The Rugby community is in mourning after the passing of larger-than-life Randwick Rugby Club figure and one-Test Wallaby, Jeff Sayle.
Sayle passed away peacefully on Monday night after a long and courageous health battle, aged 77.The Wallabies flanker was a much-loved figure across the game, the “heart and soul” of the Randwick Rugby Club, and a lifetime devotee to his local community.
A ten-time Premiership winner with the ‘Galloping Greens’ (four as a player, and six as a coach), Sayle was capped in one Test for the Wallabies in 1967 against the All Blacks in Wellington to go with three matches for New South Wales.
While there was much to be celebrated in his brief representative career, it was in his beloved myrtle green jersey that Sayle made his proudest memories. He fronted up in 379 club games - 160 of which were in first grade.
Born in Sydney, he attended Coogee Public School and Maroubra Bay High School but finished his formal education aged just 15. By that time, he had already enjoyed seven years in a Randwick jersey.
After finally hanging up his boots in 1982, he earned legendary status as a Coach steering Randwick’s first grade side to six Shute Shield titles and nurturing some of the greatest talent Australian Rugby has ever seen in the Ella Brothers, Simon Poidevin and David Campese.
He later served as the club’s treasurer, secretary and President, and was club patron from 2003 as well as being made a life member.
In 2006 Sayle was awarded a Medial of the Order of Australia for services to Rugby Union through the Randwick Rugby Club, and to surf lifesaving through the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club. So famous was Sayle in Sydney’s east, he even had a beer “Sayle Ale” named after him.
The much-loved larrikin gave a memorable speech when he was awarded the Nick Farr Jones Spirit of Rugby award at the John Eales Medal in 2015, where his renowned humour and passion for Rugby was on full display as Rugby Australia celebrated his life and contribution to the game.
Tributes have poured in since Sayle’s passing, pointing to his unparalleled love for the game and for the club he devoted his life to.
Jeffrey Sayle will forever be Wallaby number 510