Looking back at the Adidas Wallabies, 1978-1988
There has been quite a deal of comment about American Industry Group (AIG) becoming the sponsored logo on the All Blacks jersey.
This cast my mind back to the first time Australian rugby had any sponsorship of significance attached to their uniform.
Back in 1977 the ARU was so destitute that it had not been able to either receive a national team to our shores or send a national team overseas. Consequently, for the last time to date, no Tests were played by the Wallabies in 1977. The next year, 1978, however, brought new hope to Australian rugby and a renewed bounce to the optimism of fans.
Firstly, the ARU signed a sponsorship deal with the famous clothing manufacturer Adidas, which saw the famous three stripes appear on both the jersey and shorts 1978-88. Then secondly, they appointed the innovative NSW Country coach Daryl Harberecht (pron. Harbright) as Wallabies coach.
Harberecht was famous for initiating the famous “up the jumper” tap penalty back in 1975.
Harberecht then stunned the rugby community by appointing Tony Shaw as Wallabies skipper over his Queensland teammate and captain Mark Loane. But Harberecht knew what he was doing.
Although Loane was an inspirational follow-me-lads kind of leader, he was also dogmatic and somewhat inflexible in his philosophy. Shaw on the other hand was gregarious, inclusive and a run-through-brick-walls, equally inspirational type of leader.
Significantly for Harberecht, he saw Shaw as more flexible and innovative and that’s what he wanted from his captain. It was an excellent choice because Shaw was the Ian Chappell of rugby, sharing a similar philosophy with Chappelli whereby off-field socialising and mentoring was crucial in developing on-field harmony and success, but I digress (although informatively, I trust).
In any case, an outstanding array of rugby talent appeared in the Adidas Wallabies strip between 1878 to 1988. Indeed, some of the greatest players of Australian rugby passed through this 11-year era.
Success during this time includes the Bledisloe Cup one-off win of 1979; the BC series win of 1980 and 1886; and the Grand Slam tour of 1984 among other notable wins. If I had to pick a 22-man squad from all the wonderful Wallabies who appeared during this time, this is it:
15 – Roger Gould, b.1957, 25 Tests 1980-87.
14 – David Campese, b.1962, 101 Tests 1982-96.
13 – Michael O’Connor, b.1960, 12 Tests 1979-82 (and 18 Tests Kangaroos 1986-90).
12 – Michael Lynagh, b.1963, 72 Tets 1984-95.
11 – Brendan Moon, b.1958, 35 Tests 1978-86.
10 – Mark Ella, b.1959, 25 Tests 1980-84.
9 – Nick Farr-Jones, b.1962, 63 Tests 1984-93.
8 – Mark Loane, b.1954, 28 Tests 1973-82.
7 – Simon Poidevin, b.1958, 59 Tests 1980-91.
6 – Greg Cornelsen, b.1952, 25 Tests 1974-82.
5 – Steve Cutler, b.1960, 40 Tests 1982-91.
4 – Steve Williams, b.1958, 28 Tests 1980-85.
3 – Andy McIntyre, b.1955, 38 Tests 1982-1989.
2 – Tom Lawton, 1962, 41 Tests 1983-89.
1- Topo Rodriguez, b.1952, 26 Tests 1984-87 (and 23 Tests Pumas/Jaguars 1978-83).
22 – Andrew Slack, b.1955, 39 Tests 1978-87.
21 – Paul McLean, b.1953, 30 Tests 1974-82.
20 – John Hipwell, b.1948, 36 Tests 1968-82.
19 – Tony Shaw, b.1953, 36 Tests 1974-82.
18 – David Hillhouse, b.1955, 18 Tests 1975-83.
17 – Tony D’Arcy, b.1958, 10 Tests 1980-82.
16 – Billy Ross, b.1956, 13 Tests 1979-83.
Just to give you an idea of the depth of talent during this time, here’s a back-up 22: Laurie Monaghan, Peter Grigg, Brett Papworth, Geoff Shaw, Matt Burke, Mike Hawker, Brian Smith, Steve Tuynman, Jeff Miller, David Codey, Peter McLean, Garrick Fay, Stan Pilecki, Mark McBain, Mark Hartill.
Bench: Glen Ella, Gary Ella, Phil Cox, Chris Roche, Duncan Hall, John Meadows, Peter Horton.
Other players worthy of mention are: Mitchell Cox, Lloyd Walker, Rod Hauser, Peter Lucas, Gary Pearse, Chris Handy and Chris Carberry.
As you can see, there were some awesome players come out of this period. What do other readers whose memories date back to this time think? Do you agree with my selections?
I used to think I was a pretty good rugby lock, but now realise I was deluded. My nickname is a truncation of my surname, so I'm not Arabic - phew! However, sometimes I imagine myself as a Beau Geste in the French Foreign Legion, fighting evil, righting wrongs, promoting good and rescuing damsels in distress.
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