Bob Hitchcock was unassuming in many ways. His genial personality belied his strength of character, and he instilled a life-changing sense of values into many who had the benefit of being in his orbit as a coach and mentor.
Bob’s ability to translate the technical aspects of rugby union into the explainable was legendary. He could cut through; a quality possessed by the great coaches.
His ability to educate had its origins in his earlier life as a school teacher. His teaching career took him to Queanbeyan in 1963, thus starting a long association with the Whites, initially as a player, then as a coach.
His success with the Whites provided a platform that culminated in a coaching curriculum vitae, the likes of which may never be replicated in Canberra.
Bob’s resume included coaching the ACT representative team, the Australian under 21s, the Emerging Wallabies, the AIS Scholarship program, and he was on the coaching staff for two women’s World Cups in 1998 and 2002.
This overview does little to illustrate his role as a mentor to players and coaches. He was tough when required, but Bob also had the ability to provide guidance, especially to young players with plenty of talent but little in the way of life experience.
There was recognition along the way for his role in the lives of many in the sporting community. He became a Brumbies Life Member, was inducted in the ACT Sport Hall of Fame, received an OAM, was named ACT coach of the Year twice, a Life Member of the Queanbeyan Whites, and was honoured with the naming of the Bob Hitchcock Territory Shield, which rewards home-ground dominance in the John I Dent Cup.
For many years he was my co-commentator on ABC radio for ACT and then Brumbies games. It gave me a personal insight into what made Bob special to so many people.
An incredibly humble man with a love for family, rugby and the community.
His death at the age of 76 years, after a lengthy illness, will be felt by many.