Mark Ella Elevated to Legend Status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame

Mon, Oct 16, 2023, 2:26 AM
Rugby Australia
by Rugby Australia

Wallaby great Mark Ella has today AM has been recognised with the nation's most prestigious sporting honour at a Sport Australia Hall of Fame event in Sydney on October 16.

The revered rugby union five-eighth join triple-Brownlow Medal-winning footballer Bob Skilton and seven-time world champion surfer Layne Beachley AO as this year's Sport Australia Hall of Fame Legends.

The annual Elevation of Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members to Legend status is the most celebrated honour that can be bestowed on an Australian athlete, coach or administrator.

Legend status provides the chance to honour Members who have distinguished themselves at the highest level of their sport and become a part of Australia’s rich sporting folklore.

Fellow Legend and SAHOF chair John Bertrand AO said the contribution of Ella and Beachley, both as athletes and inspirations during and after their careers, to Australian sport was meritorious.

He said the revered athletes were logical nominations to be Elevated to Legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame alongside Skilton, who was recognised at a special family gathering in September.

“The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is delighted to honour Layne and Mark as Legends of their nation given their contribution to their chosen sports during and after their careers,” he said.

“It is a mark of their excellence and also the respect with which they are held in their respective sports, and more broadly across Australia, that their deeds are still held in awe.

“Similarly to the legacy of Bob Skilton in Australian football, both Mark and Layne were distinguished representatives of their sport who inspired others to follow in their footsteps.” Sport Australia Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chair, Bruce McAvaney OAM, said:

To be elevated from Sport Australia Hall of Fame member to legend status is arguably the highest honour to be bestowed in Australian sport

Layne Beachley is a pioneer whose domination set the standard for all those to follow and has played a significant role in the promotion and popularity of the sport. 

Mark Ella is a proud member of one of Australia’s most gifted sporting families. His career was comparatively brief but his genius remains an inspiration for all who play the game they say was made in heaven.

Bobby Skilton is perfectly qualified. An iconic rover, he’s one of only four players in the history of Australian Rules Football to win the Brownlow Medal on three occasions. He made the number 14 guernsey for the Swans one of the most cherished in the AFL world.”EndFragment

Mark Ella praised the new trophy launch as representation of Indigenous history in rugby union. Photo: Getty Images

Ella is recognised as one of Australian rugby’s most influential figures after shining in a spectacular, though relatively brief, career on the world stage before his retirement in 1984.

A 25 Test representative for Australia, Ella had the distinction of leading the Wallabies on 10 occasions and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an Athlete member in 1987.

Ella, whose brothers Garry and Glen also represented their nation in rugby union, was considered a trailblazer who flashed like a comet across the sky in his brief career.

His elevation to the captaincy of the Wallabies in 1982, and his confirmation as the Young Australian of the Year, inspired the nation’s Indigenous community.

In an astonishing tour of Great Britain in 1984, Ella scored a try in each of Australia’s four successful Test wins over England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, which was unprecedented.

Although it is almost 40 years since his final Test as a Wallaby, Ella said his memories of the time remain vivid and that he is thrilled to be elevated as a Legend in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

“I’ve been off the rugby field for quite a long time now and you often don’t think yourself worthy of such accolades,” he said.

“I was excited when I realised what was happening.

“There’s no comparison to how the game is played now, I was so lucky to have the opportunity to play with the team I had and to have influence on the way we played.”

*Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members must be retired for 15 years before being considered for Elevation to Legend status and is voted by the SAHOF Board based on recommendations by the Selection Committee for the organisation.