31 May 2020

Farewell Mark McInnes, one of ACT rugby’s greatest home-grown players

| Tim Gavel
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Mark (Spider) McInnes

Mark (Spider) McInnes played 36 representative games for the ACT. Photo: Brumbies.

Only injury prevented Mark McInnes, a towering back-rower, from playing for the Wallabies.

The man known to all and sundry as ‘Spider’ died earlier this week.

In a stellar career, 1989 was a standout. That year Mark captained Easts, was named the best player in the ACT competition, and was selected in the Wallaby squad for the tour of Canada and France.

He didn’t end up playing a test but played in four non-test matches on that tour, against the North American Wolverines, Languedoc Regional Selection, Auvergne Selection and Ile de France.

Such was his emergence that it was predicted that Mark would break into the test line-up the following year.

I well remember the events that unfolded in 1990 when he suffered a serious knee injury playing for the ACT against NSW.

Had it not been for this injury, rugby analysts believe he would have certainly been selected as the number 8 against France, the United States and the All Blacks. The injury curtailed his aspirations and he struggled to be the same player after that.

Mark’s football career began at the great Canberra nursery, St Edmunds College, whose ex-students include the likes of Ricky Stuart, George Gregan and David Furner. Mark played college rugby from 1971 to 1981 and in his last year at college played for the ACT Schoolboys XV.

From 1982 to 1985 he played for the Vikings club in Wollongong and the Port Hacking club in the Sydney grade competition while he completed his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner.

He made his first-grade debut for Easts in 1986 and was selected in the ACT senior representative XV the same year. He won the Tommy Byrne Memorial Trophy as the best and fairest first grade player in the ACT competition in 1987 and was appointed captain of Easts 1st Grade in 1989, the year he also won the prestigious MacDougall Medal.

Mark played 36 representative games for the ACT between 1986 and 1990 and also played for Wasps (England) and Peebles (Scotland).

The memories, though, that many will have is the image of a player as tough as they come and with the ability to dominate a game through sheer tenacity.

ACT Rugby has lost an element of its soul, a connection with the pre-Brumbies days with the passing of Mark at the age of 56 years.

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John Steggall6:15 pm 01 Jun 20

When asked ‘what makes you such a good player?’ Spider said ‘every game I have to show that I am the best player on the field’. And to Easts’ benefit, he certainly did. No more coffees at Kaleen shops… RIP, mate.

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