Vale | Brian Bourke ‘Bourkey’

The Canberra Royals Rugby community are deeply saddened by the news of Brian Bourke’s (‘Bourkey’) passing. ‘Bourkey’ holds almost mythical status in Royals 75 year history. 
‘Bourkey’ played juniors for Royals up until Under 18s. He then carved out a legendary rugby league career at the Queanbeyan Blues (Blues) from 1959 to 1976. ‘Bourkey’ also represented Monaro and NSW Country at a senior level in rugby league. As the Blues tribute says of ‘Bourkey’, ‘Such was his stature in the local rugby league community, he was immortalised with a statue that still resides in the Queanbeyan Leagues Club’. 
However, ‘Bourkey’s’ major contribution to Royals was as a physical fitness conditioning trainer. He was from his very early days what would be termed, a fitness fanatic, although ‘fanatic’ may not be a strong enough term. In 1979 Royals legend, John Kelsey (‘Kelse’) in his first year as 1st grade coaching took the advice of some former players and approached ‘Bourkey’ to do some conditioning sessions with the club.  When ‘Kelse’ told another Royals legend and former 1st grade coach, Gary Beadman of his plan Gary responded, ‘you’re mad, he’ll kill them’. Regardless, from that time and for most of the next 20 years the whole club would do three blocks of four week conditioning (some would say torture) pre season, mid season and end of season. And while nobody actually died, Gary wasn’t far from the mark. 
Finishing a ‘Bourkey’ became a badge of honor for all players and while there were a few dissidents almost all were eventually converted and up to 100 players would turn up for his ‘mad hour’ sessions. There is no doubt of Bourkey’s contribution to what was a period of unprecedented success for Royals, probably unmatched  in Australian rugby history. If you talk to any players from that period they will tell you that ‘Bourkey’s’ conditioning gave them the confidence and self belief that regardless of the situation or score they could finish on top in any game. The premierships flowed in all grades. 
‘Bourkey’ also toured overseas with Royals to North America (USA and Canada) in 1985 and South America (Argentina and Chile) in 1989. It would be fair to say that the rigours of off field touring were kept in check by ‘Bourkey’s’ regular morning training sessions. ‘Bourkey’ would never accept any payment for his major contribution and was aways grateful for what Royals gave him and very proud of the success the club had.
‘Bourkey’ is survived by his wife Cecily and two daughters Candy and Jem.
Bourkey’s funeral will be held at the Mollymook Surf Club, 83 Ocean St, Mollymook from 11:30 am on Monday  3 June.
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