Catch, Pass and Support the Genie


Mark Ella is another player who didn’t depend on rugby union for his life satisfaction.

I wrote recently that if a player’s mind is distracted by other important issues and goals, and his goal isn’t to play well or win a game, he performs better.

Was Mark Ella playing for his native people rather than Mark Ella the person?

His performances were not based on ego. Otherwise, why would you retire at the tender age of 25?

Fame and fortune awaited him. I guess Ella’s parents must have instilled in her a great awareness of what celebrity status would do to her.

Instead, he followed another path, which was much more rewarding. The character of the man showed itself when he received the Order of Australia, when he wondered if he deserved such an honor, when many other people were doing more demanding work.

Rugby was just a part of his life, not his whole life. Today we see players who rely on rugby for their sole occupation and meaning.

If they are hurt or let go, what are they left with?

Our experts Brett McKay, Harry Jones and Geoff Parkes take a look at the Super Rugby contenders in Episode 1 of our new podcast. Click below to play or follow on Spotify.

Mark Ella still had a lot to do and seemed to be moving smoothly into new careers and opportunities.

He grew up in a family of 12 children and his parents knew the importance of having a good education, which Ella instilled in her own children as well.

I don’t know if a good education helps a rugby player or if being a good rugby player helps his education?

Ella’s sister Marcia played netball for Australia and the whole family enjoyed academic and athletic success.

Mark’s brothers, Glen and Gary, also played for Australia. Born in Sydney and educated at Matraville High School, the brothers were members of the undefeated Australian Schools team “Invincibles” from 1977-78.

The three brothers had an almost telepathic understanding between them, which can be compared to the famous Going brothers from Northland, New Zealand.

All Blacks scrum half Sid Going heads the ball for the All Blacks against the Lions. (Credit: Adrian Murrell/Allsport/Getty Images)

I just had a thought: can you imagine a Goings and Ellas backline? It might take a bit of reworking, but it would be impossible to find the ball!

Ella also led the Randwick club team to five consecutive titles from 1978 to 1982.

Mark Gordon Ella was born in La Pérouse, New South Wales in 1959. He first came into contention for the Wallabies when he played for NSW and Sydney in 1979 against the Irish on tour.

After Bob Templeton became coach, Ella was selected for the Wallabies tour of Argentina, also earning selection for the 1980 tour of Fiji.

Ella made his Test debut against the All Blacks in 1980, when the Wallabies won their first three-Test series since 1949.

His pass around the body to Michael Hawker in the third test became one of his famous moments.

In a conservative approach, he was dropped for Paul McLean against the French in 1981 but was reinstated in the Second Test when McLean was selected at the back.

In 1982, Ella was made captain of the Wallabies aged 23 for their New Zealand tour.

He captained the Wallabies a total of ten times. They were a depleted team that lost the series 2-1 but scored 47 tries in 14 matches.

The defining moment in Mark Ella’s career came during the Wallabies tour of the UK in 1984, when the Wallabies defeated the home four nations of Ireland, Scotland, England and the Country. of Wales during their Grand Slam expedition.

Andrew Slack was the chosen skipper ahead of Ella for the tour. Ella scored a try in each Test, which he also achieved on the 1977 Schoolboys Tour.

The principle of catching, passing and supporting practiced by Mark Ella proved to be of enormous benefit to the Wallabies team.

He stood flat near the scrum, making him an easy target for the opposing flanker, who was then taken out of play. A quick grab and pass to his outsides led to the spread.

Once the outside backs were clear, Ella accelerated to offer her support inside or outside the dominant runner. The hard work was done, now he had an easy walk to the try line.

It’s such a simple philosophy that it’s a wonder other dead ends haven’t emulated it. Maybe the required skill level was too high to copy such a blueprint? Michael Lynagh was the one who followed the catch, pass and support theory.

Gareth Edwards, the great Welsh half-back, wrote: “In rugby the word liaison man is almost a cliché, yet it is the word I have to choose to sum up Mark’s gifts. Running without a ball is a real sign of greatness.

the London Observer described him as “the detonator, which blasts the brilliance out of Australian backs”.

After the tour, Mark Ella made the shocking announcement that he was retiring. Was he unhappy with the more serious approach of Wallabies coach Alan Jones?

In 2021, he donated his five shirts from the 1984 tour to the Australian Rugby Museum.

From 1979 to 1984, Mark also played for the Australian Sevens team, winning three Hong Kong tournaments.

Marc Ella

(Photo by Getty Images)

He also played in Milan, Italy with teammate David Campese. Campese praised Ella as “the best rugby player I have known or seen”.

Roger Gould, Simon Poidevin, Michael Hawker and Michael O’Connor confirmed that Ella was one of the greatest players they had seen. Hawker said, “Ella changed the precepts of how the game could be played.”

Rugby League Immortal Wally Lewis, who played with Ella on the Schoolboys Tour, called Ella “the best player he’s seen in rugby union or league”.

Ella was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1987 and in 2013, sports magazine Inside Rugby named him as one of their four Invincibles, along with David Campese, Colin Windon and Ken Catchpole.

In 1982 Ella was named Young Australian of the Year and in 1988 he was tour manager for the Aboriginal Cricket Association in England.

In 2005 he was honored as one of the first five inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame and in 1997 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

After his retirement, Mark Ella became director of Horton Ella Marketing, responsible for marketing strategies for the Bundaberg Rum Company.

He worked for NITV, Australia’s free-to-air Aboriginal television channel. In 2011, he became executive producer and head of NITV sport.

Mark Ella was like a comet sweeping across the night sky. It burned brightly for a fleeting period, but left people in awe of what they saw.

Did he come out at the right time and is this a lesson for others? If this is your only income, as it is for many rugby players today, you have no choice but to stay and try to build a future.

But what happens when it fails? It goes to show that as an amateur player it was important to plan for life after rugby, whether that be studying or working in a chosen profession.

There are many adjectives to describe Ella: mercurial, silky, brilliant and incomparable.

He is the second of my favorite Wallabies players.




Sports Grp2

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button