George Piggins 1944-
George Leslie Piggins AM (born October 14, 1944) is an Australian rugby league personality. He is a former player, coach and administrator of the South Sydney Rabbitohs club. Following their exclusion from the premiership at the end of the Super League war, Piggins also successfully led the Rabbitohs' battle for re-inclusion in the National Rugby League in the early 2000's.
Piggins played the game as a hooker. He established himself in first grade in 1967 but was left out for Elwyn Walters in the finals and took several years to re-establish himself in first grade. In 1971 Piggins played a superb game in the grand final when Walters was injured and late the following year finally established a permanent first grade berth for good. In 1974, with Walters leaving for Easts, Piggins advanced so much that he played for New South Wales and the following year, despite Souths finishing last after winning only two of their last sixteen games, Piggins' toughness saw him represent Australia in the 1975 World Cup. The following year, he scored a memorable bustling try (one of only eight in 120 first grade games) against the Western Suburbs Magpies and again played for New South Wales. With injuries catching up, however, Piggins retired at the end of 1978, but his experience and the skill of coach Jack Gibson that season was an important precursor for the Rabbitohs reaching the semis in 1980 after winning only one of their last eighteen games in 1977.
In 1986, Piggins took over as first grade coach and with the work-rate of a relatively lightweight but extremely tough forward pack containing Les Davidson, David Boyle, Michael Andrews, Wayne Chisholm, skipper Mario Fenech and young giant Ian Roberts, took the Rabbitohs into fourth place in his first two seasons. Although they scored the fewest tries of the thirteen clubs playing, their ability to win tight, low-scoring games kept the Rabbitohs at the top of the table. Injuries to their pack in 1988 saw them decline despite remedying their weakness in backline pace through acquiring Phil Blake, but 1989 saw the Rabbitohs as the undisputed pace-setters until the finals, winning twelve games in a row through a watertight defence and skilful, soild backline play. 1990, however, was a disaster as Boyle, Andrews and Chisholm succumbed to injury and Fenech and Davidson declined. The Rabbitohs' watertight defence became incredibly thin and the team won only two games all season - actually conceding more tries in their last five games than in the entire 1989 home-and-away season. Piggins was axed as coach at the end of that year but took up a position as manager whilst the Rabbitohs, consistently in the lower reaches of the table and in desperate financial trouble.
In 2000 Piggins was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in the sport of rugby league.
Due to the National Rugby League's plans for a fourteen-team competition, the South Sydney club was excluded from the NRL premiership from the 2000 season. Piggins was the chairman of the South Sydney club during the battle against the NRL for re-inclusion in the premiership, which was achieved during 2001. That year Piggins was awarded the Centenary Medal "for service to the sport of rugby league" as the Rabbitohs returned to the playing field in 2002. At the start of that year his book, Never Say Die: The Fight to save the Rabbitohs was published. Its title refers to the persistence needed to keep the South Sydney club in the top-level competition. In 2002 Piggins was further was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia "for service to Rugby League football as an administrator, coach and player, and to the South Sydney community".
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