Robert Alexander 'Alec' Evans
Alec Evans was a fixture as a versatile forward in Queensland teams for 11 seasons from 1959 to 1969. He built the then-record for most games for Queensland before a brief comeback at 34 in 1973 to aid an injury-hit state side which lifted his tally to 62 games.
He was schooled at Brisbane Grammar School where his trophy-winning as a rower showed him the value of a synchronised eight working as a unit. He was an influential factor in Brisbane Grammar’s 1958 GPS rugby premiership before making his Queensland debut at 20 against NSW in the backrow in 1959. Evans was the definition of the all-purpose forward hardman. He was adding authority at prop when he played against his state rivals for a final time in 1973.
He had a tough, no-nonsense make-up and played with all the mental resilience he would later impart as a coach. In 1965, he returned to the field for Queensland against the touring South African side with a dislocated shoulder. A needle might have dulled the pain but he still had to play virtually one-armed.
He captained Queensland on more than 20 occasions and his style always gave Queensland starch up front in an era of NSW dominance.
He went on tour with the 1962 Wallabies to New Zealand but glandular fever cruelly struck him down before he played a game. His physical edge put him in contention to tour with the Wallabies to South Africa in 1969. One selector revealed his piece of paper with Evans’ name on it but the case he argued came up short of selection.
Evans' career in coaching was even more impressive. He held the singular achievement of being a valued assistant coach to four Wallabies coaches, Alan Jones, Rod Macqueen, Greg Smith and John Connolly. Jones pushed hard to have Evans officially part of the Wallabies squad as an assistant coach on the 1984 Grand Slam tour. The partnership paid off superbly there and on the Bledisloe Cup-winning tour of New Zealand in 1986.
Evans was the unsung hero behind the scrum power for the Wallabies’ famous pushover try against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1984.
He became known as “The Scrum Doctor” and “the keeper of the standards” behind his trademark finger whistle on the training field.
He coached Wests, Souths and the Gold Coast to premierships in Brisbane’s club competition between 1985-2004. Equally, the coaching style honed while on staff at Brisbane Grammar translated across sports. He coached Grammar to seven GPS swimming premierships.
“Alec is the total rugby persona…player, coach, manager, guide of young men,” Jones said in tribute.
Former Wallabies captain Andrew Slack explained the warmth and respect players felt towards Evans: “Whether it was an Under-9 rower, an Under-16Cs footy player or the best Wallaby, I think Alec was a coach for life with his attitude in sports coaching but also personal development with his interest in people.”
He never coached Queensland or Australia but was given the rare honour of coaching Wales, on short notice, to the 1995 Rugby World Cup after successes coaching Cardiff.
He was inducted into the Queensland Rugby Hall of Fame in 2015 and his contribution to Australian rugby was recognised when named a Life Member of Rugby Australia in 2022.