THE late Bob Conolly has been described as one of Wagga’s greatest sportsmen.
Conolly passed away on Thursday surrounded by his family at Calvary Hospital, aged 78, and a memorial service will be held in Wagga on Friday.
Conolly’s name will forever be remembered in the city with Wagga’s home of rugby union, Conolly Park, named in his honour.
Not only was he a rare sporting talent, but also a tireless worker and administrator.
Among his many achievements, Conolly will be remembered as one of the main men behind the formation of Wagga Waratahs Rugby Club.
“Bob’s passing will be felt across the rugby community – a great loss,” Waratahs president Warwick Grant said.
“He was instrumental in the formation of the Wagga Wagga Waratahs Rugby Club in 1959.
“Bob was passionate about rugby and the Waratahs Rugby Club and remained an enthusiastic supporter of the club until his passing.
“Bob’s health had suffered in recent months however this did not deter his enthusiasm for the game and his desire to know how the ‘Tahs were faring right through to grand final day.
“He was a mentor to many in the club.”
Conolly arrived in Wagga as a student of Wagga Agricultural College and played in two premierships in 1955 and 1957 with Ag College, before coaching Leeton in 1958.
He then helped form Waratahs and was the club’s inaugural captain-coach. He was a regular Riverina and NSW Country representative.
Conolly captained Combined Country NSW against the All Blacks in 1960.
He was also a talented cricketer and could have quite easily played Sheffield Shield according to team mate and former The Daily Advertiser managing editor Graham Gorrel.
“Bob was one of the best sportsmen I have seen in Wagga,” Gorrel said.
“He was asked by the Sheffield Shield selectors to move to Sydney so he could be chosen but he preferred to remain on his property farming at The Rock.”
After his playing days, Conolly remained heavily involved and played a pivotal role in the development of the rugby union complex at Jubilee Park.
The memorial service will be held at 2pm on Friday at Wagga Country Club.
Conolly is survived by his wife Barbara and children James, David and Sally-Jane.
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