As if a clash between Eastwood and the Students wasn’t already one of the biggest occasions on the Shute Shield calendar, tomorrow the old rivals will face off for the inaugural Robert & Jack Shute Memorial Cup.
The 6 June 2022 marks 100-years since the death of Robert Elliot Shute, the man whose name has become synonymous with club rugby in NSW.
In 1922, 23-year-old Shute died tragically during a match at Manly Oval, after a tackle made by an opposing player caused Robert’s head to hit the hard Manly playing surface.
The man that made the tackle that day was John (Jack) Lawson Shute.
While the pair share no relation, what happened at Manly Oval in 1922 would ultimately foster a connection that will be honoured tomorrow at Sydney University Oval.
Eastwood General Manager, Robert Frost, says the story of Robert and Jack Shute is instrumental in understanding the history of the competition.
“It’s a beautiful story born out of such sadness,” he said.
“When you tell people the story they get shivers down their back, it’s just amazing.
“The fact that these two families will be brought together by something that happened 100-years ago will be a special moment for the entire Shute Shield community.”
Twelve members of the Shute families will be in attendance at Sydney University Football Ground tomorrow, while Margaret Oldfield, niece of Robert Shute, will present the winning captain with the Cup.
“It will be incredibly special to have the Shute’s there tomorrow,” Frost said.
“I went to training on Tuesday night and sat our First Grade side down to talk them through this amazing history.
“It happened so long ago, so obviously a lot of our men weren’t aware of the story.
“I think honouring the Shute’s legacy has really acted as extra motivation for our players ahead of what is already a huge clash against a rival club.
“Everyone in our rugby community should know this story. The Shute Shield is a famous sporting competition, and its name deserves to be understood and respected.”
Following the tragic accident in 1922, Robert’s mother, Amy Shute, wrote a letter to Jack Shute to express her family’s sympathy for the man who had laid the tackle that caused her son’s death.
Amazingly, this letter has been retained by the Shute family and will be brought to the ground on Saturday for the families to honour.
Despite representing Western Suburbs on that day in 1922, Jack Shute would go on to become Eastwood’s first Club President, as well as the club's inaugural Life Member.
Saturday’s fixture in isolation is hugely significant, with both Eastwood and Sydney University sitting on 35-points at the summit of the Shute Shield ladder.
But the story of Robert and Jack Shute adds an element unmatched by recent rivalries, an element which tomorrow will be shared and celebrated by the Shute Shield community.
“With the number of tackles and rucks that happen across rugby matches all across the country, it’s amazing to think that this one such tackle would be honoured 100-years on,” Frost said.
“Any occasion between our two great clubs is special, but this Saturday will truly be one of the most significant occasions in each of our histories.”