Gratitude for a career of sporting highlights

When asked to name highlights from nearly four decades at Melbourne Grammar, including significant service to rugby and snowsports, Rob Shields finds it difficult to choose.

“The buzz of the ANZAC Rugby Carnival in 2015 was pretty special, we got to see the competing Hakas between the finalist teams on the main oval,” he says. “But then there was the Sesquicentenary Rugby Carnival with teams from Japan, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand, and the rugby trips to New Zealand, Samoa, South Africa, the UK…the list goes on.”

Dedication in and outside the classroom

Having joined our School in 1983, Rob has spent his entire teaching career at Melbourne Grammar, with the exception of one year teaching in the UK, ironically at Rugby School.

During those 39 years, his work has included teaching in our Senior School Business Faculty, serving as Head of both Perry and Witherby Houses, and as House Tutor, alongside a multitude of contributions to rugby, snowsports, soccer, cricket and athletics.

“I’ve loved it all,” says Rob, who retired at the end of 2021. “The key is to do the things you enjoy, and to enjoy the things you do. My roles outside the classroom have given me diversity in my career, which is important, and allowed me to give students experiences I know they’ll remember for a lifetime.”

Memories of achievement and connection

Despite having worked with students who have gone on to Olympic-level competition, Rob is more focused on the ways in which sport can bring people together than on individual achievements.

“Sport is an opportunity for students to make new friendships, and to interact in an environment where they share a common interest,” he says. “Outside the classroom, they have an opportunity to show more of who they are, and teachers get a chance to show who we are as well.”

Looking back on both interstate and international tours, it’s not only the dedication of the students that stands out to Rob, but the commitment of their parents.

“It’s always impressed me how much parents have been there wanting to help, generously giving of their time and resources,” he says. “Our successes have been due to their enthusiasm. We wouldn’t have been able to go on international rugby tours, or to hold our title as state champions in snowsports for 16 unbroken years, without them.”

On leaving the School, Rob took the time to donate records of his teams’ achievements to our School Archives, where they will contribute to our ongoing record and knowledge about the history of sport at Melbourne Grammar.

“My advice to teachers is to get involved in the sports programmes, because there’s a lot of personal satisfaction to be gained,” he says. “It’s a chance to see students out there, doing their best, and to engage with them in a different setting.”