Raper To Be Remembered at State Funeral

Wednesday, February 9

NRL

The State Funeral Service for Australian rugby league ‘Immortal’ John Raper MBE will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Monday, 28 February at 10.30am. 

Mr Raper’s family accepted the offer of a State Funeral by the NSW Government in recognition of his remarkable contribution to the sport of rugby league.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said Mr Raper, who passed away last week aged 82 after a long battle with dementia, was regarded as the greatest rugby league lock forward, with some experts considering him the best rugby league player ever.

“A State Funeral is a worthy tribute for Johnny Raper who was one of the most loved players in the history of rugby league. It’s only fitting that family, friends and supporters gather at the SCG in recognition of his achievements and life,” Mr Perrottet said.

The State Funeral will be an important opportunity to honour and pay tribute to his contributions with his family, friends, dignitaries and members of the public. The family selected the SCG for the service due to its strong connection to him as he was a lifetime member and won eight consecutive grand finals there with his beloved St George Dragons. 

The service at the SCG will be an outdoor seated event. Attendees at the SCG will be required to follow appropriate COVID-19 measures. 

Gates to the SCG for the Funeral Service will open at 9.45am and guests and members of the public will need to be seated by 10.15am sharp. The Funeral will also be live streamed for people unable to attend from 10.30am.

Mr Raper was born in Camperdown in Sydney’s inner west and grew up in a working-class family of nine boys. He played junior rugby league for the Camperdown Dragons before representing Newtown's President's Cup side in 1956. A year later, aged 17, he made his first-grade debut for Newtown. In 1958, he represented Sydney as a lock against Great Britain.

Mr Raper won the Clive Churchill Medal in 1966; was named an Immortal in 1981; was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985; was awarded an MBE from Britain in 2000 for Australian Sports; inducted into the Australian Rugby League and International Hall of Fame in 2002; and named in Team of the Century in 2008. 

For further details on the Funeral including arrival entry points, the live stream and the online condolence book visit nsw.gov.au/stateservices.

Originally posted as 'Vale Johnny Raper'

Venues NSW and the Sydney Cricket Ground is mourning the loss of Rugby League Immortal and St George great, Johnny Raper, who passed away today aged 82.


A key member of St George’s golden era, which saw the club win 11 consecutive premierships, Raper played 185 matches for his beloved St George, winning eight NSWRFL grand finals.

Arguably the greatest all-round player in rugby league history, Raper was the ultimate team player who would rise for game’s biggest moments, from grand finals to representative football with NSW and Australia.

In 2008, Raper was made an SCG Life Member, which coincided with the Centenary of Rugby League. He was an inaugural inductee to the SCG Walk of Honour. 


Venues NSW Chairman Tony Shepherd paid tribute to Raper.

“Johnny was one of the greatest rugby league players ever to play the game and it is a very sad day to lose such a true icon,” Shepherd said.

“Johnny played his first game at the SCG in an under-8s match and went on to compile one of the most impressive sporting resumes ever seen, including eight straight St George premierships, and captaining Australia to World Cup victory in 1968.

“On behalf of Venues NSW and the Sydney Cricket Ground, our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Johnny’s family, friends and his former team mates during this time.”

In an interview with the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2014, Raper spoke of his love for the famous ground.

“This ground (the SCG) when you run out on it and see the crowd on it, you can do nothing else bar play a good game of football – it is unbelievable,” Raper said in the 2014 interview.  

“The feeling when you run out there, especially when you’re playing against the world champions like Great Britain – it just lifts you.”

The flags at the SCG have been lowered to half-mast today in honour of the legendary Johnny Raper.

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