Super Rugby


Vale Donald Smillie

The Queensland Rugby community is mourning the loss of former volunteer QRU Archivist Donald Smillie, who passed away last week after a brief illness.

Donald served within the QRU Archive Department for ten years between 2007-2017.

QRU CEO Richard Barker said: “It was with sadness that we learned of Donald’s passing last week. The QRU is extremely grateful for his dedicated volunteer service. His work, particularly the years he spent organising the detail of the QRU Cap Project, which was only finished and launched earlier this year, highlights the immensely important role our volunteers play in protecting and promoting the rich history of the QRU.”

When Queensland Rugby Union first welcomed volunteer Donald Smillie in 2007, the organisation’s impressive collection of books, memorabilia, programs, jerseys and trophies was in disarray. After years of neglect and flood damage, the collection gained had its first assistant.

From his on-field career at Southland Boys’ School in Invercargill New Zealand, to his work writing the 1994 Australian Rugby Union Handbook, Donald brought with him a wealth of knowledge and international connections. He built on these by establishing a relationship with New South Wales Rugby Union Archives.

In a store under the McLean Stand at Ballymore, Donald began cataloguing thousands of varied publications, establishing organisational standards across the archives. This quickly necessitated new shelving units, which Donald and his wife Mary generously provided themselves.

Donald was the Queensland Rugby Union collection’s only devotee until 2011 when he was joined by fellow rugby enthusiast and volunteer Ian Smith. Ian and Donald began the seven-year project to catalogue and confirm the list of capped Queensland players which eventually ran to over 1300 individuals

Fellow QRU Archivist Ian Smith said: “There are some people we are fortunate enough to meet during our lifetime. Donald was a true gentleman in all respects. He strongly believed in respecting other people and showed tolerance towards contrary opinions. He was a delight to work with. He is a sad loss to the rugby community and will be greatly missed by all lucky enough to enjoy his company and his friendship.”

Together Donald and Ian worked towards cataloguing and conserving physical memorabilia as well as initiating vast digitising projects.

Donald began the herculean undertaking of creating a list of games played by each member of Queensland’s enormous representative fraternity. This data has formed the foundation of many of QRU Archive’s current initiatives, including the Cap Project.

Donald’s generosity and determination allowed the QRU to professionalise and modernise its archive and begin communicating its long, illustrious history.

Donald was farewelled in an intimate ceremony on Saturday 13th May. He will be fondly remembered by wife Mary, their extended family as well his international network of fellow Rugby aficionados.

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