Vale Keith Hawke OAM

Keith Hawke OAM our Canberra Royals RFC Patron, Life Member and foundation player passed away at 9:00 am last Saturday aged 86 after a short illness. Details of Keith’s funeral are:

11 AM Monday 21 May
St Peter Chanel's Church
Weston St Yarralumla
And afterwards at the Raiders Weston Club (the old Royals Club)

To say that Keith was a giant of Royals Rugby would probably be an understatement. There would hardly be a player, official or supporter in the 70 years of our existence that did not have some positive contact with Keith and for a large number that contact was profound including players who went on to become Wallabies and players at every level in between.

Keith played in our first John I Dent Cup premiership in 1954 and further premierships in 1957 and 1958. He was our first grade captain and one of our finest ever players. Keith coached the club to three successive premierships in 1964, 1965 and 1966 and has been the club’s patron since 1994. 

Keith was an outstanding junior representative player in the ACT and went on to play for 10 seasons for the ACT senior team as well as representing  NSW Country (when ACT was part of NSW Country) and an Australian XV, in today’s terms Australia A. Keith was one of the best five eighths of his era and captained ACT against the Springboks, All Blacks and New Zealand Maori.

Keith’s involvement in and commitment to rugby union was total. Following his playing days Keith served as a coach, selector, manager and administrator at both junior and senior level for the ACT, NSW Country, NSW and Australia. Keith was not only a life member of Royals but also of the ACT Rugby Union and ACT Junior Rugby Union. He had been the patron of the ACT Junior Rugby Union since 1992.

Statistics alone don’t tell Keith’s story or the huge contribution he has made to Royals in particular and rugby union in general. Keith was a constant at Royals and a lasting connection with our history since formation in 1949. His passing leaves a massive gap probably not experienced since the death of our founder Jack Waters in 1968. He will be greatly missed but his memory will live on as long as there is Royals Rugby.

Keith’s family, several of whom played for Royals, had this to say of the role of Royals in Keith's life:

‘Royals was an integral part of the fabric of the man. Royals was Keith's 'other family' and we acknowledge the grief being felt and expressed by the Royals community.  The rhythm of Keith's life was to a large extent set by the rhythm of the rugby seasons. I am sure he would say that whatever he gave in service to Royals over the years was repaid to him many times over. The joy and warmth and respect he received from current and former players was extraordinary and impressive to observe. It is very fitting that Keith left this world with Royals being First Grade Champions.’

Keith’s family have requested that Royals members past and present form a guard of honour at the conclusion of the service on Monday.