Denis Donoghue (rugby league)
|Full name||Denis Reginald Donoghue|
Redfern, New South Wales
|Died||5 December 1993
Randwick, New South Wales
Denis Reginald Donoghue (1926-1993) was an Australian boxer, rugby league footballer, coach and administrator who starred in six premierships with the South Sydney Rabbitohs during their second 'Golden Era', represented New South Wales and Australia during the years of 1948–1957.
Returning from the War where he was an Royal Australian Navy Boxing champion, Donoghue commenced the shortest lower grade career in South Sydney history in 1948. After two games of third grade and just one of second, Donoghue cemented a first grade berth just four games into his career and stayed in the first grade team until retirement. His aggressive and relentless style of play ensured his rapid rise in the game.
A Rabbitohs legend and favourite son, Denis Donoghue played ten seasons for South Sydney between 1948–1957, playing 171 first grade games for the club and became a multi premiership winner with them.
He won man of the match honours in Souths Sydney's losing Grand Final side against St George Dragons in 1949, and starred in their subsequent premierships in 1950 and 1951. Donoghue played in the controversial 1952 Grand Final loss to Western Suburbs, where the referee was accused of costing Souths the game. Winning back to back premierships in 1953-4, his last grand final appearance was in Souths miracle 1955 campaign. Losing stars Greg Hawick and Clive Churchill mid season and running equal last, the bunnies won 11 consecutive games to take out the championship, beating Newtown by a single point.
Denis Donoghue was a fearsome, tough forward, and a crowd favourite at Redfern. Judges like Tom Goodman were quoted in the press at the time stating "he was the best front rower in the code". A rock-solid defender and strong runner of the ball, his specialty was scrummaging. He was the backbone of the South Sydney Rabbitohs pack, playing in seven grand finals and winning six of them. He retired to the Wollongong competition in 1957, playing as captain-coach for one year at the Collegians, before returning to the South Sydney Rabbitohs as first grade coach for the next five seasons.
Donoghue's representative career was plagued by injury. He represented New South Wales on ten occasions between 1950-1954. He also played in the winning 1951 City side that defeated Country, receiving man of the match honours. Donoghue was selected to represent Sydney against France during their 1951 tour of Australasia in a match that ended in a 19-all draw.
Donoghue was also part of the now infamous 1954 match between NSW and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground where referee Aub Oxford turned his back and walked off as almost all players stopped playing the game and commenced street brawling. To this day it remains the only top level game ever abandoned in rugby league history.
Selected for the Test against NZ in 1950, he was subsequently ruled out of the match due to injury. He debuted for Australia in 1951 against the touring French side, and was selected for the Kangaroo Tour in 1952. He broke his leg on the ship there and missed all six Test matches. Devastated, he immediately stood down from Test representative duties following it and refused to make himself available for selection He is listed on the Australian Players Register as Kangaroo No. 283.
One year after retiring as a player, Denis Donoghue became coach of South Sydney Rabbitohs in 1959 and stayed in that position until the end of the 1963 season. He recruited and/or developed many of the early playing careers of future stars such as John Sattler
He then became president of the South Sydney club in 1966 and stayed in the position through their third 'Golden Era' until the early 1970s. Under Donoghue's colourful presidency the bunnies won four out of five premierships in 1967-1971. 
In 2007 he was named at 'prop' by a panel of experts for an Australian Team of the 50s.
- Alan Whiticker- The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players, 2005
- ARL Annual 2005, (page 63)
- Sun Herald: "All in the game" by Tom Goodman. (Article: South Sydney AGM -Denis Donoghue, New President.- 11/12/1966 (page 78)
- Sydney Morning Herald: Death Notice: 07/12/1993