Bond University’s first rugby premiership side – the 1990 Colts team in the Gold Coast competition. John Massey is back row, second from right (white shirt).
By Pat McLeod
John ‘Wally’ Massey can’t remember the score when Bond Colts defeated Eagles and collected the university’s first piece of rugby silverware back in 1990, but he knows that result has formed a key element of the current club’s DNA.
Massey was young enough, but says he just wasn’t quite good enough, to play in that inaugural Bond premiership side. He was 19 and the team’s assistant manager.
“It was a long time ago, but I think it was a very close game. And I think fullback Andrew Crooke kicked a late penalty to win it for us,” he recalls. “I am sure somebody will know at Saturday’s reunion.”
The reunion of those involved in that stellar day in Bond University Rugby history is one highlight of this Saturday’s home clash against Premier Grade ladder leaders University of Queensland at The Canal.
The First Grade match will be contested for the annual Brailsford-Brown Varsity Cup, amid celebrations of Indigenous culture.
Massey, who played Third Grade for Bond from 1990 to 1995, is extremely proud of the status that 1990 Colts team now commands and of his continued association with Bond, as a former rugby player and student at the university.
“Definitely, there’s a lot of pride here - pride in the university and pride in the rugby club,” he said.
“I am very proud that we were involved in something special that worked and did well. To win a premiership in just our second year is very special. That gives me tingles just thinking about it and the group of people who achieved it.
“When we were involved in the rugby club in those early days it was the same as being a new student at Bond Uni. We saw the opportunity to be part of something that was new and innovative. So, there is immense pride 30 years later to see where the university and the rugby club are now placed.”
Toowoomba-based Massey began a commerce degree at Bond in 1990, just a year after the university first opened its doors to students. After completing that degree he returned more than a decade later to successfully undertake a law degree.
“My recollection is that the uni fielded a third grade side in that first year (1989) in the Gold Coast competition,” he said.
“By 1990 we had three senior grades and a colts team. I was just 19 back then and although I was young enough to play colts I was more of a Third Grade player. The colts team was very good … a lot of former TSS players.
“I was very happy to play Third Grade and to be the assistant manager of colts.
“Facilities then were pretty basic. We trained under car headlights and the ‘clubhouse’ was a donga. But even back then rugby was a big part of the university.”
Massey had a stint as secretary of the rugby club during those early years. He recalls plenty of highlights, including playing outside a long-time retired, former international Peter Grigg, who played several games for Bond Third Grade as a favour to then club president John Taylor.
Another highlight for Massey was a fleeting appearance in First Grade.
“I would often sit on the bench for Seconds after playing Thirds and would say that I would love to have a run in First Grade,” he says.
“The head coach at the time was kind enough to give me a run on the wing at the end of one Firsts game. I think it took me longer to get across to the other side of the field to run on then time spent actually on the field. But I played First Grade and that remains one of my proudest moments on a rugby field.”
Over the years Bond morphed into the Bond Pirates Rugby Club in the Gold Coast competition, an entity which still exists today.
In 2014, the Bond University Rugby Club was launched, taking over the mantle, from the Gold Coast Breakers, as the Gold Coast team in the Queensland Premier Rugby competition.
Massey said about 20 players from the 1990 Bond teams were expected on Saturday at The Canal, including six of the Colts’ premiership side.
“More had planned to come, but have been isolated by Covid,” he said.
Players from those early Bond years and from the latter Breakers/Bond Premier division era are invited to attend the reunion, which starts about 2.30pm on Saturday. For more information, contact: [email protected]
All six Bond teams will be playing on Saturday, against competition powerhouse, University of Queensland.
The First Grade will contest the Brailsford-Brown Varsity Cup, held by Bond and contested annually between the two university rugby clubs.
The Bond Rugby Club will also celebrate Indigenous culture as part of this weekend’s round of matches. A highlight will be First Grade wearing commemorative Indigenous jerseys designed by Bond University’s Indigenous Engagement Advisor, Narelle Urquhart.