'Magnificent Seven' instigator among Rugby's Australia Day Honours recipients

by Rugby Australia

Former Wallaby Anthony Abrahams, one of the main instigators of a player-led boycott of a South African Rugby tour at the height of apartheid is one of four members of the Australian Rugby community to receive 2020 Australia Day Honours.

Now 75 and residing in Bellevue Hill, Sydney, ‘Tony’ Abrahams was a towering lock who played three Tests for the Wallabies between 1967-69. The University of Sydney Arts/Law graduate made his Test debut against Wales in 1967 before departing on the Wallaby Tour to South Africa, little realising that he would not return home for 25 years.

Abrahams became concerned about the morality of touring South Africa while the apartheid regime remained in place, and decided to tour the country himself, and then further into southern Africa as he became increasingly concerned at the political landscape on the continent.

By 1970 he had moved to France, but, when the South African team was due to tour Australia in 1971, he and six other Wallabies players launched a campaign to prevent the Springboks from touring.

The players, who faced heavy backlash for boycotting the tour, years later would be honoured with the Medal of Freedom by South African President, Nelson Mandela for their courage in standing up against apartheid. That group became known as Rugby’s ‘Magnificent Seven’.

Abrahams today received Membership in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to Law, while three other members of the Rugby family received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to their communities

.Former Avoca Beach Rugby Club President, Life Member and Patron, Andrew Hoban was awarded an OAM for services to lifesaving.

Kincumber resident and former Gosford Rugby Club player and sponsor, David Booth received his OAM for services to the community of Gosford.

Former Penrith Emus Rugby Club Volunteer and Treasurer, Dennis Sales collected his for services to tennis.

Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “Rugby Australia pays tribute to these four members of the Rugby community that have received the ultimate recognition for services to their country and communities today.

“The story of the Magnificent Seven is one that we are incredibly proud of in our sport and we congratulate Anthony for his award today and once again pay our thanks to that special group of men who personified the values of inclusion and respect that are the very fabric of our game.

“We are proud of all of our Honours recipients and thank them for the work they have done and continue to do to support and grow the game of Rugby in their local districts.”