Wallabies great and Rugby World Cup co-creator Sir Nicholas Shehadie has died

Matt King/Getty ImagesBarbarians captain Phil Waugh, Sir Nicholas Shehadie and Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock in 2009.

Former Wallaby, Sydney Lord Mayor and co-creator of the Rugby World Cup, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, has died. He was 92.

Sir Nicholas, husband of former NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir, played 30 tests for Australia in the 1940s and 1950s, and captained the side. He represented the country 114 times, becoming the first player with more than 100 caps. He was inducted into both the ARU Hall of Fame and the IRB Hall of Fame. He took part in tours of Great Britain, South Africa and New Zealand and became the first tourist to play for the Barbarians against his own team.

The son of Lebanese immigrants, he was born in Sydney beachside suburb of Coogee on November 15, 1925 and grew up in Redfern.

He made his first grade debut for the Randwick Rugby Club aged 15, playing 175 club games. In 1979, he became Chairman of NSW Rugby Union and the following year, President of the ARU. He acted as tour manager on the 1981-82 Wallabies tour of Britain and Ireland.

Sir Nicholas was instrumental in the push for a Rugby World Cup in the early 1980s and became joint chairman on the inaugural Rugby World Cup committee. He retired from the position after the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup.

Dennis Oulds/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesNicholas Shehadie during a British tour with the Australian national rugby team in 1957.

Sir Nicholas served as a City of Sydney Councillor between 1962-67 until he was dismissed from office following a boundary change. He stood for council again in 1969, became deputy mayor, oversaw the creating of Martin Place as a pedestrian area, and in 1973, became Lord Mayor of Sydney, continuing in the role until 1975.

He spent 29 years as a member of the SCG Trust, including his final 12 years as chairman, 1990–2001.

Sir Nicholas was made Chairman of the SBS in 1981, two years after the government-funded broadcaster first went to air, and remained on the board until 1999. He was also a Chairman of TAFE and the Migrant Employment and Qualification Board.

In 2011, Shehadie was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame for his role in creating the Rugby World Cup.

He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1971 for services to local government, then knighted in 1976 for his service as Lord Mayor of Sydney.

Among many other accolades, Sir Nicholas was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for services to the media, sport and community in 1990, and made a Knight of the Order of St John in 2001.

He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.

His autobiography, A Life Worth Living, was published in 2003.

Sir Nicholas was married Dame Marie Bashir for nearly 61 years. She was governor of NSW between 2001 and 2014.

He is survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren.

Broadcaster and former coach Alan Jones paid tribute to “a beautiful man” saying: “It’s going to leave a hole in the heart of many because people like Nick Shehadie don’t come along very often.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has offered her heartfelt condolences to the family of Sir Nicholas Shehadie AC OBE, who passed away last night.

“On behalf of the people of NSW, I extend my deepest sympathies to Sir Nicholas’s wife Dame Marie Bashir and his entire family,” she said.

“Sir Nicholas contributed so much to NSW across public life, sport, media and the community and will be deeply missed.

“Above all else Sir Nicholas was an inspiring, caring and compassionate person and was held in such high affection by so many across the State and nation, including myself.”

The NSW Government has offered his family a State funeral.

A range of people, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid had paid tribute to Sir Nicholas on Twitter.

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