Rugby - Trailblazing Aboriginal Wallaby McDermott dies aged 79


  • Rugby
  • Sunday, 7 Apr 2019

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Lloyd McDermott, one of the first indigenous Australians to play for the Wallabies and the nation's first Aboriginal barrister, has died aged 79, Rugby Australia said on Sunday.

A pacy winger, McDermott won two caps against New Zealand in 1962 but refused to tour apartheid South Africa the following year as an "honorary white" and switched codes to rugby league.

Along with his career in the law, McDermott worked throughout his life to encourage indigenous youth to play rugby union, in later years through his eponymous development team the "Lloydies".

"His legacy is not just his work in promoting sport to young people it is also about equality in opportunities for young people," said Gary Ella, who now runs the team.

"The ... team's objectives are based on Lloyd’s leadership of creating education and opportunities for young people and supporting them to make positive lifestyle decisions.

"Lloyd's work has positively influenced thousands of young Indigenous people around Australia.  "A proud but humble man, he refused to accept Australia Day honours on several occasions until the rights of Aboriginal people were recognised. We will miss a close friend and we are inspired to continue our work."

The three Ella brothers, Gary, Mark and Glenn, all played for Australia and make up a fifth of the indigenous Wallabies in over 120 years of test rugby for the nation.

Cecil Ramalli, the son of an Indian father and Aboriginal mother who played two tests in 1938, is widely acknowledged as the first Wallaby of indigenous heritage.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)