VALE – BRIAN JAMES
Born: 9 April 1943 Passed Away: 10 January 2020.
Men of League Foundation member #16.
Men of League Director 2003-2013.
Rugby League lost a true gentleman when Brian James died in a tragic accident on his farm near Capertree on Friday 10 January. He was 76. Born at Blakehurst in Sydney, Brian began playing Rugby League at primary school but switched to Rugby Union while a student at Newington College from 1955 to 1960. At Newington, he was a member of the strong first XV for two seasons and represented the combined GPS first XV in 1960. After he left Newington, he played a season of first grade Rugby Union with St. George, aged 18 and switched to Rugby League with the Dragons the next season. Leichhardt Oval on 23 June 1962, was the venue for Brian’s first-grade debut in the 16-all draw with Balmain. His first top grade try came at Kogarah Oval on 26 May 1963 in the 26-7 win over North Sydney. In four seasons at Kogarah, Brian played 16 first grade matches, scoring five tries. He also played in three successive reserve grade Grand Final wins from 1962. In 1962, he scored three tries in the 19-0 win over Wests, in 1963, St. George beat Souths 5-4 and in 1964, St. George again beat Souths, this time 7-2, with Brian scoring the only try of the game. While with St. George, he completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of NSW.
South Sydney was very aware of his ability and they signed him for the 1966 season. With the Rabbits, he played 79 first grade matches and scored 32 tries. He was also a member of the winning 1967 and 1968 Grand Final teams. In 1967, Souths beat Canterbury 12-10, while in 1968, they defeated Manly 13-9. In the 1969 decider, Souths were beaten 11-2 by Balmain and in this clash, Brian crossed in the corner but was ruled to have touched the corner post in a touch and go decision. He played for City Seconds in 1967, while in 1968, he represented City firsts, NSW in two matches against Queensland and the Australian team which won the 1968 World Cup under the captain, Johnny Raper. Brian played his only Test at Lang Park, Brisbane on 8 June 1968 in the 37-4 win over France. While at Souths Brian and club Patron, Jack Thom, organised the first official touch football tournament. It took place at Redfern Oval on 9 February 1968 and all proceeds were given to the Spastic Centre. He was made a Life Member of the South Sydney Rugby League Club on 30 June 2002. At the end of the 1969 season, Brian retired and began working in transport and logistics.
A prominent professional runner from 1962 to 1969, Brian travelled throughout Australia to run at various sprinting gifts and gained several second and third placings. All in Rugby League send their sincere condolences to Brian’s wife Liz and his three sons, Dominic, Justin and Julian.