Vale Wallaby Warwick Arthur Watkins

by Rugby Australia

The Rugby community is mourning following the loss of Wallaby, Warwick Arthur Watkins.

Watkins qualifies as a Wallaby given that he was an unused replacement in three Test matches, sitting on the bench behind Queensland’s Bill Ross in all three Tests of the famous home series against New Zealand in 1980 - Australia’s first ever successful defence of the Bledisloe Cup.

Born in Newcastle on February 8, 1950, Watkins was educated at Grafton High School and Hawkesbury Agricultural College.

From Hawkesbury, Watkins moved to Goulburn in the Southern Highlands from 1972-1975, where he won numerous premierships and was later named in their Team of the Century.

Returning to Armidale in 1975, Watkins was part of the all-conquering Armidale City team that won five premierships in a row in the late seventies and early eighties; a team which featured Watkins alongside fellow Wallabies Peter Horton, Glen Eisenhauer, Greg Cornelsen, John Hipwell, David Forsyth and Tony Stephens, a long-time friend of Watkins.

During this time, Watkins represented New England through ensuing Country weeks and moving onto NSW Country honours through 1978-1980, including as captain of the side in 1979 against Ireland at the Sydney Sports Ground. Later that same season, and in his second state game, Watkins was named vice-captain against Queensland at T.G Milner.

The following year, Watkins captained New South Wales Country on their successful tour of New Zealand however it was Randwick’s Bruce Malouf who wore the state’s No.2 jersey for the matches against Queensland and New Zealand. Despite that, Watkins was chosen to deputise behind Bill Ross for the subsequent three Test home series against the All Blacks.

Watkins (middle) as Captain of NSW Country Team that played  Ireland in 1979. Photo: SuppliedLater in 1980, Watkins played his final three state games, two of which came on the short tour to New Zealand - against Canterbury and mid-Canterbury - and then against Queensland at Ballymore.

Watkins played one last Country week for Central North in 1981 before retiring and moving into his successful Government career.

A quote from a 1979 article Horton (Queensland) v Watkins (NSW) clipping sums Warwick up “Two years ago my ambition was to represent Country and then to play for NSW. Now I’ve got one rung left and I won’t be satisfied until I’ve got to the top”

His unwavering determination and fight was sadly extinguished by cancer, Warwick is survived by his loving wife Elaine Watkins and children Jody, Penny and Peter and 6 grandkids.