then eased back to let him score. After the game Ian said: 'I was nearly on him but then realised even if I did catch him I couldn't tackle him'!"