A Hundred Years of the Red Heavies : a celebration

New Acquisition – “A History of the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club: the First Hundred Years” / Peter Meares, John O’Hare and James Meaney. Edited by Vincent Creagh. Brisbane: University of Queensland Rugby Football Club, 2011

Recently staff in the State Library of Queensland were very pleased to accept a handsome two volume work which charts the hundred year history of the University of Queensland Rugby Club. Given its broad coverage and original content, this publication, presented by Gilbert Shearer on behalf of the authors, represents a significant addition to the Library’s holdings on the history of rugby in Queensland.

“A History of the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club” provides the reader with substantially more than a mere chronological account of 100 years of the “Red Heavies”, a significant sporting institution in a significant Australian University.  Between the covers of this work are captured the events and atmosphere of the University of Queensland Rugby Club from its foundation in 1911 to the present day. This work locates the Club’s significance in the history of Brisbane, Queensland and the Nation’s rugby developments in the midst of complex social change.  The Club’s history is certainly larger than the story of the rivalry with the Brothers Rugby Club although this theme too is given its rightful emphasis.

Rugby Union match at Exhibition Oval, Brisbane, 1956. University of Queensland defeated GPS 19-6 in the A Grade Grand Final. State Library of Queensland. Negative no. 185394  Gilbert Shearer presents “A History of the University of Queensland Rugby Football Club: the First Hundred Years” to the John Oxley Library on behalf of the authors

The authors have painted a detailed and intimate portrait on a wide canvas of 100 years of existence.  The brush strokes that define this history are at times necessarily broad and yet there is an intimacy provided by a plethora of photographic images and the clamour of voices in the form of quotes and stories from players, coaches and administrators that reconstruct the character and life of the Club through time.  It is a history of the Club as a whole and not just the elite players and teams (although they get plenty of attention and justly so – there are plenty of them).  From all the grades the voices are heard and images brought into view.

The Club’s trials and tribulations are neither avoided nor neglected.  I was pleased to see that the story was told of the Woman’s XV 2004 Grand Final triumph under unusual circumstances over Norths, the subsequent controversial disqualification and the handing back of the victor’s trophy.  Bill Hind and I coached that team and we all kept the victors’ pennants and the knowledge of who the real winners were.  Bill and I again joined forces to coach the Premiership winning Women’s team in 2006.

The task undertaken by the authors in finding, assembling and organising the data from a myriad of sources was clearly a huge effort and a labour of love.  It is an extremely difficult task to encompass a hundred years of a rugby club’s history in just two volumes.  There is no way to give each year its allotted weight and to include each and every person who helped shape the character of this club.  What can be done is to be faithful to the spirit of the records as they exist and to try to find a way to the heart the organisation.  The end result of the authors’ endeavours clearly demonstrates that Rugby is indeed “more than just a game”.
 
Alex Cutts – Senior Project Officer, Public and Indigenous Library Services, State Library of Queensland