Bobby Bax – Greatest Coach in the History of Rugby League

Bobby Bax - Greatest Coach in the History of Rugby League

Bobby Bax was a ‘player’s coach’. His success was founded on building up an exceptional team culture where he and his players grew to genuinely care about each other. The camaraderie that developed as a result was evident on the football field, game after game and year after year. If there was a blue on the field, Bob was a stickler for ‘look after your mates’.

He knocked around with his players – they used to go to his house and play cards, and when he got any horse-racing tips he used to spread them around to everyone. After games, he and the players met at ‘The House’ in Nundah and have a bit of a get-together and a few drinks. They’d talk about the game openly – what they should have done and what they didn’t do. Wives and girlfriends were welcome to come along.

Bob was such a great communicator, all the players felt he was easy to connect with. Bill Pearson, the captain of Norths, came to Bob one day with a suggestion. Bill was playing centre at the time, and felt he wasn’t getting enough of the ball.

He told Bob that he thought he should go to five-eighth and then asked for Bob’s opinion. His coach replied that they would give it a go and then see what Bill thought about the change. Bill ended up in the five-eighth position permanently. That was the great thing about Bob – he was prepared to listen.

When it came to training, Bob was a fitness fanatic. All the players knew that they had to get into peak condition. Everyone was as keen as mustard so everyone trained hard. Training nights started with running 10 laps around the oval to warm up with and then there was a lot of running in short bursts.

The players also had to do lots of ball drills, with the forwards and backs training separately. Bill Pearson used to look after the backs while Bob would train the forwards. When Bob spoke to players at training he was a master of giving clear explanations of what he wanted, and because all of the players respected him, they took on board what he said.

No other coach in the history of Rugby League achieved the level of sustained success in club football that Bob Bax did. His record of coaching nine grand final teams in a row and winning nine premierships in 15 years is never likely to be broken.

Bob Bax’s Grand Final Coaching Record

Brothers 1956 Premiership Norths 1964 Premiership
Brothers 1957 Runner-up Norths 1965 —————-
Brothers 1958 Premiership Norths 1966 Premiership
Brothers 1959 Runner-up Norths 1967 Runner-up
Norths 1960 Premiership Norths 1968 —————-
Norths 1961 Premiership Norths 1969 Premiership
Norths 1962 Premiership Norths 1970 Runner-up
Norths 1963 Premiership