Almanac Rugby League – Bruce Hatcher, Ross Oakley and Arthur Moynihan



OK then, Sesame Street buffs, here we go pursuant to the above title.


“One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong. Can you guess which one is not like the other by the time I finish my song?”


Two disclaimers to start with.


First, I know next to nothing about NRL apart from the fact that thoroughly admirable people like Ian Hauser along with miscellaneous dual code Vicar of Brae types (yes John Harms, I’m looking at you) seem to like it for reasons of their own.


Secondly, the only bit of the “next to nothing” part I must ‘fess up to is a soft spot for South Sydney. You see, unlike a modern day Russell Crowe or an Anthony Albanese, I first learnt of the Rabbitohs from my late 1960s Chanel College Geelong boarding school housemaster Father Arthur Moynihan (1924-2001) of the Marist Fathers.


Arthur played many reserve grade games for South Sydney before playing just four senior games in 1949 as five-eighth (whatever/wherever that is) including the Grand Final. After finishing minor premiers, they were subsequently beaten by St George 19-12 in what Wikipedia describes as “a brutal encounter”.


We’ll never know the full connection but, some years later, he became a late vocation to the priesthood.


At school we were always curiously bemused that this very modest living, quietly spoken bloke was ever a rugby league grand finalist. Pottering around the school on weekends he’d even wear his old Rabbitohs jumper.


Back then when rugby league was next to totally invisible in Victoria, we arrogant VFL following young fellas would always be dismissive of the “one man pushes two men’s heads up three men’s bums” code but we would never let Arthur hear us lest it offend a very decent bloke.


We would laugh behind his back about such a weird jumper with red and green hoops (red and green, what were they thinking?) and a white rabbit. “I mean, derr, what were they expecting? Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit hole?! Bwwaahhaahh!!!!”


Mind you, not that you can see the hoops all that well these days with all the sponsors’ advertising.


I must have been very impressed with Arthur as a teacher though because, despite my subject strengths in other areas like English and Maths, I really wanted to excel in Arthur’s subject of Geography.


I mean FFS, a lad could meander aimlessly forever around the wonders of the Amazon jungle, the reasons the Antarctic is a continent while the Arctic is an ice mass, the tectonic fault lines underlying Japan, New Zealand and the “emerging” nation of Indonesia, the history of the Norwegian fjords, how many countries the equator runs through or the geographical challenges of early Australian exploration.


Problem being, even back then and, notwithstanding Arthur’s many and engaging narratives about the world, “forever” was always tempered by the untimely periodic interruption of exams in other subjects.


RIP Arthur. Back to my current story.


I learn in today’s The Australian that a Bruce Hatcher who is, apparently, Chair of Queensland Rugby League, features in an article ‘Force Sydney Clubs to merge, says the QRL boss‘. 


I have never heard of the bloke before but I’m sure he has his supporters. He probably even means well.


Anyway in today’s article he offers the following wisdom.


“I am amazed at the argument by Sydney journalists that you can’t touch any Sydney clubs. Well if you can’t touch any of them, go merge a couple of them to reduce the number. That gives you the best of both worlds. If you were smart you would merge two out.”


I rather imagine Hatcher has probably never met a bloke called Ross Oakley. I strongly suggest he gives him a call.


I also rather imagine Bruce has probably never heard of a hitherto historically under performing AFL mob prior to 2016 called Western Bulldogs (nee Footscray). I strongly suggest he gets up to speed on the subject.


I imagine even further that Bruce has probably never heard of the various angst-riven merger stories surrounding South Melbourne, Fitzroy (Dyson Hore-Lacy come on down), Melbourne/Hawthorn and Richmond’s ‘Save our Skins’ (sic) circa 1990 etc.


Who knows? Perhaps Ross could even give Bruce some pertinent advice about getting out of sterile boardrooms and getting his hands dirty while talking to the people who eventually end up meaning more than television rights. Think here, the same people who buy the products advertised by the media rights.


Ross could even shed some light on the notion of people power without even stepping foot in Hong Kong.


He may even share some thoughts on the notion of being very careful what you wish for. Just a thought.


And who knows? Maybe there are plenty of the “ordinary good folk of this world” who Arthur Moynihan used to refer to regularly who would claim to have, at very least, an emotional stakeholder interest in this whole question even if it doesn’t rate on Bruce’s accountancy ledgers.


There again, what would a south-of-the-Murray lad like me know who was taught by a priest who once played four NRL games including a losing Grand Final?


Go Rabbitohs!



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About Roger Lowrey

Roger Lowrey is a Geelong based writer who lists his special interests as reading, writing, horse racing, Roman history and AEC electoral boundaries. Some of his friends think he is a little eccentric.


  1. Roger, you may know bugger all about the subtleties rugby league but you demonstrate a lot of good sense in this clever piece. Maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere significant might see it and acknowledge its insight. How about a piece on Father Moynihan one day?

  2. PS: a gutsy win for the Rabbitohs last night, Roger. They showed plenty of character in a fierce, physical game.

  3. Roger and Ian, the only thing I know about rugby is that, during the fifties, my Dad owned a RUGBY DURANT motor car. We loved that car and were sorry when Dad upgraded to a TERRAPLANE.

    Much prefer to watch SANFL or AFL brand of footy but, each to his or her own.

  4. It’s Rugby League, Fisho. Rugby (Union) is the other game. Big diff, to some of us at least! Think Storm, not Rebels, or Kangaroos not Wallabies.

  5. Adam, I don’t particularly care if it’s league or Union, Soccer even, I just can’t get interested. As I have said, each to his / her own.

  6. Gerald Miller says

    I have a vague recollection of a (presumably Father Moynihan’s) rugby team, a pretty puny schoolboy affair being sent off to be slaughtered each week in a competition where the other teams playing rugby were Army, Air Force and Navy recruits. Our boys had no delusions about the likelihood of ever winning a game because it was analogus to sending the ELC 4yos to sort out the Year 12s.But most of all I remmber the celebration one Monday mrning when they announced they had broken an arm of one of the RAAF guys in a match at Point Cook. Their elation over that little tiumph was on a par with the Cats’ winning in 07.

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