The global rugby family is today mourning the loss of Sir Nicholas Shehadie, a giant of Australian and world rugby who was instrumental in the establishment of Rugby World Cup.

Sir Nicholas passed away peacefully in Sydney on Sunday aged 91 and is survived by his wife the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir, and children Michael, Susan, and Alexandra.

Revered within his native Australia and across the global rugby community as a player and as an administrator, Sir Nicholas’s on-field achievements include captaining Australia within a distinguished international career that saw him represent the Wallabies in 30 test matches.

He was equally accomplished as a rugby and public administrator, serving as Lord Mayor of Sydney before being elected President of the Australian Rugby Union in 1980, serving until 1987 and representing Australia on the IRB Council.

In a global context it was his immense contribution as an IRB Council member that he will be remembered by many as an innovator and was one of the principal driving forces behind the establishment of the Rugby World Cup, revolutionising the modern game.

In 2008, Sir Nicholas was presented with the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service for his contribution to the global game and in 2011 he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame (main picture) as one of the founders, pioneers and legends of Rugby World Cup.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Today we mourn the loss a great player, a great leader and visionary and a true gentleman, whose legacy to rugby fans around the world is Rugby World Cup.

“Sir Nicholas was an outstanding administrator, whose passion and determination was the driving force behind his enormous contribution to the global and domestic game at what was a pivotal time for the sport.

“The thoughts of the global rugby family are with his family, friends and the Australian rugby community at this difficult time.”