Australia Day Honors: Former Canberra Raider and Rugby Australia Chairman Peter McGrath AM Recognized | The Canberra Times

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There was a time when Peter McGrath’s sports administration was as simple as a stairway in the park with the neighborhood kids. They had seen him play for the Canberra Raiders and they knew where he lived, so they knocked on the door to ask if he was willing to give back to non-competitive sports. Simple. McGrath committed himself for the same reason that led him on a path to decades of behind-the-scenes work. He wanted to make a difference, whether it was as simple as making kids laugh or as tough as leading Australian rugby. “I always wanted to leave a place better than when I started. Hopefully I have,” said the former Rugby Australia chairman. McGrath did, and so his contribution to the Rugby Union as an administrator and to tertiary education was recognized when he was made a Member of the Order of Australia. MORE CANBERRA SPORTS McGrath is a Raider foundation, scoring the Green Machine’s first points when they joined the NSWRL in 1982, but his biggest impact came first as a manager for the ACT Brumbies, then Rugby Australia and World Rugby. He was also an influential figure in tertiary education as a CIT board member from 2012, as well as various roles for YMCA Canberra, Daramalan College and Unisport Australia. “This is a wonderful award,” McGrath said. “I’m honored, but more so for all the people who helped me and I couldn’t have done what I did without the support of my family.” When I started [on the Brumbies board] someone said it would be an hour a month. I believed that, but I was still quite young. In the end it was a great time. “When I was playing, the kids were knocking on my door all the time and wanted a kick. Sport unites… it’s not just about what happens on the pitch, it’s about what happens around the team. It all has to come together.” I was born in Canberra, I am a proud Canberrean and that reflects my upbringing with my mother [Joan], my father [Jim] and my stepdad [Stan]. I inherited their desire to make the community better.” McGrath considers the Brumbies’ breakthrough title in 2001 and the success of the Wallabies Tri Nations in 2011 were two of the standout memories of his time in the rugby administration. Both the Brumbies and the However, Wallabies have struggled for the past decade on and off the pitch, both facing difficult financial constraints and issues with audience and engagement. McGrath says it’s unfair to compare the past but hopes rugby can recapture what worked well for the game during a golden era after turned pro in 1996. “People must be attracted to the game, we lost so many people because we went through a period of winning football, but boring football,” McGrath said. do not pay. and get bored. They want to run away and think, oh, how good was that? “We have a fair way to go as a game. But if they can get the boardroom and the base right, the rest will follow.” MORE AUSTRALI DAY HONORS: McGrath has since plunged into the tertiary sector with the same passion he showed throughout his playing and board careers in the sport. “I don’t believe CIT could have coped with COVID without the transformation the CEO led,” McGrath said. “The organization is resilient and flexible, and CIT continues to evolve. “I firmly believe that we need to better leverage our community and its skills and retrain effectively. We have a problem with an aging population. We need to use that population better than we do, and that’s one of the good things that comes out of COVID is there’s demand and we just need to educate people better.” “Being 55 doesn’t mean the end of life. CIT plays a vital role in that.” Our journalists work hard to bring local, current news to the community, so you can continue to have access to our trusted content:


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