Rugby Australia and the Australian Rugby community are mourning the loss of Brumbies Life Member Bob Hitchcock OAM, who passed away on Thursday aged 76.
An accomplished coach and administrator, Hitchcock served as a coach, coach educator, mentor, selector as well as a board member at both Club and State level over a 50-year association with the game.
Hitchcock joined Queanbeyan Rugby Union Club as a player after moving to the region and then later coached junior and senior teams over a decade-long period.
His coaching ability was evident as he was soon selected to lead the ACT Senior team as well as mentoring the Australian Under-21s, Emerging Wallabies as well as taking the Wallaroos to the first two Women’s Rugby World Cups in 1998 and 2002. Hitchcock also led the Australian Women's Sevens between 1990 and 2002, including tournaments in Hong Kong.
Administratively, Hitchcock developed and implemented the talent identification and development projects for local players and was involved with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) rugby scholarship program. He initiated and conducted the then-Australian Rugby Union’s Level 3 Coaching Program and was an accredited trainer for the International Rugby Board (World Rugby).
Hitchcock was twice recognised as ACT Rugby Coach of the Year and was awarded an Medal of the Order of Australia for services to Rugby, as well as being awarded Life Member status for both Queanbeyan Rugby Club and ACT Rugby Union.
Former Wallaby and Rugby Australia Board Director Brett Robinson said: “Bob was one of the very humble but major contributors to the turning of Australian Rugby in the professional era.
“He was at the centre of Rugby’s establishment of programs with the AIS in the late 80s and early 90’s, and the formation of our high performance pathway that led to our national talent (including Western Australia, Victoria and ACT) being identified and supported.
“Many of the players who benefited from this were part of the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cup wins.
“He lived for Rugby and is a legend of the game in his home town of Queanbeyan, across the ACT and Southern Inland region, where he devoted so much time into developing the game,” Robinson said.