Anthony John Ekert
Anthony Ekert was a talented halfback in the classic style whose skill set allowed him to represent Australia in both 7s and 15s. Notably taller than his cohort, Ekert’s opportunism and link play saw him elevated to deputy behind Nick Farr-Jones and Peter Slattery in the early 1990s.
Ekert played his first rugby with the Roselea U5s in Sydney’s northern district. He attended Oakhill College and was a member of the 1st XV in his final year (1986). Ekert then left Sydney to study Surveying at the University of Newcastle where he twice won the Sportsperson of the Year (1989 & 1992).
In 1990 Ekert was selected alongside future fellow Wallaby Andrew Walker for NSW Country in their 6-19 loss to the U.S.A. in Grenfell. A year later he was chosen for the New South Wales tour to Argentina and scored a try on debut in the 36-12 win over Rosario. Ekert then finished that representative season with a try off the bench in the Waratahs’ memorable 71-8 rout of Wales.
In 1992 Ekert debuted for the Australian Men’s 7s side in Hong Kong before he faced the touring Scots three times - for a Northern Territory selection XV, the Emerging Wallabies and NSW Country - in just 10 days. Ekert then enjoyed what was arguably his finest rep game when he “starred” in Sydney’s 40-17 “thrashing” of the All Blacks at Penrith. That 23-point margin remains the largest loss ever suffered by a New Zealand men’s XV. Ekert’s performance that evening, coupled with Farr-Jones’ retirement, went a long way to his selection alongside Slattery on the Wallaby end-of-season tour to Ireland and Wales. While the Queenslander started both Tests, Ekert was an unused replacement in each match day squad. Nonetheless, Ekert did make his Australian debut, in the uncapped 19-22 loss to Munster in Cork.
The halfback landscape changed in 1993 when Slattery broke two ribs after he was kneed in the back against Tonga. Although Brett Johnstone played well on debut as Slattery’s replacement in that match Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer reached out to Farr-Jones who accepted an invitation to return from retirement for both the one-off Bledisloe Test and the subsequent home series against South Africa. In addition, the emergence of George Gregan, Steve Merrick and Mark Catchpole at a provincial level only heightened competition for the coveted number nine jersey.
Sam Payne arrived on the rep season in 1994 to further complicate Ekert’s efforts at state level however he fought his way back into the Waratah squad in the wake of the 1995 Rugby World Cup after future Wallaby coach Greg Smith described him as “the form half-back in the Sydney competition.” Ekert rounded out the season in style as Gordon defeated Canberra 24-11 to win the Shute Shield.
By 1996 Gregan had firmly established himself as the number one half in the country and he went on to dominate the position for 12 seasons through to his retirement in 2007.
Anthony Ekert played five uncapped matches for Australia in his one season of international XVs rugby.
Represented Australian Men’s 7s. Represented Australia in five uncapped matches on the tour to Ireland and Wales – Munster (L 19-22), Connacht (W 14-6), Wales ‘B’ (W 24-11), Monmouthshire (W 19-9) and Welsh Students (W 37-6). Ekert was also an unused replacement for the away Tests against Ireland and Wales.
Represented Australian Men’s 7s