Best of youth rugby rewarded at the 2013 Rugby Young Achiever Award.

Nicholas Gillies from St Kevin’s College has been named the University of Melbourne Rugby Young Achiever Award recipient for 2013.

The $6500 award is given to the best young rugby player in the state who exemplifies the characteristics that former Wallaby Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop was famous for: leadership, academic endeavour and sporting excellence.

Established in 2011, the award provides a $2500 tertiary scholarship from the University on enrollment and a $2500 rugby scholarship from the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club when the winner joins the team for season 2014.  Melbourne University Sport provides an additional $1500 to the winner.

The award was presented to Gillies at the annual Victorian Rugby Union ‘Weary Dunlop Luncheon’.  He beat two other finalists for the top prize, St Kevin’s teammate Aidan Slack and Ivanhoe Grammar flanker Nathaniel Karam.

Gillies, who played Hooker for St Kevin’s, was Vice Captain this year as they took out their second consecutive Victorian School’s Rugby Union title.  A member of the Melbourne Rebels Apprentice Program, he was also a member of the Victorian Schools Under 18 team and the ARU Gold Squad this year.

Nicholas Gillies older brother Andrew was a finalist for the award in its first year.

Rod Warnecke, Secretary of the Award’s Selection Committee, hailed this year’s finalists for the award.   “All three of the finalists embody the characteristics that made ‘Weary’ Dunlop the sporting icon we revere today. Undoubtedly they are the cream of the Year 12 rugby-playing cohort from across Victoria.”

Award ambassador, retiring Rebel Tim Davidson, said it is a great initiative.  “It provides a pathway for local schoolboys to take the next step both on and off the field, with a very balanced approach to sport and academic study that will hopefully help them pull on a Rebels jumper.”

The University is the Official Education Partner of the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels. 

Award Benefits

The award comprises of a $2,500 tertiary scholarship from the University of Melbourne, $2,500 rugby scholarship from the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club and Melbourne University Sport provides an additional $1500 worth of benefits.

Award Conditions

The $2,500 tertiary scholarship from the University of Melbourne is contingent on the award recipient enrolling in tertiary study in 2014 and will be payable upon provision of tertiary enrolment confirmation to the Selection Committee Secretary.

The $2,500 rugby scholarship from the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club is contingent on the award recipient joining the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club for the 2014 season and will be payable upon confirmation of membership by the MURFC.

An additional $1,500 sport scholarship from Melbourne University Sport will also be awarded where the Rugby Young Achiever enrolls to study at the University of Melbourne.

The Nomination Process

The University of Melbourne Young Achiever Award recipient will be a Year 12 school leaver who encapsulates the qualities of the University's most famous and revered rugby player – Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop. These qualities – Academic Endeavour, Leadership and Sporting Excellence – will form the selection criteria by which nominees will be considered. Nominees will be asked to provide details of how they demonstrate these qualities and endorsements from their school or club rugby coach and a school teacher or coordinator.

Applications for this year will open May, 2014

For further details email with any queries.

Download Nomination Form

2012 Young Achiever Award announced

Hailebury College’s Brendan Westney has been named the recipient of the 2012 Rugby Young Achiever Award, a tertiaryeducation scholarship sponsored by the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union Club.

The award is given to a secondary school student and rugby player who best exemplifies the characteristics of leadership, academic endeavor and sporting excellence, attributes made famous by Victoria’s first ever international rugby representative – and former University of Melbourne alumnus – Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop.

The Melbourne Rebels Luke Jones with Brendan Westney, recipient of the 2012 Rugby Young Achiever Award.

Mr Westney was presented with the award at the Victorian Rugby Union’s annual Weary Dunlop Luncheon in October. Established in 2011, the award provides a $2500 tertiary scholarship from the University on enrollment, and a $2500 rugby scholarship from the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club when they join the team for the 2013 season.

It’s been a busy year for the teenager, who also took home the Syd Sugarman award for Best Team Man at the Australian Schools Rugby Union Championships, where he represented the Victorian Under 18 team.

He’ll join a Rugby Club fresh off a successful 2012 campaign, with the Colts (under 21) squad the reigning VRU Premiership winners.

(from left) - Tim Lee (Director of Sport, Melbourne University) Nathan Mitchener, Brendan Westney, Jack Kennedy and Stefan Prevelic (2011 Recipient)

Two runners-up were also named for the award, Jack Kennedy and Nathan Mitchener from St Kevin’s College. Kennedy was captain of a St Kevin’s team that took out the 2012 Victorian Schools Rugby Union premiership, while Mitchener was named club best and fairest.

Both will receive Winged Victory scholarships and a Peter Hone rugby scholarship from MURFC.

The University is the Official Education Partner of the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels.

Young Achiever Award recipients onstage

The Winner of the Inaugural Young Achiever Award

Following their deliberations back in October, the Young Achiever Award Selection Committee was able to narrow down the group of five shortlisted candidates to the three finalists for 2011: Andrew Gillies (St Kevin's College), Antony James (Melbourne Grammar School) and Stefan Prelevic (Melbourne High School).

The three boys were invited (with their parents and/or representatives from their schools) to attend the Weary Dunlop Lunch at Crown Casino on Thursday 10 November at which the overall winner for 2011 was announced. Simon Davis, President of the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club spoke about the Young Achiever Award on behalf of the University and the awards were presented by Professor Robert Saint, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne and Julian Huxley, Fullback with the RaboDirect Rebels and a member of the Young Achiever Award Selection Committee.

Simon Davis, Professor Robert Saint, Julian Huxley, Antony James, Stefan Prelevic & Joy Gillies (representing her son Andrew) on the stage at the Weary Dunlop Lunch, November 10 2011

The runners up were ANTONY JAMES from Melbourne Grammar School and ANDREW GILLIES from St Kevin's who was sitting an Economics exam at the time and was represented by his parents Joy and Ian Gillies. Both boys were presented with certificates and offered a $1,500 Peter Hone Scholarship each as well as a Melbourne University Sport scholarship package including fitness centre membership if they choose to play at MURFC in 2012.

And the winner of the Young Achiever Award for 2011 was STEFAN PRELEVIC from Melbourne High School who was also presented with a certificate and receives a $2,500 tertiary scholarship from the University of Melbourne, a $2,500 rugby scholarship from the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club and a Melbourne University Sport scholarship package including fitness centre membership.

Stefan is Captain of the U18 Victorian Schools Division 1 team and is currently undergoing his Year 12 exams. When asked about his future plans for his rugby and academic careers he said that he would like to study Science at the University of Melbourne and would one day like to put on the Rebels jersey. Congratulations to Stefan and good luck in his future endeavours both on and off the rugby field!!

Julian Huxley, Simon Davis, Antony James, Stefan Prevelic, Kevin Culliver (Chair of the Victorian Schools Rugby Union), Joy Gillies and Tyronne Mitchell (Victorian Rugby Union State Representative Manager and Head Coach for the 1st XV at Melbourne Grammar School) pose for photographs after the announcement of the Winner of the 2011 Young Achiever Award.

Andrew Gillies, Stefan Prevelic and Antony James with their certificates after the Weary Dunlop Lunch at Crown Casino, Thursday 10 November 2011

For further details of the story you can check out the article from Volume 7, Number 11 of the Voice newspaper released Monday 14 November or head to the official website of the Melbourne Rebels.

The Selection Committee:

  • Professor Margaret Sheil

    Committee Chair
    Provost, the University of Melbourne
  • Tim Lee

    Committee Member
    Director of Sport, University of Melbourne
  • Kevin Culliver

    Committee Member
    Chair, Victorian Schools Rugby Union
  • Tyronne Mitchell

    Committee Member
    VRU State Representative Manager
  • Simon Davis

    Committee Member
    President, Melbourne University Rugby Football Club
  • Nick Bull

    Committee Member
    Nick is a Partner in the Business Advisory and Assurance division of Pitcher Partners.
  • Rod Warnecke

    Sport Development Manager, Melbourne University Sport

Our "Weary"

Weary Dunlop statue

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Ernest Edward "Weary"
Dunlop, AC, CMG, OBE (12 July 1907 – 2 July 1993)

Edward Dunlop grew up in Wangaratta, Victoria and attended Benalla High School. He started an apprenticeship in pharmacy when he finished school, and moved to Melbourne in 1927. There, he studied at the Victorian College of Pharmacy and then the University of Melbourne, where he obtained a scholarship in medicine. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1934 with first class honours in pharmacy and in medicine.

Whilst at university, Dunlop took up rugby union, commencing as a fourth grade player with the Melbourne University Rugby Club in 1931. He made a lightning-fast progression through the grades, to state and then to the national representative level becoming the first Victorian-born player to represent the Wallabies. He made his national representative debut against the All Blacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 23 July 1932 as a number 8. In the first Test of 1934 he again appeared for Australia, this time as a lock.

Australia won the match 25-11, and two weeks later the second and final match of that year's Bledisloe Cup series finished in a draw. Although Dunlop missed that match due to injury he stands as a member of the first Wallaby squad to have won the Bledisloe Cup away from New Zealand. Posthumously, in June 2008, he was inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame. To date, he is the only Victorian so honoured.

Dunlop had been a school cadet, and he continued his part-time army service until 1929, when his service ceased under pressure from his pharmacy studies. He re-enlisted in 1935 and was commissioned into the Australian Army Medical Corps on 1 July with the rank of Captain. In May 1938 Dunlop left Australia for London by boat. He was the ship's medical officer. In London he attended St Bartholomew's Medical School and in 1938 became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

weary dunlop in action

At the outbreak of World War II, Dunlop was appointed directly from London as VX259, to medical headquarters in the Middle East, where he developed the mobile surgical unit. In Greece he liaised with forward medical units and Allied headquarters, and at Tobruk he was a surgeon until the Australian Divisions were withdrawn for home defence. His troopship was diverted to Java in an ill-planned attempt to bolster the defences there. On 26 February 1942, he was promoted to temporary lieutenant-colonel. Dunlop became a Japanese prisoner of war in 1942 when he was captured in Bandung, Java, together with the hospital he was commanding.

Because of his leadership skills, he was placed in charge of prisoner-of-war camps in Java, despite not being the senior ranking officer there. He was later transferred briefly to Changi, and in January 1943 commanded the first Australians sent to work on the Thai segment of the Burma-Thailand railway. After being held in a number of camps in Java, he was eventually moved to the Thai-Burma railway, where prisoners of the Japanese were being used as forced labourers to construct a strategically important supply route between Bangkok and Rangoon. Conditions in the railway camps were primitive and horrific — food was totally inadequate, beatings were frequent and severe, there were no medical supplies, tropical disease was rampant, and the Japanese required a level of productivity that would have been difficult for fully fit and properly equipped men to achieve.

weary dunlop rugpy team

Along with a number of other Commonwealth Medical Officers, Dunlop's dedication and heroism became a legend among prisoners. A courageous leader and compassionate doctor, he restored morale in those terrible prison camps and jungle hospitals. Dunlop defied his captors, gave hope to the sick and eased the anguish of the dying. He became, in the words of one of his men, a lighthouse of sanity in a universe of madness and suffering. His example was one of the reasons why Australian survival rates were the highest on record.

After 1945, with the darkness of the war years behind him, Dunlop forgave his captors and turned his energies to the task of healing and building. He was to state later that, in suffering we are all equal. He devoted himself to the health and welfare of former prisoners-of-war and their families, and worked to promote better relations between Australia and Asia. He also served with surgical teams in another theatre of war, in Vietnam, in 1975.
He was active in many spheres of endeavor. In his own field of surgery, he pioneered new techniques against cancer. He became closely involved with a wide range of health and educational organizations, and his tireless community work had a profound influence on Australians and on the peoples of Asia. As well as numerous tributes and distinctions bestowed upon him in his own country, he received honors from Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.

In addition to his knighthood in 1967, 'Weary' Dunlop received many honours and awards throughout his life, including; the Order of the British Empire (1947); Companion of the Order of Australia (1987), Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (1992), Knight Grand Cross (1st Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Royal Crown of Thailand (1993); Honorary Fellow of the Imperial College London; Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; Honourary Life Member of the Returned and Services weary dunlop's murfc team photoLeague of Australia; and Life Governor of the Royal Women's Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. 'Weary' Dunlop has also received the honour of having the Canberra suburb of Dunlop named after him in 1993.

In 1976 he was named Australian of the Year and in 1988 he was named one of '200 Great Australians' (and according to his sons John and Alex, surely one of Australia's 200 worst motor car drivers!). His image is on the 1995 issue Australian fifty cent coin with the words They Served Their Country in World War II, 1939 - 1945, surrounded by strands of barbed wire!

'Weary' Dunlop also has a platoon named after him in the Army Recruit Training Centre, Blamey Barracks, Kapooka. Weary Dunlop Platoon is a holding platoon to recruits that want to leave recruit training.

The University of Melbourne Young Achiever Award will honour the spirit of Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop in its search for a student player who exemplifies the attributes that he made famous: leadership, academic endeavour and sporting excellence.

Other Scholarships

There is a range of other sporting scholarships available to students intending to enrol at the University of Melbourne to study. These scholarships include:

For more information regarding these Scholarships & Grants, contact Rod Warnecke, Sport Development Manager and Elite Athlete Contact Officer on 03 8344 8891 or via email:

Tim Davidson

"As part of the RaboDirect Rebels Five Star pledge, the Club continues to endorse the opportunity to have balance, and a life outside of the profession Rugby environment.

To be an ambassador for The University of Melbourne's Young Achiever Award Is a huge honour. It provides a genuine road for local schoolboys to become a Rebel, and the opportunity to receive a world class tertiary education in Melbourne.

The program will continue to search for students who demonstrate excellence, not just on the field and in the class, but also within their respective community."

Tom English


Hear more about the Melbourne Rebels at The Voice

News and Fixtures:

Rugby @ UoM:

Melbourne University Rugby Football Club (MURFC) is a foundation Club of the Victorian Rugby Union and has been an active participant since 1909 in the Victorian Premier Division, which is the leading level of rugby in Melbourne.

MURFC fields 3 teams in the Division across First, Second, and Third Grades. In 2011 we have 2 Colts (U21) teams and an over 35′s “Gents” team. Our members traditionally come from around the world including France, Ireland, New Zealand, Wales and the Pacific Islands. Joining MURFC is an excellent way to meet people if you are new to Melbourne and want to establish local and international social and professional contacts.

Our coaching group is led by Paul Webster (Head Coach) and Peter Grigg (former Wallaby). We also have access to former Wallabies Matt Cockbain and David Fitter, and have strong links to the VRU and the Melbourne Rebels. MURFC prides itself on offering all players a pathway to higher grades of rugby.

mrufc player mrufc game mrufc action

If you demonstrate talent you will progress through the grades and be released for representative duties.

Download the

MURFC centennial booklet

Coaching Clinic:

On Sunday 31 July, student players from the Victorian Schools Rugby Union (VSRU) players met at Visy Park (home of the Melbourne Rebels) to take part in a RaboDirect Rebels/University of Melbourne rugby coaching clinic. The young men and women were put through their paces by the Rebels players and coaches over a couple of hours with a variety of different training drills. This was then followed by a barbecue with parents, coaches and some of the Rebels players.

Click here to read more about what happened on the morning and see some of the photos taken at the clinic.