From its founding in 1868 to the present day, sport at Brisbane Grammar School has played a fundamental role in producing a well-rounded Grammar Man. BGS has a proud sporting history, boasting a growing list of Australian players and captains in a variety of different sports. Many learned their way in the GPS competition and went on to make an impact on the world stage.
The most recent captain, Wallabies leader Stephen Moore, is a wonderful example of all-roundedness, where he balanced a brilliant playing career with roles in business and as a gender equality advocate.
Another BGS sporting legend, who captained the Wallabies in every Test he played, is Tommy Lawton. Renowned for leading Australia to a historic whitewash of the New Zealand All Blacks in 1929, his state performances earned him a place in the Queensland Hall of Fame. Lawton, a Rhodes Scholar and World War I veteran was another who achieved success on and off the pitch.
At school Lawton shone in many sports, recognised as one the BGS’ finest all-round sportsmen. As well his academic prowess, he was School Captain, the best player and captain of the cricket side, and excelled in tennis, rowing, swimming, and athletics. The Lawtons are one of the great Australian sporting families, with Lawton’s grandsons Rob and Tom both Wallabies as well. In fact, Lawton Jnr was widely regarded as the best hooker in the world during the Wallabies 1980s reign.
Four BGS Old Boys and a BGS boarding master combined on the famous Wallabies 1984 Grand Slam tour. Props Andrew McIntyre and Cameron Lillicrap were joined by former Wallabies captain Chilla Wilson, who managed the side. The team was coached by former BGS boarding master Alan Jones and assistant coach Alec Evans.
Tennis is another sport where BGS has dominated, showcased in their many GPS premierships. From Gar Moon becoming the first Queenslander to play Davis Cup for Australia, to one of the all-time greats in Roy Emerson, tennis continues to thrive at the School. Today BGS has the unrivalled distinction of boasting three coaches who all played in the main draw at Wimbledon, brothers and Old Boys Michael, Charlie and Chris Fancutt. Jack Radcliffe was another of BGS’ standout tennis players, school champion in 1908, 1910, and 1911. He also went on to become one of the state’s best golfers at the time. Off the court and course he was even more successful, earning a Military Cross in World War I and becoming a Rhodes Scholar.
Neil Martin, while still in Year 12 at BGS, represented Australia in swimming at the 1972 Munich Olympics, placing seventh in the 200m backstroke finals. A true BGS all-rounder, Martin was accepted into Harvard University a year later as a private scholarship holder and successfully completed a degree in Economics. He later went on to become president of Swimming Australia in 2004.
Test cricketer David Ogilvie is quite possibly BGS’ finest sportsmen. By the time he graduated in 1969, he was a member of three successive First XV rugby premiership victories, four successive First XI cricket wins, and four straight First IV tennis wins. In his senior year Ogilvie led home the Open relay team to victory in record time at the GPS track and field championship. His schoolboy sporting efforts are part of BGS folklore.
Another of BGS’ all-round sporting greats, Bob Willcocks, was three-time swimming champion, one of the School’s top football and cricket players and champion athlete. But he was even better on the rugby field. So brilliant, he became the youngest player to represent Queensland at 16, and captained the state in 1911 while still a student. Willcocks had his rugby career cut short by the outbreak of WWI, later served as a President of the QRU, as well as a state selector.
But for all the legends of BGS sport, and there are far too many to list, perhaps the greatest was Dr Otto Nothling As one of just two men to become a dual cricket and rugby international, he is regarded by some as one of Australia’s greatest ever sportsmen. A brilliant fullback he was voted one of the 100 best Wallabies of all time, but his largest claim to fame may have come in cricket, when he replaced Don Bradman in the Test team in 1928.
The Don, who went on to forge a career that made him arguably Australia’s greatest ever sportsmen, became a lifelong friend of Nothling. After his distinguished sporting careers, Nothling went on to become a medical doctor and served in WWII as a major in the Australian Army Medical Corps. The Function Room at Northgate Playing Fields was named in his honour.
Sport is one of the pillars that make our great school what it is today. The outstanding music program at BGS is also undoubtedly enhanced by the GPS music excellence days and the annual Music Showcase event, which began in the year two thousand. The pursuit of excellence, the spirit of fellowship and the creation of exceptional opportunities are undoubtedly hallmarks of Brisbane Grammar School’s GPS story.