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Arthur Artie Beetson OAM

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Arthur Beetson is a rugby league immortal and legend who both played and coached for the Redcliffe Dolphins.

Arthur was born in Roma, Queensland on 21st January 1945.

Arthur played captained and coached the Queensland State Of Origin team and was the first indigenous man to captain his country in any sport.

Arthur was and still is respected in both Queensland and Australia whilst also and is frequently cited as the best post-war forward in Australian rugby league history.

Beetson's rugby league career began with Redcliffe in the Brisbane Rugby League's competition between 1964 and 1965. After winning the club's player of the year award in 1965 as well as winning the Rugby League Premiership with them in the 1965 final, Beetson's big frame , pure speed and brilliant ball skills won countless games for his team. His offloading and attacking work rate broke the mould for front rowers and changed the way they played the game.

Arthur also had an extensive coaching career, spanning the 1970s to the 1990s, coaching Australia, Queensland, Eastern Suburbs, Redcliffe Dolphins and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

He also ran the Moreton Bay Hotel on Redcliffe parade in the 1980's

The Premier of Queensland, announced that a bronze statue of Beetson was to be situated at Lang Park. It was unveiled on 3 July 2012.

The Arthur Beetson Foundation was created to engage the community "to empower Indigenous Australians to better outcomes in health, education, sport, employment and business development", and the Arthur Beetson Medal honours rugby league players who have distinguished themselves who have shown not only skill on the field but some of the qualities embodied by Beetson and cares deeply about their people.

Arthur Beetson and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke at the opening of the new Redcliffe Leagues Club in 1985.


1975 NSW Sports Star of the year

  • Named in Australian rugby league's 100 greatest players

  • Named at prop forward in Australian rugby league team of the century

  • Named at prop forward in Queensland rugby league team of the century

  • Named at prop forward in Indigenous Australian rugby league team of the century

  • First Aborigine to captain the Australian Test team (vs France for the 2nd France vs Australia Test on the 1973 Kangaroo tour)[10]

Beetson is often regarded as Australia's best ever forward, and in 2000 he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal, then in 2001 the Centenary Medal "for service to Australian society through the sport of rugby league". He was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2003. In May 2004 his book, Big Artie: The Autobiography was published. Also that year he became the seventh selected post-war "Immortal" of the Australian game with Churchill, Raper, Gasnier, Fulton, Langlands and Wally Lewis.

In February 2008, Beetson was named in a list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia. Beetson went on to be named in the front-row in Australian rugby league's Team of the Century. Announced on 17 April 2008, the team is the panel's majority choice for each of the thirteen starting positions and four interchange players. Beetson chose to boycott the presentation ceremony, stating that he did not agree with the direction rugby league is taking. In June 2008, he was chosen in the Queensland Rugby League's Team of the Century at second-row. In 2008, rugby league in Australia's centenary year, Beetson was named at second-row forward in the Toowoomba and South West Team of the Century. He was made a life member of the Sydney Cricket Ground and a plaque in the Walk of Honour there commemorates his career. He is a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

As part of the Centenary of League celebrations in 2008, Beetson was retrospectively awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as Man of the Match in the 1974 Grand final.

In 2009 Beetson was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame.

In 2010 a program was founded and named in honour of Arthur Beetson, the ARTIE Academy (Achieving Results Through Indigenous Education). An inspiration and role model for his people, Arthur was resolute in his beliefs about the absolute need for young Indigenous Australians to be educated, to finish school and to be employed. The ARTIE Academy operates with an innovative, high expectation, consistent and positive mindset. ARTIE is an academy that students are proud to be a part of. An academy that expects them to achieve to the best of their ability. An academy that will support them in times of need, but not accept excuses for a lack of commitment. ARTIE inspires its participants, encourages and informs them of their progress and celebrates their successes. The program is run by the FOGS (Former Origin Greats) organisation and funded under the "Closing the Gap" initiative. The program continues to operate in schools around Queensland.

Beetson's Queensland State of Origin number 11 jersey was "retired" in 2014.

On 1st December 2011, Beetson died following a heart attack while riding his bicycle at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast, Queensland. He was 66.


Arthur Beetson is listed on the wall of the Redcliffe Wall of Fame:

A collection of portrait and information honouring the achievements of individuals who have influenced and shaped Redcliffe. The collection is in the Jetty Arcade at 139-141 Redcliffe Parade.

For a complete list of people who appear on the wall click on the following blog post:


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