Between 1980 and 1991, Simon Poidevin represented Australia in 59 rugby union Tests scoring 5 tries (20 points). At the time of his retirement, he was Australia’s most capped rugby union forward, and the nation’s most capped player behind his Randwick and Australian teammate David Campese.
In 1976 he was selected in the Australian Schoolboys side, and began his international career at the age of 21 on Saturday May 24, 1980 against Fiji in Suva, Australia winning 22-9. Since making his Test debut, he was dropped only once, against Scotland in 1982.
Playing as a flanker, he toured the world with the Wallabies until 1991, finishing his career with the triumphant World Cup campaign. He captained the team in 1986 for the tour of New Zealand and 1987 for the World Cup in South America. Poidevin became Australia’s most capped Test forward (during the 1987 World Cup) after breaking the old record set by former Test hooker Peter Johnson.
He announced his retirement from representative rugby midway through 1988 but was persuaded back for the three Test Bledisloe Cup series against New Zealand. Despite his best efforts, Australia was easily defeated and after the third Test he announced his retirement from international rugby.
The following year his absence was clearly visible as Australia crumbled against the iron hard forwards of the British Lions. As a result of pleas from officialdom and a desire to do battle once again with Wayne “Buck” Shelford, Poidevin returned to face New Zealand the same season. The Test was lost 24-12, but Poidevin had helped restore Australian pride and was able to pass on invaluable experience to newcomers such as Phil Kearns and Tim Gavin.
He sat out the 1990 season, but was back again in 1991 to join Australia’s preparations for the World Cup. His first challenge was to help nullify the English pack in a one off Test in Sydney, and his powerful performance demonstrated how different the 1989 Lions series might have been had he played. Australia then tied the Bledisloe Cup series (1-1) by winning at home and losing away and headed for the UK in high spirits. Optimism was justified as Australia lifted the trophy with victory over England (12-6) at Twickenham on November 2, Simon’s last Test in a gold jumper. Mark Ella provided an apt summary of his former teammate, saying: “Simon is such a perfectionist, it’s almost a disease. Not only is he the best rugby player in Australia, he’s the most determined.”
Poidevin played 105 first grade games for Randwick, making nine grand final appearances between 1982 and 1990, winning six. He is noted for his tough, uncompromising, but fair approach to rugby. His work rate is remarkable. He tackles solidly, has fine hands, is fast and elusive in attack, and has a capacity for dramatic, unexpected breaks.
In 1989 the ‘Sydney Referee’ voted him as the Rothmans gold medal winner, and he was a joint winner of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ Player of the Year. In 1991 he was named Yardley Gold Footballer of the Year.
Inspiration: “The harder I work the more luck l have”
Honours & Awards
Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1988
Inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1991
Inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions in 1991
Made Member of the Order (AM) in 2018