Gordon Head Coach – 1990 to 1995 (Premierships – 1993 and 1995)
Waratahs Head Coach – 1996
Gordon Head Coach – 1998 (Premiership)
It is with great sadness that we inform the Gordon Highlanders family of the passing of one of our beloved sons, Chris Hawkins.
For the players and supporters of the 1990s, Chris played a major and successful role in this period of the Club history. With three Premierships during his time at the Club, Chris was renowned for his straight talking and frank assessment of players but also for his humour and ability to bring out the best in people.
Some words from his players:
Chris came to the club with great coaching raps. And he didn’t let us down, with shrewd recruitment that built on existing players and quality colts coming through. We had just started to get back on the road as a club after a disappointing decade in the 80’s and it wasn’t long before he made his mark.
In many ways he was ahead of his time as a coach. His unique style of coaching and people management skills enabled him to find the balance between hard work and fun. His skills under fatigue drills and introduction of sprint coaching and other strategies led to our success.
He always made training fun and the warm-up sessions on Tuesday were a highlight of the week where he would ‘analyze’ individual players – in front of everyone – with humour and encouragement. It just made us want to be better and play better for each other, the coaches, and the Club. His outspoken confidence as a person and coach led to confidence in us and that led to several premierships and many point scoring records along the way. Players under his guidance progressed to State and Wallaby honours. Forwards even became backs under his guidance! Chris also himself progressed to Head Waratahs Coach.
He made rugby a family event, bringing in the wives and girlfriends. He was a master of the media and was never shy of the reporters, always ready to throw a few stories at them to distract them and use them to his advantage. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know him and be coached by him will always be in debt for the success that he and his team of coaches brought to Gordon. He was a person who gave it all and we will all miss him.
Not sure how many of you guys know but I became very close to Chris. We would catch up every month or 2 for lunch and invariably our chat would revert to the 90’s and how successful the Club was….he loved you guys and the teams that made that decade so cherished, he spoke so fondly of you. He would always insist on paying for lunch but I always said I’d get the next one. Next one would come around and as I went to bathroom and came back, he’d already paid. I insisted next one was mine…. only problem was when we walked in he’d slip the waitress his card and paid before we’d ordered. Then he would make the booking and give his credit card before we got there.
One of my favourite stories was the ’93 Grand Final and we had 1’s. 3’s and 4’s playing; I was coaching 3’s. The game was a sell out and I couldn’t get a ticket for my dad; Hawko said ‘he can have my ticket’; I said well how are you going to get in? He said I’ll work it out. I get to the gates at Concord and sure enough there’s Hawko calmly explaining to security that he’s the coach and if he’s not allowed in could they pass on these final instructions to the team just prior to taking to the field. At about this stage The Highlander Plumber turns up and Hawko is giving him a lesson of how to throw straight into a lineout during the pressure of a Grand Final. At this stage boofy security guard says you’re either the coach or an idiot, just don’t cause any trouble. We walk in together, he throws his arm around me and says ‘see, I told you I’d get your old man a ticket’.
The best thing was, we never lost a lineout that day.