Jeff Sayle

Jeff Sayle was a legend of Randwick Rugby Club. Photo: Randwick Rugby Facebook

The Australian Rugby community is mourning the passing of Jeffrey Leonard Sayle OAM, who passed away on Monday September 30, aged 77.

Jeff Sayle was regarded as ‘one of the most dedicated clubmen in Australian rugby history.’ He won a single Test cap in 1967 and played three matches for New South Wales. However at grassroots level Sayle fronted up for an incredible 379 club games, 160 of which were in first grade, for his beloved Randwick.

Sayle’s passion, his very life, was rugby. He was one of the few men who put more back into the game than he ever took.

Born in Sydney, Sayle attended Coogee Public School and Maroubra Bay High School but finished his formal education aged just 15. By that time he had already enjoyed seven years in Randwick’s
myrtle green. He played with the club’s juniors until 1962 when he was graded in Randwick thirds. Four years later Sayle played his first representative rugby, at flanker, for Sydney against the Australian Services at of all places Coogee Oval.

The following year he debuted for New South Wales against Victoria and then a couple of weeks later was part of the side which thumped Queensland 29-3 in the third interstate fixture. As a consequence the Australian side chosen to tour New Zealand was dominated by Waratahs and included several new faces, one of which was Jeff Sayle. With John O’Gorman retired and incumbent flanker Hugh Rose shifted to No.8, Sayle was selected to make his debut on the side of the scrum for the one-off Test to celebrate the New Zealand Union’s 75th Jubilee. Although that match marked the end of his representative career Sayle continued to play for Randwick until his retirement in 1982. He then enjoyed wonderful success as a coach of the club’s first grade side and led them to six Shute Shield premierships.

In 2006 Sayle was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia ‘for services to Rugby Union through the Randwick Rugby Union Club, and to surf lifesaving through the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club’. The
great David Campese said of Jeff Sayle: “I first met Sayle when I joined Randwick Rugby Club in 1987. He was the life and soul of the club and gave his life to rugby and all those involved. He was respectful of everyone and treated everyone the same, whether you [were] U8 or 1st Grade.”

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I first met Sayle when I joined @galloping_green Randwick Rugby Club in 1987. He was the life and soul of the club and gave his life to rugby and all those involved. He was respectful of everyone and treated everyone the same, whether you u8 or 1st Grade. He was such a character and on and off the field and we enjoyed many laughs and became became firm friends. I have fond memories of him at my wedding in South Africa, falling asleep by the pool after one too many schooners, waking up to bright red painted toenails, beautifully orchestrated by fellow Randwick mates @allenstutchbury and @damienmaree! His infectious laughter and his positive energy, even after a loss, helped me to learn to deal with failure and disappointment throughout my career. He was one of a kind…a legacy that will last forever in rugby circles worldwide. Till we meet again Sayle….. UP THE WICKS 👍🏻

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In 2015 Sayle was awarded the Nick Farr Jones Spirit of Rugby award at the John Eales medal dinner.

Jeff Sayle played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #510.

Wallabies Career Highlights

1967

Sayle won his first Test cap at flanker alongside captain Greg Davis and Hugh Rose in the 9-29 defeat to New Zealand at Athletic Park.

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