Australian Rugby Pioneer Dies at 85


Rugby pioneer Lionel Morgan has died at the age of 85, multiple outlets reported.

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Morgan was the first Indigenous player to represent Australia in rugby league and “scored a double on debut against France in 1960 before playing two more Tests against the nation,” wrote the Daily Mail.

He later played 11 matches for Queensland between 1960-63.

“It was a fitting reward and left him proudly alongside the likes of Arthur Beetson, Johnathan Thurston and Steve Renouf,” Australian Rugby League commissioner Peter V’landys said in a statement.

“Lionel Morgan was a trailblazer. The Australian Rugby League Commission and everyone across the game will be very saddened by Lionel’s passing, but his legacy will remain forever.”

“He was and always will be an inspiration to many of our players.”

A moment of silence was observed before the Queensland Cup for both Morgan and former ARL coach John McDonald, who died last week.


“Morgan had been diagnosed with dementia, according to a May interview with son Earl Morgan.

“Born in the New South Wales’ border town of Tweed Heads, Morgan played his entire career in Queensland and was named the state’s best back after the 1962 season.

“Battling racism both on and off the field, Morgan wore the green and gold five years before Indigenous people were even allowed to vote in Queensland.”

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