Rugby Match in Memory of Chris ‘Chops’ McLean
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Caloundra Rugby Union will take to the field on the 19 th July for a rugby match against the Royal Australian Navy Old Salts to commemorate former navy man and Caloundra rugby player Chris ‘Chops’ McLean, who tragically passed away 10 years ago.
Chris McLean tragically passed away on the 26 th July 2009, the day after hitting his head whilst playing a game of rugby union against Maroochydore Rugby Union, in Maroochydore.
After collapsing on the sideline and losing consciousness he was rushed to Nambour Hospital then to the Royal Brisbane Hospital where it was determined that he suffered from an untreatable major brain haemorrhage.
Everyone who knew Chris described him as a loving father and husband, a dedicated businessman, a respected serviceman, devout clubman and a larrikin, who had a wicked sense of humour.
Chris, who grew up in the NSW city of Kempsey, joined the navy initially as a cook after leaving school. He served with the Royal Australian Navy for over 10 years, where he notably served on HMAS Sydney for Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War and HMAS Balikpapan as part of the Australian-led peacekeeping taskforce deployed to East Timor.
He played rugby union outstandingly for Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union and was selected on multiple occasions to represent the team internationally, playing in Canada, USA and Europe. He was also selected for the prestigious Australian Services Rugby Union team.
Chops’ passion for rugby continued after he left the navy, when he moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2000. He joined Caloundra Rugby Union as a player and coach, and represented both the A Grade and Reserve Grade sides and coached his son’s team from under 5’s to under 10’s. It was at Caloundra Rugby Union where he was anointed with his nickname, Chops.
Now 19, Angus McLean, Chris’ son said, “Some of my strongest memories of dad are when I spent my whole Saturday with him at Lighthouse Park. He would watch me play rugby and then I would watch him play”.
Chris’s daughter Jordyn said, “I was only 10 years old when dad died and it’s now ten years on. I always think about what my dad would be doing if he was here, and this rugby event sums it up.”
“I can’t thank Caloundra Rugby Union and the Navy rugby community enough for the support they’ve provided our family over the last 10 years. It’s over and above what we expected”, said Chris’ twin brother Michael McLean. “Anyone who knew Chris knows that he was as good off the field as he was on the field. He was really just a great guy and a great brother. I feel privileged to be able to celebrate Chris’ s life and his 10 years upstairs with this memorial match”.
The trophy used since the first memorial match, made by Chris and Michael’s father Shane McLean and appropriately adorned with a meat cleaver made, will be awarded to the winning team.
The match will be held at Caloundra Rugby Union Club, Lighthouse Park at Arthur Street, Caloundra on Friday 19th July 2019. Kick off is at 6:00pm and will be followed by Caloundra Rugby Union’s Colts at 7:00pm and the Women at 8:15pm, both playing Gympie. The bar and canteen will also be open for people to enjoy some food and beverages.