04 January 2019

Wallabies legend John Thornett dies aged 83

Wallabies legend John Thornett, MBE, passed away today aged 83, at his home in Bateman’s Bay on the NSW South Coast.

John Edward Thornett was revered by all who played alongside him or watched his heroics leading the Australian rugby pack as a flanker, second-rower and ultimately in the front row as a prop toward the end of his illustrious career.

Thornett played a total of 37 Tests for the Walllabies, 16 as captain and was one of three brothers including Dick Thornett who played for both the Wallabies and the Kangaroos in rugby league, and Ken Thornett who played for the Kangaroos and is widely regarded as a Parramatta rugby league legend.

On the 1962 Wallabies tour of New Zealand, Thornett played in all three Tests and in 11 of the total 13 matches. In 1963 he captained Australia to an 18–9 victory in a one-off test at the Sydney Cricket Ground    against England. He also led his nation in matches and tours against South Africa, Fiji and played his final Test for Australia against the French in Paris in 1967.

John Thornett played club rugby for Sydney University and Norths before graduating to a NSW jersey and the national side.

He was the second Australian player, after Nicholas Shehadie, to play 100 games for his country and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1966 and inducted into the  Sport Australia Hall Of Fame in 1985. He received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and in 2005 was honoured as one of the inaugural five inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame and in 2013 was added as an inductee to the IRB Hall of Fame.

The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust recognised the Thornett brothers' significant contribution to the Australian sporting landscape and paid homage to them with a plaque on the Walk Of Honour in the SCG precinct. 'The Thornett Brothers' plaque sits proudly alongside other Australian sporting icons such as Dally Messenger, Reg Gasnier and Trevor Alllen.

The Walk Of Honour will be transformed in to a Wall Of Honour near the Noble atrium in the coming weeks.

John Thornett is survived by his wife Vivienne who was with him when he died.

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