SUFC is sad to advise you of the passing of Henric Nicholas, one of Sydney University Rugby’s stalwarts. Born in the central western NSW town of Orange in 1941, and raised on a family property near Tumut, close to the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, Henric attended The King’s School, Parramatta and after school he enrolled in arts and law at Sydney University and was a resident student of St Paul’s College. He also worked as an article clerk at the then venerable Sydney law firm of Stephen Jacques & Stephen. After a stint working as a research assistant at the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, and in a commercial garbage-handling facility in London, he returned to Australia and was admitted to the NSW bar as a barrister in 1966.
As a grandson and son of the establishment, Nicholas may have been privileged as a youth, but his early days at the bar were lean. According to Murray Tobias, QC, he spent much of his first year in chambers “reading the great Russian novelists, and waiting for the phone to ring”. This period also marked the beginning of his remarkable contribution to wider public life, starting with coaching a Sydney University rugby team and soon after becoming vice-president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.
Apart from his hugely successful legal practice and achievements, Henric’s contributions were deep and wide. He was a trustee of the Centennial Park Trust, a director of the Sydney Theatre Company, chairman of the Eleanor Dark Foundation/Varuna Writers’ House at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, a director of the Blake Society for Religious Art, and was chairman of the Kimberley Foundation of Australia, which promotes research into ancient Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley region in north-west Western Australia.
In addition, Nicholas was chairman of the Council of Sydney University’s St Paul’s College, a councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, has been a significant breeder of black Aberdeen Angus cattle, and has run marathons in Honolulu, Paris and Melbourne.
Henric’s love for Sydney University Rugby goes back many years starting in his playing days where he was a solid contributor to colts and grade rugby and, as mentioned above, he then coached at the Club for several seasons. In his own words, ‘’I coached both Grade and Colts teams at Sydney University with much enjoyment and some success.”
After his coaching days were over, he continued to take a strong interest in the Club and was always available to mentor young aspiring lawyers as well as those already in practice. Henric was a valued member of the Friends of Sydney University Football Club and a generous donor to the Foundation.
There are plans to hold a private funeral and then a public memorial to Nicholas’ remarkable life once COVID-19-mandated number restrictions have been lifted for such gatherings.
We will all miss Henric’s gentle sense of humour and his wise counsel and our thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Marion and his extended family.
David Mortimer AO
President, The Friends of Sydney University Football Club and The Sydney University Football Club Foundation