The family of John Edward Thornett MBE invite relatives, friends and Rugby supporters to attend a Memorial Service in the Noble Stand Dining Room in the Noble Stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground beginning at 11am on Thursday 17th January.

It wishes to commemorate a wonderful life as a husband and father as well as a huge contribution to Rugby and the true spirit of the game.

Entrance is through Gate A off Driver Avenue.

Parking is available at a Wilson’s car park in the Entertainment Quarter opposite the Hordern Pavilion, a 300 metre walk to Gate A. There is metered parking in Driver Avenue.

John Edward Thornett

History books tell an amazing story.

Thorn played 37 Test matches in the 1950s and 1960s and toured eight times with the Wallabies, captaining the side on four of those tours as Australia grew into a power to be reckoned with in world rugby. He ended with 118 appearances for the Wallabies, which included 16 Tests as captain. He also played 21 representative matches for NSW.

Arguably the most versatile forward to have ever pulled on the gold jersey, Thorn packed down in four different positions during his 13-year international career, representing the Wallabies at flanker, lock and both tighthead and loosehead prop.

After retirement he continued to play for Northern Suburbs in the Sydney grade competition, where he amassed 126 matches and led the club to five grand finals.

I was very fortunate to be chief rugby writer for The Sydney Morning Herald during most of Thorn’s extensive career and travelled with the Wallabies several times, including the British Isles tour of 1966-67, where I grew to know him extremely well during those many months away. My impression always of Thorn was that of a very humble, modest and likeable person and a natural leader both on and off the field. Even after retirement he was always looked upon by those who played with him as being their leader.

His list of honours is rivalled by very few, earning induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (1985) and the Australian Rugby Hall of Fame (2005), as well as receiving the Australian Sports Medal (2000). In 2013, he was one of 11 legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, becoming the 63rd member of the code’s most exclusive club.

When his former Norths teammate John Braund and I visited he and Vivienne not all that long ago at their home on the South Coast, nothing had changed. While his health was deteriorating, he was still smiling, happy and just as nice as ever. He will always be remembered as Thorn, our captain.

– Jim Webster OAM