The player they used to call ‘Rambo’ – legendary centre-backrower Ron Gibbs – has been recognised for his fundraising efforts benefitting kids in the bush who love sport.
Gibbs, who played 153 first grade games for Eastern Suburbs, Manly, the Gold Coast and Western Suburbs, was a fearsome opponent who still shows the same kind of relentlessness when it comes to helping young athletes in outback NSW.
Gibbs is a frequent visitor to the Barwon Darling region which includes Collarenebri, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Bourke and Brewarrina as well as the Outback Rugby League area taking in Wilcannia, Menindee and Broken Hill Rugby League competitions.
He has helped raise thousands of dollars across a wide range of sporting and community causes.
And for his good deeds the Dubbo Regional Council has given him its highest community honour, the Tony McGrane Award, at a reception in the city’s Theatre and Convention Centre to honour 12 ‘Dubbo Day’ winners.
The Dubbo Day Awards are presented each year on 23 November to mark the anniversary of Dubbo’s gazettal as a Village on 23 November, 1849.
The Tony McGrane award is named in honour of the man who was Mayor of Dubbo from 1991 to 1999. He was later elected to NSW Parliament as the Member for Dubbo until his death in 2004.
Gibbs fitted the bill well as being another man dedicated to his community.
“He seems to have an endless supply of memorabilia and access to lots of giveaways that he sources across the nation,” a council statement said.
“He donates these to fund-raising events for raffles and charity auctions.
“He often arranges packs for kids in vulnerable communities which will include footballs, shirts, shorts and boots.”
Gibbs organises a fundraiser each year as part of the ‘Ronny Gibbs 7s’ tournament. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not held for the past two years.
But it will be back in 2022 with all the money raised divided to help various community organisations, including the Far West Academy of Sport.
Gibbs, now 59, retired from Rugby League in 1991 and has been working in Dubbo and outback NSW since the late 1990s. He has been a volunteer referee, coach, weekend helper and constant “ear” for troubled youth.
He has been called on informally by police, Aboriginal Liaison Officers, Education Department officers and local school teachers, to talk with young people who might need some help.
“The awards recognise our remarkable volunteers who are the building blocks of our community,” said Dubbo Region Mayor, Councillor Stephen Lawrence.
“This year’s recipients are a diverse group of people who have made varying and significant contributions to Dubbo, by dedicating their own time and resources to improving the lives of their fellow citizens. I would like to congratulate and thank each one of them.”