Sir Nicholas Michael Shehadie
- 352Wallaby Number
Nick Shehadie was one of the most accomplished and influential Wallaby player / administrators of all-time. During his extraordinary career Shehadie held the record as the most capped Wallaby (1955-61), captained Australia in three Tests, became an honorary member of the Barbarians Football Club, chaired both the New South Wales and Australian Rugby Unions, managed the Seventh Wallaby tour to the U.K., and was named Joint Chairman of the inaugural Rugby World Cup. The son of a Lebanese Orthodox Christian minister, Shehadie was born in Coogee but raised in Redfern where he attended both Cleveland Street and Crown Street schools. He entered the workforce aged just 14, joined Randwick and in 1943 made his First Grade debut as a centre alongside the legendary Cyril Towers.
In 1946 Shehadie played the first of his 37 State games and a little over a 12 months later made his Test debut, at lock, against New Zealand in Sydney. Shehadie was then selected on the Third Wallabies tour of 1947/48 where he played 24 matches and established himself as the team’s set-piece lynchpin. Shehadie went on to start in 27 of Australia’s next 29 Tests through to the 1957/58 Fourth Wallabies tour when he became the first player to make a second major tour of the British Isles and Europe. On that tour Shehadie also became the first tourist to represent the Barbarians in a match against his own country.
On returning to Australia he played his last game for the Wallabies against an Australian XV. Amazingly his decorated playing career was at least equalled by his time in the game’s administration. Essentially, without the efforts of Shehadie the Rugby World Cup would not have got off the ground. In the early 1980s there were fears of a breakaway competition not unlike Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. Shehadie, then president of the Australian Rugby Union, gained the support of its executive, as well as that of New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Dick Littlejohn, to 'save our game and not lose it to some entrepreneur' by organising a World Cup. The two executives then set about to lobby the key International Rugby Board delegates. Despite ridicule and a definitive lack of respect from certain members of the delegation the resolve of the two southerners did not waiver.
At the 1985 IRB meeting both Scotland and Ireland voted against a Rugby World Cup however the antipodeans emerged victorious as England and Wales sided with the Australian, New Zealand and French delegates for an 8-6 final vote tally. The rest, as they say, is history. Shehadie’s influence on the game of rugby internationally was paid the ultimate tribute in 2011 when he was inducted into the IRB (World Rugby) Hall of Fame for his role in establishing the Rugby World Cup. His public life outside of rugby was also extraordinary. Shehadie was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) in 1971 and a Knight Bachelor (Imperial) in 1976. In 1990, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for service to the media, to sport and to community. Sir Nicholas Shehadie played 30 Tests for Australia, three as captain, in an 11-year international career.
Shehadie won his first Test cap in the middle row alongside Joe Kraefft in the 2nd Test, 14-27 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G.
He did not play in the opening three Tests of the Wallabies tour however when ‘Wallaby Bob’ McMaster finally succumbed to an ankle injury Shehadie was promoted to the front row in partnership with Ken Kearney and Eric Tweedale for the final two internationals against England and France.
Shehadie was capped at lock in all three Tests against the New Zealand Maori and in combination with Rex Mossop for both away Tests against New Zealand.
He started both home Test losses against the British Lions , the first at lock with Mossop and the second at prop with Nev Cottrell and Keith Gordon.
Shehadie played all three home Tests against New Zealand, two in the front row that were split by a start at lock in the second Sydney match.
He partnered Alan Cameron in the two home Tests against Fiji but then missed his first match since the Third Wallabies tour, the opening Test victory over New Zealand at Lancaster Park after he failed to overcome a hip injury suffered in the uncapped match with Southland. Shehadie returned alongside Cameron for the 8-15 loss at Athletic Park.
Shehadie was capped at prop in all four Tests on the tour to South Africa. When tour skipper John Solomon was omitted for the final international at Port Elizabeth Shehadie became the 39th Wallaby to captain Australia at Test level.
Shehadie retained the captaincy for the two Test, split home series against Fiji
He returned to New Zealand and started at prop in all three internationals. Although he didn’t know it at the time Shehadie became Australia’s most capped player in the opening Test at Athletic Park. He won his 23rd cap to surpass Larry Wogan’s 31-year record of 22 caps won from 1913-24.
Col Forbes, Jim Brown and Shehadie formed the front row in both 0-9 home losses to South Africa.
Shehadie missed the first Test, 11-25 loss to New Zealand in Sydney but returned to the front row for the 9-22 defeat in Brisbane.
He started the opening two Test of the Fourth Wallabies tour - against Wales and Ireland before Geoff Vaughan was brought in to partner Jim Brown and captain Bob Davison for the final three internationals.