Who is Wally Lewis?
Wally Lewis is one of the most iconic rugby players ever produced by Australia. Since his teenage days, this player has been creating waves in Australia’s rugby circuit by the virtue of his talent. He soon landed a place in the national team and eventually went on to captain the side. Under his captaincy, the team emerged victorious in the tour of France and Great Britain, helping the team earn the title of ‘The Invincibles’. Most of the wins registered by the Kangaroos, under Wally’s captaincy were secured with thumping margins. He had once charged 30,000 Euros to play for a private club, which was the highest remuneration paid to any player at the time. Since then this sportsman has played for various teams like ‘Wynnum Mally’, as well as ‘Brisbane Broncos’. This player has won a string of awards which also include a ‘Golden Boot’ honour. Even a statue of this renowned sportsman has been installed at Lang Park, a venue where he played many games, in honour of his path-breaking rugby performances. The player even penned his autobiography after his retirement, which was well-received by sports fans and readers. He continues to be an inspiration for many budding rugby players of his nation even today
Childhood & Early Life
Wally Lewis was born to Jimmy and June on the 1st of December, 1959 at the Hawthorne region, located in the state of Queensland, Australia.
His father was a sportsperson who represented clubs like ‘Western Suburb Panthers’, known as ‘Wests’, as well as ‘Souths Logan Magpies’. Lewis’ mother was a renowned netball player of her time and even represented the team of Queensland.
Like his father, Wally excelled in Rugby at a young age and even got an opportunity to be a part of the ‘Australian Schoolboys Team’. In 1977, he travelled overseas along with the team to nations such as Japan and Europe.
However, he was denied an opportunity to be a part of mainstream rugby by the ‘Queensland Rugby Union’ due to his league background. Lewis then, represented the team ‘Valley’s Diehards’ in the ‘Brisbane Rugby League Premiership’ tournament which was held in 1978.
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Wally made waves in the Australian Rugby circuit when he played for the team ‘Queensland Maroons’ in the ‘1980 State of Origin’ tournament. The highlight of this tournament was that the youngster got a chance to play alongside the legendary player, Arthur Beetson, who was his role model.
His performance in this competition landed him a spot in the Australian national team in 1981. During his debut match, held at the ‘Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG)’, Australia registered a win by a thumping 43-3 margin against France.
The very next year, Wally was promoted to the designation of the vice-captain for the 1982 tour of Great Britain and France. This Australian team went on to taste success during this overseas tour.
During the ‘Rugby Football League Season’ of 1983-84, he represented the first division team ‘Wakefield Trinity’. In his presence, the team registered 5 wins out of 10 contests. He even scored a hat-trick in a match against the ‘St Helens Rugby Football Club’, making him a favourite amongst Football fans.
In 1984, this rugby player moved out of ‘Wakefield Trinity’ and started playing for the team ‘Wynnum-Manly Seagulls’. In the same year, he represented a rugby team from Oceania as its captain, leading the side to a 54-4 victory over a French team.
In the year 1986, Lewis was appointed as the captain and coach of the ‘Wynnum-Manly’ team, which included iconic players like Gene Miles and Colin Scott. He steered his team to victory in the finals of the ‘BRL’ tournament held at Lang Park.
The same year, he also helped Australia defeat New Zealand in the mid-season test series in consecutive games, achieving a clean sweep.
Wally next joined the team ‘Brisbane Broncos’ in 1988, the same year as its formation. Under his captaincy, the team registered a win in its very first game. However, after being a part of the team for just two seasons, Wally was asked to leave the team by the team’s coach Wayne Barnett.
Lewis returned to Sydney after the spat with ‘Brisbane Broncos’ and joined the team ‘Gold Coast Seagulls’ in 1991. He was appointed as both the captain as well as the coach of this team. However, in the ‘NSWRL’ tournament of 1992, he was unsuccessful to recreate the old magic and the team ended up faring badly.
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He then stopped playing for this team, but continued mentoring the players for many more games. However, during his tenure as the coach, ‘Gold Coast Seagulls’ lost 37 of the 44 games they played.
On November 7, 1992, this iconic rugby player played the final game of his career against a South Australian team, held at Adelaide.
Awards and Achievements
This great rugby player bagged his first man of the match award during the ‘1982 State of Origin Series’.
1984 was one of the special years of this sportsman career, which earned him a lot of recognition. Not only did he receive two ‘Man of the Match’ awards in the ‘State of Origin series’, but was also felicitated with the ‘Golden Boot Award’ for being the ‘World’s Best international Player’.
In one of the games of the ‘1985 State of Origin Series’, Lewis won the man of the match award, though his team lost the contest. This made him the second man in the history of the game, back then, to earn such an honour.
Wally was honoured with the ‘Australian Sports Medal’ in the year 2000 for his contribution towards the sport.
Personal Life & Legacy
Wally tied the knot with a woman named Jacqueline, whom he had first met as a child. The couple have three children, namely Lincoln, Mitchell and Jamie-Lee.
While their son Lincoln created waves in the television circuit as an actor, daughter Jamie proved her prowess as a Water-polo player. His second son, Mitchell works at an FM radio station.
This legendary rugby player fell prey to Epilepsy and even had to undergo a surgery in February 2007, to get rid of this ailment.
In 2009, Lewis penned his autobiography titled ‘Out of the Shadows: A Champion’s Return to The Spotlight’.
A bronze statue of this rugby player has been installed at the Lang Park stadium in Brisbane, in honour of his talent.