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Vale Peter Rafter: ‘A mate to everyone’

Queensland Rugby League has today paid tribute to Peter Rafter and his extraordinary contribution to bush footy.

Rafter, who passed away this week after a short illness, has been remembered by his friends and QRL colleagues as a “true bushie” who would do anything to help people in the outback.

For more than a decade, Rafter clocked up countless kilometres in a QRL motorhome to support volunteers at remote clubs and leagues

His efforts helped the QRL attract and retain new junior and senior players across various competitions.

Some of the success stories were quite remarkable; and so too was Rafter’s own journey, which is best portrayed by Central chair Danny McGuire.

“I first met Peter when he was the Sunshine Coast Junior Rugby League secretary some 15 years ago,” McGuire recalled.

“When the harebrained idea of a motorhome came up servicing the outback leagues, I immediately thought of Peter, as he displayed the attributes that were required to make the concept a success. 

“As the idea formulated it became more apparent that Pete was the man for the job.  I was impressed by his strong personality, empathy for the game and knowledge of the bush.

“It became his dream job and he loved every minute of his time spent helping others and bringing communities together.”

As a former police officer who played rugby league in Toowoomba, Rafter always had a strong presence in regional communities.

However, just how ‘regional’ those ties really were can now make for an interesting tale. 

“It wasn’t until a few years after he started that I found out he had never been west of Toowoomba!,” McGuire revealed.

“But he was born to be part of the growth and maintenance of the game in the outback. 

“There has been plenty said about Peter on social media and his traits, but none can be truer than saying he was first a mate, a mentor and then a co-worker. 

“He listened and appreciated the difficulties faced in remote areas and like a true bushie found ways to make things work. 

“Nothing was ever too hard or impossible for Peter and his work in the outback will be forever remembered.”

Central region manager Rob Crow offered his condolences to Rafter’s family and friends.

“Central Region could not have chosen a better human being to service the south and central outback areas in the new QRL motorhome some 10 years ago when appointing Peter,” Crow said.

“His dedication to the role was unwavering and countless relationships were built in this time through steady stewardship, a laid back style and trust.

“Peter was directly involved in the many volunteer awards to volunteers and clubs in Central over this 10 years, as he came across many unique stories and experiences that he just had to share.

“The Central region staff and I will miss Pete’s friendship and cheery demeanour.”

Former Maroons player Adrian Vowles echoed those sentiments.

“Pete was not only a mate to me but a mate to everyone,” Vowles said.

“People loved him because he cared about football and he cared about the people, especially the people from the bush. He has left a big hole to fill.”

Charleville’s Sean “Zoro” Radnedge loved his time with Rafter.

“Pete was a self-driven personality that always had a good ear to listen and if he could make it work he would, but he also would tell you if you were dreaming and that is one of the traits that people loved,” Radnedge said.

“Peter was the third ‘Amigo’ in the Adrian Vowles Cup and his guidance and experience helped shape it into one of the major junior rugby league carnivals on the calendar.

“He leaves a big hole in our committee but he will never be forgotten and we will honour him at the event for years to come.”

Geoff Orman, another well-travelled rugby league official, said Rafter was respected by all.

“Peter was a person who had a great passion for rugby league and it was the passion and his love of the outback that made all those who worked and knew him love him,” Orman said.

The QRL sends its deepest condolences to Peter’s wife Rebecca, daughters Nicole and Dannielle; and sons Thomas and Glenn Purvis. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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