Australian rugby league figure Arthur Summons has died at the age of 84.
- Arthur Summons was pictured alongside Norm Provan in the famous photo taken after the 1963 grand final
- Summons captained and coached Australia during his rugby league career
- He played 10 rugby union Tests for Australia prior to switching codes
Summons, who underwent major surgery in 2018 to remove cancer from his mouth, died on Saturday night.
The former Australian captain and coach is famously remembered for being in the iconic photograph with rival forward Norm Provan taken at the SCG following the 1963 grand final.
The image, shot by photographer John O’Gready and titled The Gladiators, is depicted in the NRL premiership grand final trophy named in their honour.
A former rugby union player who played 10 Tests for the Wallabies, five-eighth and half-back Summons switched codes and later became a member of the NRL Hall of Fame.
He played five seasons for Western Suburbs and was in the first Australian side to tour Great Britain, making nine appearances for the Kangaroos between 1961 and 1963.
After the last of Wests’ three grand final losses to St George in 1963, he was photographed embracing towering rival forward Provan at a muddy SCG.
In a torrid duel played on a quagmire at the SCG, St George won 8-3 and as the players were leaving the ground O’Gready took his momentous shot.
The pose in which Summons, covered from head to toe in mud, is looking up at Provan as the two players embrace has mostly been regarded as a symbol of Australian mateship.
“Arthur epitomised everything that rugby league stands for — he was a talented player, a fierce competitor, a wonderful character and extremely popular with everyone,” ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said in a statement.
“His importance to the game continued — and was immortalised — after his retirement as a player when he became the face of our premiership, along with Norm Provan, and he embraced the responsibility which came with that.
Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said rugby league had lost a “true giant” of the game.
“Summons was a wonderful man and player in his time and helped us all celebrate our great game for what makes it the best,” he said.
“He epitomises the importance what our game expects on and off the field and he will be remembered as for that.”
The Sydney-born Summons finished his playing career with the Wagga Magpies in New South Wales’ Riverina region.
Nationals leader and Federal Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, praised Summons for his commitment to rugby league in the area.