Murray Harley receives ASRU Life Time Achievement Award

In recognition of 16 years of outstanding official contribution to Australian Services Rugby Union (ASRU), across the period 1988 to 2010. Murray’s involvement included ten years as a player, featuring three years as ASRU team captain. He transitioned to coaching in his final year as a player, and spent a further six years as the ASRU Men’s Head Coach or Men’s Assistant Coach. Murray Harley always exemplified the professionalism, skill, leadership, and dedication valued so highly by those privileged to represent or serve ASRU.

Murray Harley was a loosehead prop from Army, who represented ASRU for a decade, from 1988 to 1997. He captained ASRU for three years, from 1995 – 1997. Murray was also an Australian U/21 representative and played for the ACT Brumbies. In recognition of his talent, Murray was selected in the starting XV of the ASRU Men’s commemorative 50th anniversary team, announced in 2013.

Murray’s transition to the coaching ranks overlapped his final year as a player, commencing in 1997. He served as the ASRU Men’s Assistant Coach for two years in 1997 – 1998, before assuming the Men’s Head Coach appointment for two years in 1999 – 2000. He returned to ASRU for another three years in 2005 and 2009 – 2010, as the ASRU Men’s Assistant Coach. Overall, Murray’s official involvement with ASRU totaled 16 years.

As a player, Murray took the field against many noteworthy teams. Domestically, this included Sydney, later replaced by NSW Suburban, NSW Country, ACT Griffins, ACT Brumbies Runners, QLD Country, and Western Australia. Internationally, he battled it out against the U.S. Combined Services, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, all three UK Service teams (Army, Navy and Air Force), UK Combined Services, Hong Kong Barbarians and a few other international invitational teams.

Memorable occasions as player included the 1994 UK tour, where ASRU defeated the British Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, but narrowly missed the grand slam, falling short by 3 points against UK Combined Services; the undefeated 1992 tour of the U.S., including a 60-plus points victory against the U.S. Combined Services; the 1995 Healthway International Cup victory in Perth; and rare wins against NSW Country and NSW Suburban.

In coaching roles, Murray guided ASRU against domestic and international opponents, including NSW Suburban, Australian Universities, U.S. Combined Services, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, NZ Defence Force, and Tongan Defence Services. He steered ASRU to victory at the 1999 Arafura Games; narrowly missed victory against Australian Universities on two occasions, 21 – 22 in 2000 and 15 – 22 on 2005; and he contributed to ASRU’s excellent performance in 2010, including a two-nil series win against the visiting U.S. Combined Services and ASRU’s best result at the Pacific Nations Military Cup, which saw ASRU draw with the highly fancied NZ Defence Force and lose a one-point nail biter against Tongan Defence Services.

Since concluding official service with ASRU in 2010, Murray has continued to volunteer behind the scenes as a mentor and historian. He was instrumental in compiling detailed records of ASRU and Inter-Service Championship match results and key appointments, dating back to 1963, as well as documenting rugby union representation by ADF members at state and international levels, as far back as the early 1900s. More visibly, Murray remains a passionate organiser of Old Boys rugby, whose collective presence continues to grow, especially in conjunction with the annual Australian Services Rugby Championship. In doing so, he has nurtured an important bond between modern era ASRU players and their forefathers. The creation of the Geoff Richardson Trophy in 2014, contested between ASRU and NSW Country, is an example of Murray’s historical knowledge and contribution.

Murray’s involvement with ASRU has not been confined to the men’s team. He has also been a staunch supporter of the ASRU women’s team. He has influenced the Australian Rugby Union’s visibility of female player talent resident within ASRU, which has contributed to ASRU’s expanded representation in both the Australian Pearls and Wallaroos squads.

Murray Harley always exemplified the professionalism, skill, leadership, and dedication valued so highly by those privileged to represent or serve ASRU. In recognition of his long-standing and outstanding contribution, Murray Harley is presented this ASRU Life Time Achievement Award.

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