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'Full and extraordinary life': AFL legend Ron Barassi dies aged 87

Ron Barassi. (Getty Images)
16th September, 2023

Australian rules football legend Ron Barassi has died, aged 87.

Barassi’s family confirmed the decorated former player and coach’s death on Saturday.

“After a full and extraordinary life, Ronald Dale Barassi, aged 87, left us today due to complications from a fall,” the statement said.

“He died peacefully, surrounded by loving family. We ask for privacy at this time.”

The first player to be inaugurated into the AFL Hall of Fame as a Legend – and one of just four Australian Rules footballers to achieve Legend status into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame – Barassi played 253 senior VFL games in his career, including 204 for Melbourne and 49 for Carlton.

Between playing and coaching, Barassi claimed 10 premierships at Melbourne, Carlton and North Melbourne, with two as Demons captain in 1960 and 1964.

But it is as a coach where Barassi’s most profound impact on the game came, with his role in Carlton’s inspired comeback from 44 points down at half time to win the 1970 grand final one of the then-VFL’s most iconic ever matches.

One of football’s greatest revolutionaries, among Barassi’s masterstrokes was a greater focus on handpassing over kicking, which still holds true in the modern game.


He also lends his name to the Barassi Line, a mythical line dividing the country between Australian Rules football and rugby league and union heartlands: Barassi’s stint as Sydney coach during the mid-1990s, while less successful than his previous coaching ventures, proved crucial in starting the Swans on the path to success.