The rugby world lost a humble, hardworking, lovable legend of the game this morning. Former NSW Country Junior Rugby Union President John Hamilton passed away overnight after he lost his 12 month battle with Melanoma.
John was a ‘roll up your sleeves’ type of president. He was a stereo-typical country man; a farmer no less; a doer, not a talker. John was a leader and great bloke to mostly everyone who knew him. He was the leader that NSW Country Junior Rugby Union needed when he took on the Presidency in 2014. He didn’t take a back step when he knew he was right. He pushed boundaries and took every opportunity to further the success of Country Junior Rugby Union. He was the guy we all went to for rugby advice.
John also sat on committee’s at a State level (incl as Vice President of NSW Juniors). He loved the interaction, negotiations and debates with executive rugby types who often tried to bluff the volunteers (to no avail of course – he was way too smart!). He had a keen eye for detail and was not afraid to ask the hard questions during budget meetings or teleconferences when it came to Country missing out on something.
John graciously lead Country Juniors for four seasons between 2014 and 2017. He also Coached Country U/18 for several seasons prior to taking on the President’s role. During this time, NSW Country Junior Rugby Union expanded to include a sevens Country Championship, a Country representative sevens side in the Nationals Championship, the introduction of a girls country championship in the U/17 and U/15 age group, the selection and development of an U/17 girls Country Junior representative side and Country Junior Rugby Union tours to Argentina, Spain, South Africa, Fiji, Italy, New Zealand.
John was a huge advocate of having NSW Country side compete in the NSW Schools Competition. He wanted to give players of school age who had left school and were employed in various occupations a pathway to elite rugby and the possibility to be selected into the Australian Schoolboys team (what we now know as the Academy system to the Australian Schools & U18s team). He was also under the firm belief that introducing girls to 15 a side rugby would result in the game taking huge leaps forward.
John was not only an exemplary rugby coach and administrator, he was a loving husband to Viv and a very proud father to Leesa, Harry and Grace.
He was my mate, mentor and rugby confidant! Right up until the week before he died, I was still talking rugby with him. He knew he didn’t have long to go but he wanted to know everything that was going on in rugby circles and offering his advice and opinion. He loved it and we loved him for his passion, dedication, humility and wit. I will miss him greatly.
A tribute by Michael Sutherland (CJRU).