|Date of birth||9 March 1890|
|Place of birth||Brunswick, Australia|
|Date of death||25 April 1915(aged 25)|
|Place of death||Gallipoli Turkey|
|Debut||15 May 1909, University
v. St Kilda, at Junction Oval
University (1909,1911)7 Games, 2 Goals
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 2005 season.
Born in Brunswick, Balfe attended Princes Hill State School before earning a scholarship to attend University High School, Melbourne. Rupert decided after High School that he would study medicine. He attended Melbourne University for his degree and accomplished it. During his years at the University he played for the VFL Football Club.
The True Athlete
He played Australian rules football for VFA Club Brunswick whilst enjoying athletics at University High. He played in a Grand Final with Brunswick against Footscray, along with his two brothers, Harold and Stan. Balfe, a wingman, broke his arm during the match and that turned the game, with Footscray winning by 24 points. When at Melbourne University, he became a classy footballer with the VFL/AFL side University, but due to studies he was limited. He played on 1 game in season 1909–1910, making his debut in 1909, but in 1911 he came back, and allowed for 6 more games, before ending a football career for athletics.
He had always been a great athlete, especially in field athletics. He was a High School champion athletics, winning the 100,200 and 400 yards handicaps, long jump, high jump and 120 yards hurdles. In 1913 he was runner-up in the Victorian long jump.
World War I
It was announced on 2 September 1914 that he would be a Second Lieutenant with the 6th Battalion in the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Rupert Balfe died on the infamous ANZAC Day at Gallipoli, Turkey, at the age of 25. He was one of many players from the VFL during the World Wars who lost their lives.
A Remembered Friend
Balfe had a strong friendship with Robert Menzies, who was studying Law at Melbourne University. Menzies went on to become the Prime Minister of Australia from 1939–1941, 1949–1966. Menzies wrote a poem for the late Balfe which appeared in several local newspapers on 16 July 1915.
In Memoriam Lieut. J.R. Balfe, Killed in Action, Gallipoli, July 1915
His was the call that came from far away –
An Empire's message flashing o'er the sea –
The call to arms! The blood of chivalry
Pulsed quicker in his veins; he could not stay!
Let others wait; for him the glorious day
Of tyrants humbled and a world set free
Had dawned in clouds and thunder; with a glee
Born not of insensate madness for the fray,
But rather of a spirit noble, brave,
And kindled by a heart that wept at wrong,
He went. The storms of battle round him rave
And screaming fury o'er him chants its song,
Sleep, gallant soul! Though gone thy living breath,
Thou liv'st for aye, for thou has conquered death!"
- List of Australian military personnel killed at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915
- List of Victorian Football League players who died in active service
- Despite various suggestions given over time, related to particular individuals, it is clear that, because, at least, six former VFL footballers were killed during the chaos of the landing at Anzac Cove — Rupert Balfe (University, Alan Cordner (Geelong and Collingwood), Claude Crowl (St Kilda), Charlie Fincher (South Melbourne), Fen McDonald (Carlton and Melbourne), and Joe Pearce (Melbourne) — it can never be definitively argued that one of these men was "the first VFL footballer killed in the First World War".
- "MVM 1915". Menzies Virtual Museum. Archived from the original on 2010-07-31. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Main, J. & Allen, D., "Balfe, Rupert", pp. 14–16 in Main, J. & Allen, D., Fallen — The Ultimate Heroes: Footballers Who Never Returned From War, Crown Content, (Melbourne), 2002. ISBN 1-74095-010-0
- 51st casualty list.