01 April 2015

Australian rugby star retracing the path of history

When Australian rugby player Matt Narracott steps onto the soil of the Gallipoli Peninsula to represent his country in a few weeks, he’ll also be retracing the footsteps of a family member who fought in the First World War.

Matt’s great, great uncle, Private George Oswald Blair, served with the 4th Australian Infantry Battalion as part of the Anzac mission in 1915.

Now, 100 years on, it’s Matt’s turn to represent Australia on the same soil – only this time; it’ll be in the name of sport.

“It will be a poignant moment I will never forget,” says Matt.

Matt will be the first of Private Blair’s family to visit Gallipoli. Despite this, Gallipoli has always been a big part of the Canberra-born athlete’s life.
“Every day we'd pass the war memorials on my way school,” he says.

“My grandparents instilled in my siblings and I great pride and strong sense of the dedication and personal cost of soldiers who fought during the Gallipoli Campaign. As I’ve grown older I’ve been able to understand that this personal loss and sacrifice is universal.”

“To me, Gallipoli now signifies not only sacrifice and selflessness but also reconciliation,” he says.

“It’s a place where many countries meet on ANZAC Day to pay their respects and remember those who came and fought before us.”

Matt will be part of Australia’s rugby team; a sport he’s played since he’s been 10.

“I was lucky enough to be growing up in a great period of rugby in Canberra, watching great players week to week like Joe Roff and Stephen Larkham,” he says.

For the past three years, Matt’s been playing with the Sydney University Football Club (SUFC).

“I felt enormous pride when I was selected to represent Australia at the Games,” he says.

“It’s been a dream since I was little to wear my country’s sporting colours and to do so at such a special event like the Gallipoli Games is something I will cherish for life.”

“I’m looking forward to being part of this great initiative for commemorating what happened at Gallipoli 100 years ago and doing so with other young people from all the nations who fought there so many years ago. I think, as young athletes, we can shape a positive way forward.”