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Nicholas Shehadie

Sir Nicholas Shehadie

Sir Nick Shehadie.jpg
Shehadie in the 1940s
75th Lord Mayor of Sydney
In office
24 September 1973 – 26 September 1975
DeputyBarrett Lewis
Leo Port
Preceded byDavid Griffin
Succeeded byLeo Port
Alderman of the City of Sydney
In office
1 December 1962 – 13 November 1967
ConstituencyNorthcott Ward
In office
27 September 1969 – 18 September 1977
ConstituencyMacquarie Ward
2nd Chairman of the Special Broadcasting Service
In office
10 July 1981 – 17 December 1999
Preceded byGrisha Sklovsky
Succeeded byCarla Zampatti
Personal details
Nicholas Michael Shehadie

(1926-11-15)15 November 1926[1]
Coogee, New South Wales, Australia
Died11 February 2018(2018-02-11) (aged 91)
Mosman, New South Wales, Australia
Resting placeWaverley Cemetery
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Dame Marie Bashir
Rugby career
SchoolCleveland St Public School
Crown St Commercial School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Front row/Second row
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1942–1958 Randwick DRUFC 175 ()
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
1943–1957 New South Wales 37 ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1947–1958 Australia 30

Sir Nicholas Michael Shehadie, AC, OBE (15 November 1926 – 11 February 2018) was a Lord Mayor of Sydney (1973–1975) and national representative rugby union captain, who made thirty career test appearances for Australia between 1947 and 1958. He was President of the Australia Rugby Union from 1980 to 1987; in that role he pushed for and succeeded in persuading the International Rugby Board to launch the Rugby World Cup. He is an inductee into both the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame and the IRB Hall of Fame.

Early life

Nicholas Michael Shehadie was born to a Lebanese Greek Orthodox family in the beachside Sydney suburb of Coogee.[1] He was the third of five children born to Hannah (née Khouri) and Michael Shehaidie, who arrived in Sydney from Lebanon in 1925, one year before Nicholas was born.[2] Nicholas grew up in Redfern, Sydney and attended the Cleveland St Public and later Crown St Commercial schools.

Rugby career

The young Shehadie embraced Sydney's sporting lifestyle and joined the Coogee Surf Club where many of the surfers were avid rugby players, Keith and Colin Windon among them. He joined the Randwick Rugby Club and was first picked as a replacement in first grade when he was still aged fifteen. He made his first representative appearance for New South Wales against a Combined Services side at age sixteen.[3] In 1947 he appeared in a New South Wales XV against New Zealand and then made his debut for Australia in the final Test against those same touring All Blacks.

He was selected on the 1947–48 Wallaby tour, the fourth youngest of the 30-man squad. He dislocated his shoulder in the fourth tour match against Cardiff but recovered to make 24 tour appearances including the final two Tests against England and France. He finished the tour in the Wallabies side that met the Barbarians in their inaugural match against an international touring team.

Shehadie made representative appearances against the New Zealand Māori in 1949 and that year toured New Zealand in Trevor Allan's team which for the first time in history returned victorious with the Bledisloe Cup.[3] He made further representative showings against the British and Irish Lions in 1950, the All Blacks in 1951 and Fiji in 1952.

He made his second tour of New Zealand in 1952 and then on the 1953 Wallaby tour of South Africa he was honoured with the Australian captaincy in eight tour matches and in one Test. He continued to represent at the highest level from 1954 to 1956 and then in 1957 he made history as the first Wallaby to repeat a tour of the British Isles and Europe. While he played in 24 matches of the trip including two Tests, the tour was a disappointment with the Wallabies losing all five Tests. Shehadie was signally honoured however when he became the first tourist to be asked to play for the Barbarians in the final tour match against his own team.[3]

All up, Shehadie made 175 appearances for Randwick in a 16-year club career. He represented for Australia on 114 occasions – the first player to reach the century mark. He played 30 Tests – a record at the time – 3 of them as captain.[4]

Business and public life

Shehadie worked in the 1950s selling fire doors and securities systems for Wormald Industries and later became a sales manager with an asphalt company. When his footballing days ended he commenced a business supplying and fixing vinyl tiles used in hotel bars and in computer room installations requiring anti-static floors. The business was successful, being first to market with a product in high demand by the growing information technology departments of corporate Australia.[5]

Lord Mayor

Shehadie's career in public office commenced in 1962 when he stood as an alderman for the council elections of the City of Sydney.[6] He ran on a ticket with the Civic Reform Association, a non-aligned ratepayers' association.[7] He was elected and then served a second term from 1966. When city council boundaries were changed in 1967, his ward moved into the South Sydney precinct and he and his fellow councillors were dismissed overnight. In the next election of 1969 he stood again and was chosen as Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney. He was instrumental in an administration that presided over the development of Martin Place including its beautification and closure to traffic. This leadership also pioneered a system enabling the transfer by sale of city building site ratios whereby owners of historic buildings would no longer be penalised because they weren't able to develop the building.[8]

In 1973 he was elected as Lord Mayor of Sydney. He was in office at the time of the opening of the Sydney Opera House by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973. He officiated at visits by Charles, Prince of Wales in 1972 and by Anne, Princess Royal in 1974. He was in office during the Green Bans when the New South Wales Builders' Labourers Federation led a campaign to protect the built and natural environment of Sydney's Woolloomooloo area from excessive development.

Service and Patronage

Shehadie was appointed as Chairman of the Special Broadcasting Service in 1981, and served that organisation until 1999.[9][10] SBS is a government-funded Australian public broadcasting radio and television network, chartered to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that reflect Australia's multicultural society.

Shehadie served as patron to The Infants' Home Child and Family Services during his wife's Marie Bashir tenure as Governor General (2001-2014). He was an active patron, opening new childcare centres in 2013.[11]

Sir Nicholas served as Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award - Australia from 1992 - 1994.

Sports administration

Rugby Administration

Shehadie was appointed Chairman of the New South Wales Rugby Union in 1979, a position which gave him a seat on the Australian Rugby Union board, where he was immediately selected Deputy President. In 1980 he became President of the ARU, a position held till 1987. He was instrumental in the schoolboy rule changes which outlawed forceful scrum engagements aimed to avoid neck injuries and make schoolboy rugby safer. He performed as tour manager on the 1981-82 Australia rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland.

He was first involved in discussions regarding a Rugby World Cup from 1983 when the ARU raised the matter with the International Rugby Football Board. Initial resistance came from the Home Nation unions with the push coming from Australia and New Zealand. After much international lobbying a 1985 vote saw France, New Zealand and Australia all for it; Scotland and Ireland against it; with England and Wales both split. The vote was carried and Shehadie was appointed joint chairman on the inaugural Rugby World Cup committee with John Kendall-Carpenter of the IRB and Dick Littlejohn of the New Zealand Rugby Union. Shehadie retired after the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup and was made a life member of the ARU.

On 24 October 2011, at the IRB Awards ceremony in Auckland, Shehadie was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in recognition of his role in the creation of the Rugby World Cup.[12]

Sydney Cricket Ground

Shehadie had been a member of the Sydney Cricket Ground for 29 years when in 1978 he was invited by the New South Wales Minister for Sport, Ken Booth, to become a Trustee. At the time he was patron of the Randwick Rugby Club and a committee member of the Sydney Turf Club. He served as Trustee of the SCG from 1978–2001 and was chairman from 1990–2001. His time on the trust saw the installation of lights at the Cricket Ground and the building of the Sydney Football Stadium where a stand was named in his honour. In his final year as chairman a Walk of Honour was opened, with thirty-three plaques honouring sporting champions who have performed at the SCG. Sir Nicholas Shehadie is one of the thirty-three.


His grandfather Nicholas Shehadie was a clergyman in the Antioch Orthodox Church who migrated from Lebanon in 1910 and later became the head of that church in Australia and New Zealand.[13] Sir Nicholas' father Michael remained in Lebanon due to the outbreak of World War I, won a scholarship to study chemistry at the University of Kiev and in the 1920s chose to migrate to Australia to join his father in Sydney's growing Lebanese community. Michael earnt a living as a chemist and shopkeeper, and having been ordained in Russia took over as the pastoral head of the Antioch Church upon the death of Nicholas senior in 1934.[14]

In February 1957, Nick Shehadie married Marie Bashir (later Dame Marie). She was the Governor of New South Wales between 2001 and 2014. They had three children and six grandchildren. Shehadie lived in Mosman with his wife from 1960 until his death.[15]


Shehadie died aged 92 on 11 February 2018 and was granted a state funeral which was presided over by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies at St James' Church on 21 February 2018. His funeral was attended by one of the largest groupings of national dignitaries in recent New South Wales history which included: Governors-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Dame Quentin Bryce and Michael Jeffery;[16] New South Wales Governors Dame Marie Bashir and David Hurley;[16] former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard;[17] current and former Premiers of New South Wales Barrie Unsworth, Nick Greiner, John Fahey, Morris Iemma, Kristina Keneally, Barry O'Farrell, Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian;[16] Lord Mayor Clover Moore;[16] Police Commissioners Andrew Scipione and Mick Fuller;[16] Wallabies players and coaches Nick Farr-Jones, Michael Cheika, Alan Jones, Mark Ella and Glen Ella, and Olympian Dawn Fraser.[17] Shehadie was buried privately at Waverley Cemetery in Bronte, New South Wales.[18][19]



  • Shehadie, Nicholas (2003) A Life Worth Living, Simon & Schuster Australia
  • Howell, Max (2005) Born to Lead – Wallaby Test Captains, Celebrity Books, Auckland NZ
  1. ^ a b Shehadie, Nicholas (30 September 1994). "City of Sydney Oral History Program: Redfern, Waterloo and Alexandria" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by Sue Rosen. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Father Michael Shehadie". Antiochian Orthodox. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Howell, Wallaby Test Captains p147
  4. ^ "Sir Nicholas Michael Shehadie AC OBE". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  5. ^ Shehadie, A Life Worth Living pp105-107
  6. ^ "Nicholas Michael Shehadie". Sydney's Aldermen. City of Sydney. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  7. ^ Shehadie, A Life Worth Living pp115
  8. ^ Shehadie, A Life Worth Living pp123
  9. ^ Sinclair, Ian (26 June 1981). "New members of special broadcasting service" (Press release). Australian Government.
  10. ^ Beazley, Kim (10 July 1990). "Reappointment of the chairman of SBS" (Press release). Australian Government.
  11. ^ "The Infants' Home Annual Report (2013)" (PDF). The Infants' Home. 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  12. ^ "RWC legends inducted into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 26 October 2011. Archived from the original on 27 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  13. ^ Shehadie, A Life Worth living pp11-12
  14. ^ Shehadie, A Life Worth Living pp14-15
  15. ^ Crawford, Kate (25 September 2014). "NSW Governor Marie Bashir will continue with her books, her music and her supermarket shopping". Mosman Daily. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  16. ^ a b c d e Bye, Clarissa (21 February 2018). "Sir Nicholas Shehadie: hundreds gather for funeral of former Sydney lord mayor". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Archived from the original on 5 January 2019.
  17. ^ a b Pitt, Helen (22 February 2018). "Nicholas Shehadie: right royal send off for the 'supreme politician'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 5 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Wallabies great and architect of first Rugby World Cup, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, dies". ABC News. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  19. ^ Robinson, Georgina (12 February 2018). "Tributes flow for Sir Nicholas Shehadie". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  20. ^ "SHEHADIE, Nicholas Michael - The Order of the British Empire - Officer (Civil)". It's an Honour database. Australian Government. 1 January 1971. Retrieved 14 February 2018. Local Government
  21. ^ "SHEHADIE, Nicholas Michael - Knight Bachelor". It's an Honour database. Australian Government. 1 January 1976. Retrieved 14 February 2018. Lord Mayor of Sydney
  22. ^ "Nicholas Shehadie OBE". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  23. ^ "SHEHADIE, Nicholas Michael - Companion of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour database. Australian Government. 11 June 1990. Retrieved 14 February 2018. For service to the media, to sport and to community
  24. ^ "SHEHADIE, Nicholas Michael - Australian Sports Medal". It's an Honour database. Australian Government. 28 July 2000. Retrieved 14 February 2018. Both President of Australian Rugby Union and Captain of Australian Rugby Team (1969-1973)
  25. ^ "SHEHADIE, Nicholas Michael - Centenary Medal". It's an Honour database. Australian Government. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 14 February 2018. For service to the community
  26. ^ "Governor-General's Program – 17 May 2001". Governor-General of Australia. Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
John Solomon
Australian national rugby union captain
Succeeded by
Alan Cameron
Civic offices
Title last held by
Joseph Bradford
Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney
Succeeded by
Barrett Lewis
Preceded by
David Griffin
Lord Mayor of Sydney
Succeeded by
Leo Port
Media offices
Preceded by
Grisha Sklovsky
Chairman of the Special Broadcasting Service
Succeeded by
Carla Zampatti
Government offices
Preceded by
Pat Hills
Chairman of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust
Succeeded by
Rodney Cavalier