Former St George four time premiership winning halfback George Evans passed away peacefully on 25 December 2015.
Born, 28 January 1941
Passed Away, 25 December 2015
Rugby League lost a humble and caring man when George Evans passed away on Christmas Day.
The talented halfback played in four successive Grand Finals from 1962 with the great St. George team. His team-mates included Immortals and Team of the Century members Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper and Graeme Langlands.
In the 1962 Grand Final his five eighth was Raper, who replaced the injured Brian Clay. In wet conditions, St. George beat Wests 9-6. The next year, the two sides again met in the Grand Final and George scored the Dragons first try in the 8-3 win. This was the Grand Final when the historic photo named “the Gladiators” was taken. Herald photographer, John O’Gready took a photo of the rival captains, Norm Provan and Arthur Summons arm in arm while covered in mud. St. George won all three grades in 1963. In the 1964 Grand Final, St. George defeated Balmain 11-6, while in 1965 they beat South Sydney 12-8. In the 1965 Grand Final a record crowd of 78,056 packed the Sydney Cricket Ground but authorities estimated there were many more at the game, with fans perched on grandstand rooftops and any other vantage points they could use.
A Sydney High student, George’s mother would not let him play a physical game like rugby until he was in his last year of school. This was 1957 and playing alongside him in the High Rugby Union team was 1991 World Cup winning Wallaby coach, Bob Dwyer. He joined the St. George Rugby Union club when he left school in 1958 and after beginning in fourth grade, he became a regular first grader in 1960. That same year he represented NSW at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground on 9 July 1960 in the 34-23 win over Queensland. Michael Cleary scored three tries for NSW in this win, while John Thornett was the captain.
In 1961, George was reserve for Australia in four Tests, behind Ken Catchpole, three against Fiji and one against France. At the end of 1961, he changed to League with the Dragons and made his first grade debut at the old Sydney Sports Ground in the 39-5 thrashing of South Sydney on 5 August 1962. The talented halfback retained his place for the remainder of the season, culminating in the Grand Final victory. His first top grade try came in the opening competition match of 1963 at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 6 April in the 51-2 belting of Parramatta. That year, on 2 July at the SCG, George was in the Dragons side who defeated the touring New Zealanders 22-7. George played 19 of St. George’s 21 first grade games in 1963.
When St.George’s 11 successive Premierships ended in 1967, after they were beaten 12-11 in the preliminary final by Canterbury on 9 September, George came on as a centre to replace the injured Langlands seven minutes before halftime but moved into halfback for the second half. He remained with the Dragons until the end of the 1968 season, finishing with 68 first grade games and 11 tries. In 13 big end of season games (Grand Finals, semi finals etc), George scored four tries.
Moving to the Corrimal club as captain/coach in 1969, George led the Cougars to at least the semi finals in his three seasons. In 1971, under George, Corrimal won their first ever Illawarra club championship. Before he arrived at Corrimal, the club had been at the bottom end of the competition for many years and had not played in the first grade semi finals since 1957. While with Corrimal, George represented Illawarra in the 1970 country Championship. He retired from playing at the end of the 1971 season but was non-playing coach of Northern Suburbs in 1974 and 1975.
George is survived by his wife Denise and his children Peter and Jodie and their families. His funeral will be held at Parsons Funeral Parlour, 278 Princes Highway, Bulli on Monday 4 January at midday.
A well loved man, George will be sadly missed by his family and many friends.The family have requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
Men of League Foundation express our sincere condolences to George’s wife Denise and the family.