Cyril Burke

Cyril Burke

Cyril Burke
Full name Cyril Thomas Burke
Date of birth (1925-11-07)7 November 1925
Place of birth Waratah, New South Wales, Australia
Date of death 18 January 2010(2010-01-18) (aged 84)
Place of death Mount Hutton, New South Wales, Australia
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Scrum-half
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
Newcastle Waratahs
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
New South Wales 36
correct as of 31 December 2007.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1946–56[1] Australia 26[1] 6[1]
correct as of 31 December 2007.

Cyril Thomas Burke BEM (7 November 1925 – 18 January 2010)[2] was an Australian rugby union player, a state and national representative scrum-half who made twenty-six Test[1] appearances for the Wallabies between 1946 and 1956.

Playing career

Born in Waratah near Newcastle, New South Wales he had a long association with the Newcastle Waratahs club as both a player and coach. He made thirty-six state representative appearances for New South Wales (also called the "Waratahs").

His Australian representative debut was made against the All Blacks at Eden Park in 1946[1] and the following year he played in two domestic Tests against New Zealand when they toured Australia. He was selected in the 1947–48 Australia rugby union tour of the British Isles, Ireland, France and North America where he played in all five Tests.[3] He made seven overseas rugby tours including New Zealand in 1949 and South Africa in 1953 and met those same nations as well as the British and Irish Lions in several Test series played in Australia.


Tressider quotes from a 1988 interview with 1947 Wallaby captain Trevor Allan reflecting on the tour: "I have fond memories of the tour, none better than Cyril Burke, the little Newcastle halfback who, with Col Windon, had most impact on our games. The opposition simply never knew when he was going to put the foot down on the accelerator or pull off that fantastic sidestep"'.[4] His 1947 tour teammate Sir Nicholas Shehadie described him as follows: "Size was no handicap for this masterhalf-back, certainly the best I ever played with in my career. He had the biggest sidestep I ever saw from any player, delivered quick-fire service from the scrums and rucks and had a keen eye for a possible gap".[5]


On 15 June 1974, Burke was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of service to sport.[6] He was awarded the Australian Sports Medal on 29 September 2000.[7] The Cyril Burke Medal was named in his honour, and is presented annually to the top player in the New South Wales First Division.



Online references

  • Burke rugby career at

Published sources

  • Collection (1995) Gordon Bray presents The Spirit of Rugby, Harper Collins Publishers Sydney
  • Howell, Max (2005) Born to Lead – Wallaby Test Captains, Celebrity Books, Auckland NZ
  • Shehadie, Nicholas (2003) A Life Worth Living, Simon & Schuster Australia