Team Captain, 1996
The 1996 Terrace First XV will be remembered for delivering a great, yet unexpected result for the season. In winning the 1996 premiership, the team cemented its place in history, but will be remembered for its tenacity and ability to perform under pressure and against more fancied rivals.
In previous editions of Brave & Game, we have heard from member of the 1996 team who have all praised the inspirational leadership of team captain, Luke Donald.
On the eve of Terrace’s final home game of the season against Churchie, it is fitting that we interview Luke to capture his memories of those hard-fought battles that secured the team the 1996 GPS premiership and his thoughts on what it means to represent Terrace.
B & G: So Luke, it’s been ten years since you won the premiership in 1996. Do you still think about that season?
Luke: Absolutely. I still have very fond memories of that season. When a couple of us from the team get together, we still like reliving some of the highlights ten years on.
B & G: Did you play any rugby when you left school? How did other seasons compare to that one?
Luke: I played rugby up until about two years ago and that one definitely stands out above the rest. So much hard work and preparation went into that season and to be undefeated premiers was incredible.
B & G: What do you think is great about rugby?
Luke: I think the two best things about rugby are probably the mateship that it provides and the intense competitive environment it creates that pushes you to achieve your best.
B & G: And how about playing rugby for Terrace?
Luke: Pulling on that red and black jersey is just such a great feeling. When you play, it’s not just for you or your school but it’s to uphold the tradition of those that have gone before you.
B & G: What do you believe to be the most important characteristics of a good rugby team?
Luke: Teamwork is definitely at the top of the list with communication as well. Commitment is also extremely important.
B & G: As captain did you feel like there was added pressure on you?
Luke: No, not really. My job was pretty easy because the whole team really supported me and helped me with the role. Help from David Croft and Tim McMeniman especially made my job a lot easier.
B & G: When you were playing in the younger grades, did you ever think that you might win the G.P.S rugby premiership?
Luke: Well in under 13, under 14 and under 15’s we use to get beaten every week – fairly convincingly too! So the idea of us winning the 1st XV premiership at that stage was not even thought of.
B & G: This Saturday the 1st XV are playing Churchie. Do you remember the game against them that season?
Luke: Yes that was a fairly fiery clash that one. There was a lot of heated discussion going on that led to a few tussles but nothing major. It was essentially a real battle in the forwards and we ended up winning, but it was a close game.
B & G: What other games stand out in your mind?
Luke: The Nudgee game is always one that I’ll remember. At schoolboy level it is probably one of the biggest games in the country. You get messages of support from oldboys living all around Australia and overseas so it’s a big a deal. Winning that game was the highlight of my schoolboy rugby career.
The last game against Ipswich was also memorable one as well. They were considered to be a fairly good team with a tough rugby league background and we ended up beating them easily to win the premiership. I was out through injury for that game though, which was unfortunate.
B & G: And how did you injure yourself?
Luke: Well the week before against Toowoomba I was hitting the ball up and somehow managed to break my collarbone.
B & G: For Terrace, this is the final round of the G.P.S competition. What would you say to the 1st XV before they run on?
Luke: Hit hard in defence and run even harder in attack. It’s your last game in the red and black jersey – enjoy every moment of it!
Luke Donald completed senior at Terrace in 1996. He worked for Castlemaine Perkins for six years.
He is currently completing a Bachelor of Business, majoring in management.