John Ballesty

John Patrick Ballesty (born 20 May 1945) in Strathfield, New South Wales is an Australian former national representative rugby union player who also played first-grade rugby league with the Eastern Suburbs club.

Rugby union

Ballesty was schooled at St.Patrick's College Strathfield, at the time they played rugby league not rugby union. He left school and initially played rugby union for Sydney Teachers College (STC). On mass a group of STC players joined Eastwood rugby culminating in a grand final loss in 1966 against a strong Randwick team brimming with Wallabies including Ken Catchpole.

Ballesty was Eastwood's first Wallaby test player and the third Australian national representative to come from the Eastwood Rugby Club when he debuted against the All Blacks in Sydney in June 1968. Ballesty had replaced Wallby great Phil Hawthorne who had switched to rugby league and the St.George Dragons. That test All Black great Coin Meads tore the hamstring of Wallaby great Ken Catchpole. The injury so severe it prematurely retired Catchpole from the game and he never played again. That same year he kicked the match winning field goal in a Test match against the France. He played in 9 tests between 1968 and 1969 for the Wallabies at fly-half before switching codes. He captained Australia in three minor matches in 1969.[1]

Rugby league

In 1970 Ballesty joined the Eastern Suburbs club alongside former Wallaby team mates John Brass and Alan Cardy. In 1972 he was a try-scorer in the Roosters side that lost to Manly Warringah in that year's Grand final and he received the Player of the Year award from Australian rugby league's major publication, Rugby League Week. In 1972 former Wallaby and current kangaroo Phil Hawthorne joined the Roosters but Ballesty kept Hawthorne in reserve grade. While at Easts he trained in club management before leaving to play for the Queanbeyan Blues under his Roosters coach Don Furner at the end of the 1973 season. Ballesty played NSW Country Firsts 1975-77, in 1975 when City-Country wasn't origin based but where you played, Country defeated City 19-9 in a great upset. Country was led by past Sydney premiership players Jim Morgan and Ballesty. Future star Michael Cronin kicked 5 goals. The City side contained 4 players later named in the team of the century Graeme Langlands, Robert Fulton, Ron Coote and Arthur Beetson. County never defeated City again until the rules were changed to origin of birth. Much like the State teams in rugby league. Playing in the country meant Ballesty wasn't seen by state and national selectors regularly enough to be picked. He retired in 1979.

After football

Ballesty returned to the Eastwood Rugby Union Club in 1980 where he held the role of Secretary-Manager and coach for two years. In that time he lifted Eastwood into First Division with the help of young future Wallabies Brett Papworth and Steve Tuynman. Papworth later mirrored Ballesty's career leaving Eastwood to join the Roosters. In 1982 Ballesty joined the Canterbury Bankstown Leagues Club in 1982 as General Manager. At the time the Bulldogs were close to insolvency and the team on the brink of folding. He remains General Manager at Canterbury Leagues currently, it is financially Australia's largest single licensed club. He is married with 4 children, Martin, Brendan, Scott and Kate.


  1. Howell p13


External links

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