Vale David BrockhoffAustralian Rugby is mourning the passing of one of the greats of the game; former Wallaby player and then coach David (Dave) Brockhoff. A Wallaby flanker through 26 matches, including eight Tests, between 1949 and 1953; ‘Brock’ as he was affectionately and almost universally known, later coached the Wallabies for six consecutive years between 1974 and 1979. He also played for New South Wales between 1949 and 1954.
Mr Brockhoff was elected as a life member of the Australian Rugby Union in 2004, and remained enthusiastically involved in the game almost up until the time of his death, being a regular at both Wallabies and NSW Waratahs training sessions, as well as a familiar face at the airport when either side was either departing for, or returning from, an overseas tour. His contribution to the game was again recognised last year when he was anointed as one of the game’s statesmen.
During his time as a player, Mr Brockhoff shared in Australia’s Bledisloe Cup-winning-series success in New Zealand in 1949, appearing in 10 of the 12 matches as well as both Tests of a series that the Wallabies won 2-nil. He then featured on the tour of South Africa in 1953, which was his final expedition as part of the Wallaby side, appearing in 10 of the 27 games but missing out on selection in the Test side.
Born in Sydney’s Rose Bay, Mr Brockoff was educated at The Scots College, Sydney, where he appeared in the first XV for three straight years. Later enrolled at Sydney University, Mr Brockoff gained blues in rugby union through four consecutive years from 1948 to 1951, playing 95 games for the University club before he joined Eastern Suburbs in 1953. Mr Brockhoff played on after his time with the Wallabies concluded, offering faithful service as a player with Easts through until 1961.
His love affair with the game then found its way into the coaching sphere, firstly with the Eastern Suburbs fourth grade side in 1963, with whom he won the premiership in his maiden season. Various coaching roles followed, with Mr Brockhoff returning to University in 1967 where he guided the club’s first grade side to the final.
A year later, Uni beat Manly in the premiership decider (1968), and won the title again in 1972, with Mr Brockhoff continuing in his role with the club until 1974 when he was invited to coach the Wallabies. He held that post for six consecutive seasons with his tenure concluding in memorable circumstances when Australia beat New Zealand 12-6 in a one-off Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground to regain the Bledisloe Cup. That success allowed Australia to secure the silverware for the first time since Mr Brockhoff had featured as a player in the 1949 success in New Zealand. That game is generally regarded – on both sides of the Tasman - as the starting point of the much closer modern rivalry for the Bledisloe Cup.
Mr Brockhoff, who was 83 when he passed away, is survived by his wife Claire, sons John and Peter and daughter Julia.