Rugby League in Australia is mourning the loss of former Vice President and veteran administrator John O’Toole OAM, M.B.E, who passed away recently.

O’Toole spent over 60 years involved in the game of Rugby League, initially as a player with the Bathurst Railway Club, and in subsequent years as a Committee Member, General Manager and Vice President in numerous organisations.

Up until 2008 he still held the post of vice-president of the NSW Rugby League while he was also a member of the NSW Leagues’ Club board.

ARL Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Geoff Carr, said today that John would be missed by everyone associated with the game.

“When you look at his record and the positions he has held over a long period of time it starts to put into perspective the influence he had on the growth of Rugby League at every level,” Mr Carr said.

NRL Chief Executive Officer, Mr. David Gallop, said O’Toole’s lifetime dedication to Rugby League helped create many of the opportunities we enjoy in the game today.

“He was a very significant figure in the Country Rugby League and he was also someone whose passion and policy direction extended to national and international arenas,” Mr. Gallop said.

In 1955 O’Toole was appointed secretary to the Country Rugby League and maintained that position, later named General Manager, up until the end of 1990.

One of O’Toole’s biggest achievements was securing the longest-ever sponsorship arrangement within the Australian Rugby League through Caltex.

O’Toole became a member of the Australian Rugby League in 1956, holding the position until 1992, and served under ARL chairmen such as Harry ‘Jersey’ Flegg, Bill Buckley, Kevin Humphries, Ton McAuliffe and Ken Arthurson.

Although devoting countless hours to the running of the game O’Toole somehow managed to squeeze in some other highlights.

He managed the Australian World Cup team to England and France in 1960, as well as the NSW team in Queensland in 1956 and the Country teams in Sydney in 1952.

He was a Life Member of the ARL, NSWRL, CRL, Bathurst Rugby League and Newcastle Rugby League.

O’Toole was also made a member of the British Empire for services to the sport in 1978 and that was followed by an Order of Australia Medal in 1988 for services to the community.

Country Rugby League General Manager Mr. Terry Quinn says O’Toole’s list of achievements in the game of Rugby League is one to be lauded.

“John’s passing is a sad day for Rugby League in New South Wales,” Mr. Quinn said.

“He was truly a great servant of the game and our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family at this time.”

The O’Toole family have asked that in lieu of gifts that donations be made to Bear Cottage P.O Box 2500, Manly, NSW 2095.