It is with great sadness, that we inform you of the passing last evening of one of our long-term Sydney University Football Club Friends and Sydney University alumni, Dr Paul Darveniza.

Andrew Murray AM, fellow SUFC Friend and former SUFC playing colleague of Dr Darvenzia, has authored a reflection with permission of the family.


Dr Paul Darveniza – Rugby History

Paul Darveniza first played rugby league in the Queensland country town of Warwick before he boarded at Cranbrook School in Sydney where he excelled in rugby union. Paul was a member of the Cranbrook Firsts for his last two years at Cranbrook.

After leaving school, Paul played rugby with the Easts Wallaroos in the under 18 & under 20 competitions. He progressed from there to play in the Eastern Suburbs First Grade side in 1965. While Paul enjoyed his season at Easts, he was attracted by Dr John Solomon’s suggestion, as he was then studying Medicine at Sydney University, that he play rugby for his university. John Solomon was the coach of SUFC First Grade at the time and was looking to build a team to win the Shute Shield and he recognised Paul’s ability as a rugby hooker.

Paul played his first season with SUFC in 1966 and began a highly successful career with the Club. He played 100 games for SUFC and became the first player to play 100 games without ever playing a game in a lower grade. Such was his outstanding skill and determination as a rugby hooker.

During his time with SUFC, Paul was a member of the Shute Shield winning teams in 1968 & 1970. The 1968 Team was one of the best teams to play for SUFC. The team played 24 games winning 23 losing only to Parramatta 6-3 at what coach David Brockhoff referred to as “Death Valley”. Nine former, current or future Wallabies played in the 1968 Team. Much of the success of that team was contributed to Paul Darveniza who spearheaded a scrum which would win up to 10 tight heads in a match. In 1997, Paul Darveniza was selected in the SUFC’s greatest Team between the Years 1920-1994. An amazing honour but truly well deserved. Paul was awarded a University Blue for Rugby in 1967. He retired from rugby at the end of 1971 to concentrate on his medical studies.

Paul also had an impressive representative history during his time at SUFC. He was first picked for NSW in 1967. He played 4 Tests for the Wallabies between 1968-69. He first toured to Ireland & Scotland with the Wallabies as back-up hooker to captain, Peter Johnson. His first Test was against Wales in Sydney. In 1969 he joined 6 other SUFC players on a Wallabies Tour to South Africa. He played in the last three Tests of a 4 Test series. It was a bruising, and later controversial, tour to SA.

Paul went on 2 overseas trips with SUFC. He was a member of the first ever overseas tour by SUFC in the summer of 1968-69. The team played 7 games on tour, 6 in California and one in Honolulu all against American Universities. It was an amazing tour as it was in the middle of drastic change in the community and the Universities. It was a time of hippie flower power in San Francisco, topless & bottomless waitresses, Kent State University shootings and University marches demonstrating against Viet Nam. We shook hands with 219 cm giant, Lou Alcindor (later to become Kareem Abdul -Jabbar) after a UCLA basketball game. It was exciting times. SUFC won all matches including the one against the Golden Bears representing UC Berkley who beat Queensland the next year in Brisbane.

Paul also played in the SUFC team that was invited to play Otago University in NZ in 1969 to celebrate Otago’s 100th anniversary. SUFC won a close match and were shouted a week-long bus tour of the South Island by our hosts. It was a huge amount of fun.

Many stories are told about both SUFC tours but all for another time.

Paul will be remembered for his amazing sporting ability and tenacity as a rugby player, for his attitude to the game and his excellent approach to life on and off the field. He was always a gentleman.

He will also be remembered for his amazing contribution to medicine as a specialist Neurologist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney for over 50 years.


A memorial service will be announced in the coming weeks by the family. Our thoughts are with his wife, Anne Charteris and the entire Darvenzia family at this very sad and difficult time.