22 December 2017

Vale Ken Catchpole - our greatest halfback

The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust joins the Australian sporting community in mourning the loss of rugby union great and former Trustee Ken Catchpole.

Catchpole, Trustee number 118, died peacefully on December 21 aged 78.

SCG Trust Chairman Tony Shepherd paid tribute to Catchpole's many years of service to his sport and his country.

"Ken's contribution to Australian sport is well known, he was one of the finest players of any code to have represented his country," Mr Shepherd said.

"He was a brave and fearless player and a thorough gentleman.

"As a Trustee he made a tremendous contribution to the SCG, serving under chairmen Sir Nicholas Shehadie and Rodney Cavalier.

"Ken was a member-elected Trustee and always kept our members' interests at the forefront of his discussion and decision making.

"Since they first voted him on to the Trust in 1990, our members were served in the most outstanding and loyal fashion by Ken.

“Our thoughts are with June and the Catchpole family and we thank them very much for allowing Ken to give so much time and effort to the SCG Trust and Australian sport in general.”

Former chairman Rodney Cavalier recalled Catchpole's fierce advocacy for the general members of the SCG.

"Not a fee increase went through without searching questions, often with his vote recorded to the contrary," Mr Cavalier said.

"He regarded himself as very much the voice of the membership.”

Catchpole became a Trustee in 1990 and stood aside in 2014, making him one of the longest-serving members in the history of the SCG Trust.

A sculpture of Catchpole was unveiled in 2010 in the Allianz Stadium forecourt. With the opening of Rugby Australia House earlier this year, the decision was made to relocate Catchpole's likeness only last month.

The sculpture, part of the Basil Sellars Sports Sculpture Project, was reinstalled on Boxing Day adjacent to the main entry to Rugby Australia House.

Catchpole also features in the SCG Walk of Honour, where a wreath was laid in his honour.

Catchpole was Wallaby number 455, a former captain and a veteran of 27 Test matches and 67 games for Australia. He is widely regarded as one of the finest scrumhalves seen in Australian and world rugby.

At just 21 years of age, Catchpole became the second youngest player since World War II to captain Australia, in what was also his Test debut. Catchpole is also just the third player to skipper Australia on debut since 1945.

Shortly after his Test debut in 1961, Catchpole was named captain and coach for a six-match tour of South Africa.

The Scots College old boy amassed over 180 games for Randwick and was an inaugural member of both the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame.

Born in Sydney in 1939, Catchpole was a good schoolboy athlete as well as rugby player. He made his New South Wales debut against the Lions in 1959, aged just 19.

Catchpole will be farewelled at a private service on December 29.