With great sadness, we advise the passing of New South Wales Touch Association Life Member, Rod Wise. The man affectionately known as ‘Wisey’ has left us with an outstanding example of volunteerism to follow.
Rod was a giant of our sport and a volunteer by which all volunteers are measured. His benchmark led to the creation and naming of the NSWTA’s most prestigious award in 2007, the Rod Wise Medal for Volunteer of the Year.
His involvement in the sport extends back over 45 years. It started over a beer at the Australian Hotel in Yass with Mick Benton. Before long, they were founding members of the Yass Touch Association, an organisation he was President of for many years. His passion for the sport and Yass itself saw Rod as one of the main drivers of the Yass Knockout. The Event became one of Australia’s most popular and respected grass root knockouts over the past 35 years. His vision and view on a collaborative approach saw the NSWTA partner with the Yass TA in delivering the Knockout in the early 2000s. While Rod may have stepped away from a leading role in the Yass TA and The Yass Knockout several years ago, he was always available to advise and assist when and where needed.
While his volunteerism at the Yass TA would be enough to fill a lifetime, his involvement in the then Region 1 (later to become the Southern Suns) as Regional Director would see him make an even more significant mark on the sport. It was a role that most people throughout NSW and Australia would associate and remember him with.
When you think of the Suns, you immediately think of Rod. He took on the Regional Director role in the old Region 1 in 1989 and remained there until 1997. He took a break for two years before returning and remained in the position until his retirement in 2006. Under his watch, Region 1 and the Southern Suns were a force in the sport and enjoyed success not seen before or since. While many committee members aided Rod in those years, even they would acknowledge that Rod’s drive and passion for the region was the critical element of continually moving forward as a region, both on the field of play and in its administration.
As Regional Director, he championed not just his region but country touch football as a whole, and he was a leading voice in the resurrection of the City versus Country games. He always worked collaboratively with the NSWTA Board and Office but was well aware of keeping the organisation accountable and asking questions when needed.
After a lifetime of dedication, passion, and commitment to the sport across NSW, Rod was awarded Life Membership of the NSW Touch Association in 2006—the twelfth person to receive such a high honour since the organisation’s foundation in 1972.
To Janelle, Camille, Angela, Andrew, Laura, and the extended Wise family, please know that our community is mourning your loss, and we send our collective strength and wishes to you all at this sad time.
Rod will be missed by many across the sport, from his wise counsel to his drive, love of the Suns, dry wit, and cheeky grin and not to mention his racing tips which always seemed to come after the race was run and won. It is, however, nice to know and, in our eyes, somewhat fitting that Rod’s last ‘official’ touch football role was that he was able to, although not well at the time, present his medal at the NSWTA Golden Jubilee Dinner in October 2022.
Rest in Peace, sir. You should be rightfully proud of the legacy you have left with us all to carry on in your name.