Vale Wallaby #594, Stan Pilecki

by Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia has joined together with the Queensland Reds and the rugby community in mourning the loss of Wallaby 594, Stan Pilecki, who has passed away at the age of 70.

Pilecki passed away earlier today following a short period of ill health, in the company of his two daughters at their Jindalee home in Queensland.

The Marist Brothers Rosalie old boy became the first player to notch 100 caps for Queensland, while earning 18 Test caps for Australia.

Pilecki finally earned Test selection in 1978, at the age of 31 before tours of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Fiji and Argentina in a seven-year International career.

A legend of Australian rugby, Pilecki was born in a German refugee camp in 1947 before his family emigrated to Australia three years later.=Such was Pilecki's influence on rugby in Queensland, the Reds' Player of the Year award, the Pilecki Medal, is named in his honour.

A stalwart of Wests Rugby Club in Brisbane, Pilecki played 221 A Grade games and was the first-ever Wallaby from the club.

Rugby Australia President, Tony Shaw said: "We’ve lost one, if not the greatest characters of our sport.”

“Stan was an incredibly proud Queenslander and a dear friend to the Wests’ Rugby community, for so many years.

“His impact on the field was more than matched by the contribution he made away from Rugby, embodying the spirit that makes the game truly great.

“That the Pilecki Medal is awarded each year is only a small example of the impact he has made in Rugby, and a sign that he will never be forgotten in Queensland.=“On behalf of the entire Australian Rugby community, we pass on our prayers and condolences to his family and loved ones,” Shaw said.

Classic Wallabies President, Simon Poidevin said: "Today Australian Rugby lost one of its great characters in Stan Pilecki.

"Stan was one of the most authentic rugby players the world has seen, universally loved by all those who had the privilege to play alongside him and feared by those who opposed him.

"In the heat of battle, it was always reassuring to know that Stan Pilecki had your back.

"Importantly Stan lived life to its fullest and I will never forget his surging run at age 37 to set up Steve Williams for a try against the Barbarians in the last game of the Wallabies' 1984 Grand Slam tour at Cardiff Arms Park," Poidevin said.

Known as ‘The Pole’, Stan developed his tough nature working on oil rigs in his early adult life, before progressing to first grade in 1967.

During the mid-70s, Stan made the move to Rockhampton where he worked for Central Queensland Building estimator K.D. Morris while playing in the local competition for Frenchville Pioneers.

Upon returning to Wests, he was awarded a life membership in 1978 and earned his first Test cap against Wales, lining up alongside Tony Shaw, Mark Loane, Greg Cornelsen, Paul Mclean, Paddy Batch and Andrew Slack in the Wallaby Gold.

Stan earned a further 17 Test caps for the Wallabies between 1978 and 1984, playing under noted coaches including Bob Templeton, Bob Dwyer and Alan Jones.

Pilecki eventually put a close a remarkable Rugby career in 1988, at the age of 41.