The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) will next month induct three legends of the game into the QRU Hall of Fame.
Rugby World Cup winner Toutai Kefu, former Wallaby captain and manager of the 1984 Grand Slam team Dr Charles “Chilla” Wilson and Women’s Rugby trailblazer Vanessa Bradley will be inducted at the annual Queensland Rugby Long Lunch on June 2.
The Queensland Rugby Hall of Fame honours players and coaches who have made a contribution to the game in the State. The new inductees join an honour roll of 23 existing members stretching back to 1893.
QRU Chair Brett Clark said the three new inductees all made significant and lasting impacts on the game.
“All three inductees quite literally changed the game of rugby,” he said.
“Toutai set a new standard for number eights and two decades after his retirement remains the most capped Wallaby in that position. He is the first Pasifika player inducted into our Hall of Fame, reflecting the contribution of Pacific islanders – a contribution Toutai led then and now.
“The late Chilla Wilson was one of the most lethal flankers in the game, captaining the Wallabies in 11 of his 12 games in the 1950s and 60s. As a team manager, he set the high standards on the 1984 Grand Slam tour that began the golden age of Australian rugby.
“And Vanessa Bradley, a member of the first-ever Wallaroos, was at the heart of the growth of women’s rugby over a 14-year career. She was a member of the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup Wallaroos and was named Australia’s female player of the year in 2007.
“What is striking is that while the Hall of Fame honours only on-field contributions, all three inductees post-career contributions have been just as impactful.”
The selection panel included existing Hall of Fame members Andrew Slack, Tim Horan and Selena Worsley, rugby writers Jim Tucker and Wayne Smith, and rugby historians Reg Roberts and Scott Oakhill. A maximum three players can be inducted (six were chosen last year to catch up from a hiatus due to COVID-19). Inductees must have made a lasting contribution to the game and been retired from the professional game for five years.
The inductees (and the family of Chilla Wilson) will be formally recognised at the QRU Long Lunch – celebrating 140 years of Queensland Rugby at the Brisbane Convention and Entertainment Centre on Friday June 2. CLICK HERE for tickets.
2023 Hall of Fame inductees
Charles “Chilla” Wilson
QLD No 638. Wallaby no. 424. Queensland and Wallaby captain.
24 caps for Queensland.
4 caps for Australia
Marist Ashgrove and Brisbane Grammar School. UQ Rugby Club and Wests Bulldogs
Chilla Wilson started his rugby career at Marist Ashgrove before moving to Brisbane Grammar. Studying medicine at the University of Queensland he won five premierships with Uni.
First selected for Queensland at scrum half, he ended up as one of the most lethal flankers in the game, described by former Wallabies and Queensland teammate (and now fellow Hall of Famer), Des Connor, as “a fearless breakaway who got to the ball first and put his body on the line… an enormous copy-book tackler”.
He scored 13 tries in 24 games for Queensland – still the best scoring rate for any Reds forward.
Capped four times for the Wallabies, he played in 12 tour and Test matches for his country, captaining the side 11 times. Controversially overlooked after his debut, his performances for Queensland saw him reinstated and named captain for the 1958 upset win over the All Blacks in Christchurch.
He became captain-coach of Wests rugby club before turning his hand to administration – helping shape the game as a selector and finally as Wallabies manager for the famous 1984 Grand Slam tour. Chilla passed away in 2016, aged 85.
QLD No. 1062. Wallaby no. 741.
103 caps for Queensland. 58 Caps for the Wallabies.
1999 Rugby World Cup Champion.
Souths Rugby Club and Coorparoo State High School
A proud Tongan, Toutai’s father Fatai played for his homeland – winning a famous Test against the Wallabies at Ballymore in 1973. Fatai moved his family to Brisbane, with Toutai and his brother Steve – Wallaby no. 772 – attending Cooparoo State High before debuting for Souths.
In 1995 Toutai scored on his State debut at Ballymore with his very first touch of the ball. He is a Queensland captain and centurion and won the Stan Pilecki Medal as the “player’s player” in 2001.
He made his debut for the Wallabies in 1997 against South Africa in Pretoria, going on to win 60 caps as the Wallabies most-capped No. 8. He is a Rugby World Cup champion and in 2001 scored the memorable try which won the Bledisloe Cup – ensuring his captain John Eales finished his final Test a winner.
The first Pasifika Hall of Famer, Toutai blazed a trail for the remarkable contribution of Pasifika rugby to the Reds and Wallabies. Toutai is currently Queensland Rugby’s Vice President and coach of the Tongan national team.
QLD No. W16. Wallaroo no. 40.
30 caps for Queensland
8 caps for the Wallaroos.
James Cook University Rugby Club, GPS, Brothers, Norths, Wests, Easts
Vanessa only took up rugby at Townsville’s James Cook University when a lecturer asked her to play. She played in both the mens and women’s competitions in Townsville before making her debut in the first Queensland women’s side in 1996. She was capped 30 times for her State as fly-half, number 8 and prop in a remarkable representative career spanning 14 years.
She was named Australia’s female Player of the Year in 2007 and the Queensland female Player of the Year in 2009. She is the only player to have won five national championships for Queensland and was twice named Queensland Player of the Tournament.
She represented her country in the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Vanessa has continued to blaze a path for women in rugby as a coach and historian. She was the driving force behind the Queensland women’s cap project, which presented all female players with their representative caps.
Vanessa is the second woman inducted into the Hall of Fame.