In a feature that appeared in SA Rugby magazine, we caught up with former WP, Lions, Sharks, Bulls and Pumas player Gavin Lawless.
Gavin Lawless’ career straddled the amateur and professional eras. He played for French club Bordeaux in 1991, before representing Western Province, the Lions, Sharks, Bulls and Pumas over the next eight years.
‘Playing for WP in 1992 was a career highlight for me,’ he says. ‘I made my Currie Cup debut alongside the likes of Danie Gerber, Tiaan Strauss and Schalk Burger, all Springboks who I idolised as a teenager.’
In 1996, Lawless finished as the Lions’ top point-scorer in the Super 12 and Currie Cup, before moving to the Sharks. In his first match for them, against the Highlanders, the fullback racked up 50 points, including four tries.
‘It was incredibly hot and humid that day,’ Lawless recalls. ‘We played a high-tempo game and the Highlanders struggled because they had just returned from a pre-season tour of Europe.
‘In hindsight, those 50 points were a bit of a fluke,’ he adds with a laugh. ‘It was 30ºC and [Sharks captain] Gary Teichmann threw the ball at me to kick at goal every time we got a penalty, no matter how far out it was, so the players could take a breather. Surprisingly, they all went over.’
Lawless singles out that season under the guidance of coach Ian McIntosh as his best, yet it was not enough to earn him a Springbok call-up. However, the 46-year-old has no regrets.
‘I enjoyed every minute of that chapter in my life. I just moved on to the next chapter sooner than most.’
LIFE AFTER RUGBY
At the time of his retirement at 28, Lawless was already working for an IT distribution company. In 2000, he and his family emigrated to Sydney.
‘We lived there until 2012 before moving down to Melbourne because the company I worked for at the time opened a branch there. But since then I’ve transitioned into software, and am now with a global company called Infor. We sell business applications and I’m the sales director.’
Lawless is also a member of the Melbourne Rugby Business Network.
‘We host business events between four and six times a year. We get guest speakers and prominent figures in world rugby to come and speak, and the profits go to charity.’
Lawless and his wife Kim have three daughters, Jade (14), Amber (13) and Skye (8), who are all Australian-born.
‘In Australia, secondary school starts in Year 7 [Grade 7], so Jade is in her third year at high school. She is a very good soccer player. Amber is in her second year at high. She is doing quite well in basketball and is also more artistically inclined than the other two. Skye is too young, so she is not playing any sport yet.
‘I coached a little in 2005 and 2006 in Sydney, but after Amber’s birth I cut back on the extra-mural activities to be more active and hands-on at home with the kids.’
By Mariette Adams