Former Wallaby Lloyd McDermott dies at 79
SYDNEY (AP) — Lloyd McDermott, who played two tests for the Wallabies before sensationally refusing to tour apartheid-era South Africa, has died at his Sydney home on Saturday. He was 79.
McDermott was among the first Aboriginal players to represent Australia at rugby, but is perhaps best known for his public stand against the apartheid regime in South Africa when he declined the opportunity to tour there in 1963.
“The Rugby community is deeply saddened by the news of Lloyd’s passing, however, his impact on the sport will never be lost and his name will never fade. He was an extraordinary man,” Rugby Australia chief executive officer Raelene Castle said. “Through his exploits on the field and in particular for what he did for First Nations people both during his playing career and beyond, he has enriched the lives of so many and provided inspiration and opportunity for thousands of Indigenous Australians.”
A notable school athlete from Brisbane, McDermott played two tests for the Wallabies, making his debut against New Zealand in 1962.
A year later, McDermott ended his international rugby career by refusing an invitation to tour South Africa with the Wallabies as an ‘honorary white’, which was a precondition for being allowed to compete against the then all-white Springboks in the apartheid era.
McDermott went on to study law and was admitted as a barrister in 1972, the first Aboriginal to do so.
He also founded the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team which aims to improve indigenous participation in rugby.
“Lloyd will be sorely missed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” former Wallabies center and president of the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, Gary Ella said. “His legacy is not just his work in promoting sport to young people it is also about equality in opportunities for young people.