Vale Graham "Sleepy" Cowan

It is with deep regret that we advise of the passing of Graham “Sleepy” Cowan (SeaHorse No.377).

Sleepy passed away yesterday morning, Saturday August 4th, after a stoic battle with cancer.

The University of Newcastle Rugby Club extends our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Sleepy came to Uni Rugby in 1972 and went on to become a force of nature in the Newcastle Rugby community over the next near 5 decades.

Below is a summary of his significant contributions and achievements to local Rugby and particularly to our Club. These are even more extraordinary when you consider that they are honorary and volunteer roles:

141 Club Games for Uni Rugby from 1972 to 1989. The 1989 game came 10 years after his second last game. See below for Sleepy’s own words on his first game against Maitland and his last game against Nelson Bay

Uni Rugby Secretary from 1976 to 1978 and 1989 to 1993

Uni Rugby Registrar 1975 to 1978

Awarded Life Membership of Uni Rugby in 1978

University Colour for services to Rugby was presented in 1989

Sleepy was manager of numerous teams at Uni Rugby over the years and took up his usual position of “far left, middle row” in the team photos taken during the Club’s golden era of success in the 1980s


Sleepy was as member of the NHRU Board for over 25 years and still actively driving the organisation until his passing, regularly being seen at games where he was universally welcomed and acknowledged. Among the myriad of duties fulfilled, Sleepy held the roles of Treasurer, Fixtures Committee Chairman (he knew when Uni holidays fell), Vice-President, Senior Vice President and Final Series Ground Manager. He was afforded Life Membership of the NHRU in 1996.

A minutes silence was observed before all NHRU competition games played yesterday.

We are fortunate that we have Sleepy’s own words to describe his first and last games for Uni Rugby, together with an encounter where he bit off a little more than he could chew. The extracts below come from his contribution to a book published to mark the Clubs 40th anniversary in 1994. The full article can be read HERE.

Sleepy was without doubt a winner, and it is comforting to know that he now feels no pain.

Funeral details are still being finalised, however the provisional arrangements are being set for Monday, 13th August 2018 at 12 noon. Pettigrew Family Funerals will conduct the service at Wests Newcastle City (corner Union and King Streets. Former Newcastle Workers Club). Confirmed details will be supplied by Sleepy’s great mate and fellow decorated SeaHorse, Andrew Walker.

Attendees are encouraged to wear Uni Rugby Club ties, Colours and Blues.

Newcastle Uni Rugby Union