Matraville Sports High School basks in return of greats
Former student, teacher and once-again Wallabies coach Eddie Jones made a triumphant return to Matraville Sports High School. Glenn Cullen reports.
01 February 2023
It may not have had the sports high moniker back in 1977, but Matraville was anything but an ordinary suburban school.
With four future Wallabies – Lloyd Walker and Mark, Glen and Gary Ella – playing for the school’s first XV, there was already more than just a glimpse into the future for the remarkable eastern suburbs’ institution.
While the focus may have shifted to rugby league after Matraville earned its stripes in 2001 as one of seven NSW sports high schools, the roll call of names continues. From Adam Reynolds to Josh Addo-Carr and Moniqca Moale, the talent has continued to shine brightly into the 2000s.
The school’s aura is such that it seemed like the perfect place to host the return of another of its favourite sons, Eddie Jones.
Another member of the fabled ’77 rugby side, Jones may not have gone on to play for the Wallabies but he’s more than left his mark in the coaching world, with national roles for Australia, England and Japan on his impressive resume.
He’s been reinstalled in the Wallabies role for a second stint starting this year, but his return to his former alma mater proved just as stirring.
“Mark, Glen, Gary and I were talking out there (on the school’s sports field) and we’ve got the fourth Ella, a red-headed one, Greg [Stores], who played on the wing,” Jones said.
“We left here in 1977 and to come back here now is pretty special. It’s a good feeling. It’s quite emotional.”
Jones recalled schooldays of free-flowing rugby games with the brilliant Ella brothers as well as playing cricket and league.
He also remembered coming back to the school and “very badly” teaching mathematics.
Still, he couldn’t have been too bad as he progressed up the ranks and gained some valuable insights into the school system.
“Having been a teacher myself and having been an acting principal for 18 months you understand the importance of a well-rounded curriculum and you understand that the academic part is super important,” he said.
“The sport, and the physical activity and recreation is also so important.”
With so many sports to choose from now, rugby will have a battle to win the hearts and minds of up-and-coming athletes at the school but with the likes of Jones pushing the cause you wouldn’t back against the 15-man code making a significant mark again.
“It was great to welcome not only Eddie back here but also Mark, Gary and Glen Ella; they were such wonderful rugby players and exceptional ambassadors for Matraville Sports High School,” the school's acting principal William Lundon said.
“In a lot of ways, they set the blueprint for the ongoing success we’ve had here at Matraville.
“They were not only gifted athletes but extremely hard workers who’ve gone on to have successful careers once their playing days ended.”