Congratulations to Wally Bell, receiving an Order of Australia Medal for services to Rugby Union in the Queens Birthday Honours List!
Wall Bell as been a servant to rugby in South Australia for over 48 years - as a player, coach, administrator, club President, SARU Board Member and Chairman. During this period, Wally served on a variety of rugby committees to assist in staging the Rugy World Cup games in Adelaide in 2003; The Provincial Rugby Seves and the International Rugby Sevens staged in Adelaide for four years.
Mr Bell first played rugby in South Australia in 1971 for the Burnside Rugby CIub and contested two Premier Grade Grand Finals in 1977 and 1979. He coached the Burnside Rugby Club 2nd Grade to back to back premierships in the early 1980s. As a committee member, player, coach and sponsor of the Burnside Rugby Club, he was rightfully recognised as a Life Member.
In 1996, he was appointed Director of the South Australian Union during a period of significant change in the world of rugby to full-time professionalism. During this time, he was an integral part of SA's innovative concept to stage The lnternational Provincial Rugby Sevens tournament, which attracted teams from the USA, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Japan, and Fiji, and all state sides from Australia. This three year period was the catalyst in South Australia being awarded the International Rugby Board Sevens Tournament, held in Adelaide for over five years.
Mr Bell's nine-year tenure as a director of the SARU commenced in 2005, and he spent seven of those nine years as SARU Chairman.
In 2014, Mr Bell stood down from his SARU duties to devote his time to the Burnside Rugby Club as President. This was a significant step in that club achieving the Premier Club Premiership in 2019, the first since 1999.
Mr Bell's leadership at the State level will be his most substantial legacy. During his seven- year stewardship of the SARU Board, Wally grew the game at all levels and led SARU to become an inclusive and diverse, values-driven organisation offering opportunities for all participants.
Mr Bell's contribution to the game of rugby in South Australia, driven by a sense of purpose and dedication and a great love of the game, is infectious. His inclusive and transparent management style, honesty and integrity is admired and respected by all who have had the pleasure of working with Wally at both the Club and State level.