Australia Day honors: Former Canberra Raider and Rugby Australia chairman Peter McGrath AM recognized | The Canberra Times

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There was a time when Peter McGrath’s sporting administration was as simple as a kick at the park with the neighborhood children. They’d seen him play for the Canberra Raiders and they knew where he lived, so they knocked on the door to ask if he was willing to give back to sport away from the competitions. Easy. McGrath obliged for the same reason that led him down a path to decades of work behind the scenes. He wanted to make a difference, be it simple as making kids smile or as tough as leading Australian rugby. “I always wanted to leave a place better than when I started. Hopefully I’ve done that,” the former Rugby Australia chairman said. McGrath did, which is why his contribution to rugby union as an administrator and to tertiary education was recognized when he was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia. MORE CANBERRA SPORT McGrath is a foundation Raider and scored the Green Machine’s first points when they joined the NSWRL in 1982, but his biggest impact came as an administrator first for the ACT Brumbies, then Rugby Australia and World Rugby. He has also been an influential figure in tertiary education as a CIT board member since 2012 as well as various roles for YMCA Canberra, Daramalan College and Unisport Australia. “This is a wonderful accolade,” McGrath said. “I feel honored, but more for all the people that helped me and I could not have done what I did without the support of my family.” When I started [on the Brumbies board] someone said it would be an hour a month. I believed that, but I was pretty young. In the end it was an amazing time. “When I was playing kids would knock on my door all the time and want to go for a kick. Sport is unifying … it’s not just about what happens on the field, it’s about what happens around the team. It’s all got to come together. “I was born in Canberra, I’m a proud Canberran and that’s reflective of my upbringing with my mum [Joan], my dad [Jim] and my stepdad [Stan]. I inherited their desire to make community better. “McGrath rates the Brumbies ‘breakthrough title in 2001 and the Wallabies’ Tri Nations success in 2011 were two of the standout memories from his time in rugby administration. Both the Brumbies and Wallabies, however, have struggled on and off the field for the past decade. Both are facing difficult financial constraints as well as crowd and engagement issues. McGrath says it’s unfair to compare the past, but hopes rugby can recapture what worked well for the game during a golden era after turning professional in 1996. “People need to be attracted to the game, we’ve lost so many people because we went through a period of playing winning football, but drab football,” McGrath said. “People do not want to pay go and be bored. They want to walk away and think gee, how good was that? “We’ve got a fair way to go as a game. But if they can get the boardroom and the basics right, the rest will follow.” MORE AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS: McGrath has since thrown himself into the tertiary sector with the same passion he showed during his playing and administration careers in sport. “I do not believe CIT would have been able to cope through COVID without the transformation the chief executive led,” McGrath said. “The organization is resilient and flexible, and CIT continues to evolve.” I firmly believe we have to better utilize our community, the skills and retrain effectively. We have an issue with an aging population. We have to use that population better than we do, and that’s one of the good things to come out of COVID is that there’s demand and we just have to train people better. “” Being 55 does not mean the end of life. CIT plays a pivotal part in that. “Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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