The Australian Rugby League is today mourning the loss of former Chairman and co-founder of State Of Origin football, Mr. Kevin Humphreys, who passed away at 80 years of age after his battle with diabetes.
Kevin was a prop-forward who played 43 games for the Balmain Tigers during the 1953-1956 seasons. More importantly, he was a highly regarded and successful administrator who was the architect of many of the commercial successes which Rugby League is now the beneficiary of.
Kevin was the Secretary of the Balmain Tigers from 1965 and was its first full time employee. He was in charge of the Tigers when they won their famous 1969 premiership victory against South Sydney. He went on to become President of the New South Wales Rugby League and Chairman of the Australian Rugby League.
In 1976 he became the first full-time executive director of the NSWRL and oversaw many of the changes that the code experienced during the 1970s and 1980s including the introduction of sponsorships, which are now so critical to the commercial strength of the game, the introduction of the midweek Amco Cup knockout competition and various rule changes including increasing the value of a try from three points to four points.
Perhaps his greatest legacy was his involvement in the introduction of State of Origin football which celebrates its thirtieth season this year and which has become one of the biggest spectacles in our game.
ARL Chairman Colin Love today paid tribute to a man who dedicated his life to Rugby League.
“It is a sad day for both the Australian Rugby League and the New South Wales Rugby League,” Mr Love said.
“Kevin, along with Ron McAuliffe, was the brains behind State of Origin which is now one of the great spectacles of our game.
“Kevin was a wonderful administrator and a great servant of the game.
“He will be deeply missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”