Former Wallabies captain named Qld Education Week patron

Patron of this year's Queensland Catholic Education Week, former Australian Rugby Union captain and state legend, Andrew Slack, says he is grateful for his Catholic schooling and his introduction to rugby at a Brisbane Catholic school.

The Villanova College, Brisbane old boy, who also taught at the school for six years, is perhaps best remembered for his role in captaining the Wallabies to an historic grand slam victory tour of the British Isles in 1984, says he is delighted to have been invited to be patron of the week of celebrations.

"My own education at Catholic schools is something I cherish and am very grateful for," he said.

"Firstly at St Bernard's and St Agnes's Convents at Mt Gravatt and then at Villanova College, I was offered wonderful opportunities to develop whatever talents I had.

"As my grade four teacher when I first arrived at Villanova, Br Clarkson (now an Anglican priest in Tasmania) provided the perfect introduction. Not only did he introduce me to rugby by throwing me into the Tyrannosaurus Rex team which enjoyed some memorable victories over Brontosaurus Rex, he also set a wonderful example for what Villa was to prove to be in my eyes. A place that cared for all, no matter their strengths or weaknesses."

"Not surprisingly, there was the odd hiccup in the ensuing years but there was always the underlying current that each boy was special in his own right and had something worthwhile to offer."

"My faith and spirituality is also very important to me and I am grateful for the nurturing of this I received at Villanova," he said.

"I believe the special values and faith based education offered by Catholic schools provides an important option for Queensland families."

In total, Andrew Slack captained the Wallabies 19 times in 39 test caps between 1978 and 1987. Until recently being overtaken by Mark Connors, he was the Queensland Reds most capped player turning out 133 times for his home state.

These days Andrew is best known as a sports journalist with Channel Nine in Brisbane and a rugby columnist.

Of the current generation of Wallabies, Andrew is optimistic about the team's prospects at next year's World Cup.

"I think things are coming together well," he said. "New coach John Connolly is vastly experienced and knows what it takes. There are some great young players coming through and good depth in Australian rugby at present."

Andrew Slack will be the guest speaker at the official launch of Catholic Education Week 2006 to be held at his alma mater Villanova College on 24 July.

"I am delighted to have been invited to be patron of Catholic Education Week in Queensland in 2006 and wish Catholic school communities around the state all the very best for a great week of celebrations," he said.

Queensland's 286 Catholic Education Week, themed "It's all about the Spirit," starts on 23 July.

Rugby Legend Gets Behind Catholic Education Week (QCEC 14/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Front and centre (Australian Catholics, Summer 2002)

17 Jul 2006