The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Nick Farr-Jones

Episode 22

Nick Farr-Jones: Episode Summary

On this episode of ‘The Inspiration Project’, Brendan Corr talks to Nick Farr-Jones about captaining the Wallabies, moving his family to Paris and following Christ.

Among other things Nick shares:

  • Why he loved school.
  • The discipline-building benefits of swimming and running.
  • Not making the first 15 rugby team but later captaining the Wallabies.
  • The rewards of working really hard.
  • About focusing on who you want to become, over what you want to do.
  • His journey to Christ and his determination to keep following Him.
  • The prominence in his life of serving those less fortunate.
  • His experience of living and working in Paris.

Nick Farr-Jones: Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College, a network of schools committed to student wellbeing, character development, and academic improvement.

Introduction
Welcome to The Inspiration Project, where well-known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host, Brendan Corr.

Brendan Corr
Hi there, everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Inspiration Project. We hope that you’re enjoying the conversations we’re bringing you of these prominent Australian who’ve been incorporating faith into their careers and their lives and being true to their sense of call. Absolutely delighted, personally delighted with the guest that we have in today, as a lifetime rugby fan. It’s a delight for me to speak to Mr. Nick Farr-Jones. Nick has had an extraordinary career, both in the sporting field and beyond that. First selected to play for Australia in 1984. He played for the next 10 years straight, captained the Wallabies for five of those years, was one of the components, the contributing players to the grand slam of 1984, and then the winning of the Rugby World Cup in 1991, and a series of other opportunities that came his way to play internationally and to be part of the different barbarian sides and centenary celebrations. Beyond the sporting field, Nick is first trained as a lawyer, and then has moved into the area of investment banking. He is now serving as a non-executive director on a number of companies and their governing boards. Nick, we are so delighted for you to find some time. We know that it’s a really intense period for everybody, particularly the impact of COVID on the business world. We also understand that you’re still supporting rugby in Australia and the complexity that that organisation is facing at the minute. Thank you very much for your time. We really appreciate it.

Nick Farr-Jones
Brendan, or shall I say, headmaster or principal, it’s my absolute pleasure. I mean, it is a busy time. It’s a challenging time. They’re interesting times. But as we’re just talking before this recording, there are great opportunities in these difficult times. There’s opportunities to reset, as many sporting organisations will do, and they need to do that. You’ve got to cut your cloth accordingly. There are great opportunities to plan, there are great opportunities to put processes together for future benefit. I’d encourage your students who are going to listen to our little chat to use it as a time to benefit, to look at it as a time to get close with family, to look out and support mom and dad, who might be going through tough times. Support your siblings, support your school mates. Be online, don’t joke around too much. It’s always good to have a bit of fun. But just reach out to people. It’s a bit of that, ”R U OK?” message. Use it as an opportunity. Don’t waste your time is effectively what I’m saying. It’s a terrific opportunity if you use your time wisely. This is where, again, if we’re going to reflect a little bit on my spirituality later, my faith, it’s probably where I should maybe step up a bit more. We always complain that we don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough time to get into the Word. We don’t have enough time to be spending time in meditation and prayer, on God’s word, and what have you. It’s a perfect time now to just strengthen and deepen your relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Brendan Corr
We will take up that exaltation a little bit later, Nick, but you mentioned that the main target of our listening group are kids in the upper end of school or just having left school. Can I ask you, what was school like for you? Was it a fun place to be? Was it a challenging place? What do you remember about school?

Nick Farr-Jones
I liked school. I had a fantastic time at school. I was brought up in the Shire, so the Sutherland Shire, Gymea, and the Cronulla. My primary school is Miranda Primary. I used to walk down the King’s Way, probably a kilometre to get to school. I love Miranda, I love sport. I used to swim twice a day.

Brendan Corr
Right.

Nick Farr-Jones
My parents used to drive me and my brothers down to swimming training, which held you in great stead for the disciplines of playing for your nation in sport and the disciplines required to do that if you want to reach your potential. Miranda Primary was fantastic. I left there in 1973, so year six. My parents put a straw hat on my head, Brendan, which was called a boater in those days. I’m not sure if it is still, but they put me on a train from initially Gymea and then Cronulla. It was three hours to get to Stanmore and back. That school was Newington College at Stanmore. I had a fantastic time there. I loved the place. I had a great headmaster, who my parents knew very well, and I was just with his son yesterday swapping notes on a whole bunch of things. It was a great place. I loved the sport, I loved the interaction, I loved the study, I loved the teachers I had and their passion.

Brendan Corr
Any teacher stood out, Nick? Any teacher who impacted on you?

Nick Farr-Jones
I gave a eulogy to my geography teacher called Mr. Wusman, Clyde Wusman. He was my first rugby coach. He was a fantastic guy. He made geography something that I loved and was passionate about. Clyde was just a terrific man. He was the boarding housemaster. I played soccer when I was young down at the Shire, and so I knew nothing about rugby. When I turned up Newington, I only played soccer back then. I turned up and I saw steel studs for the first time, and I said, “Mr. Wusman, what happens if someone treads on you with those things?” 20 test matches against the All Blacks later, you quickly find out. But I remember turning up and saying, “Where are the round balls?” He said, “No, we don’t play with them here.” I said, “Well, where do I play in this game?” He said, “It’s easy. You’re the littlest kid, here’s a number nine jersey,” which was scrum-half. I remember those things well. A man called Barry Riggs, who I visited recently, not great in health, Barry was my athletics coach. When I was three hours on the train, the swimming disappeared, I took up middle distance running, 800 metres, 1500 metres. Again, great for the discipline of squeezing the lemon and getting all the drops out. Hard work. Barry was a fantastic guy. I had many great memories. As I said, my headmaster, who was headmaster at Newington, Tony Ray, one of the great educators, was there for 23 years. But he was my headmaster for the six years I was at Newington and a wonderful leader. Very, very fond memories. One thing that your students should understand, Mr. Head, is that I wasn’t good enough to play in the first 15 at my school, so I didn’t make the first 15 rugby team. I was very proud and happy to captain the seconds, but I suppose there’s a little message there that if you don’t achieve all your dreams at a young age, just keep persevering. Keep trying. Keep going after the next interview. Just keep working hard on your skills, and don’t give up on your dreams.

Brendan Corr
That story that you very generously introduced for us about the success that came post-school for you is a bit legendary in rugby circles, and an enormous encouragement.

Nick Farr-Jones
I’d like to think that, because a lot of people do give up on their dreams, do give up on their hopes. But to your students, work out what you’re passionate about. That’s a really important thing. What do you love? What do you love doing? Dream and think big. Think about how this could take you on a wonderful journey in life, whether it’s music, drama, dancing, sport, the particular academic pursuit you want to follow, find out, and make sure you’re passionate about that. But then there are a few ingredients beyond that. Work hard. I was listening today, Brendan, as we speak, my first national coach, Alan Jones, announced that he was standing down at the end of May from an amazing 35 years of broadcasting.

Brendan Corr
Wow.

Nick Farr-Jones
Amazing success and amazing reach and what have you. He taught me a lot of lessons as a young rugby player, as my coach. One of them was what he’d call the Gucci factor. He always spoke in analogies, he always spoke about true stories and what people said and what have you. The bottom line of the Gucci factor, when he was a young Italian boy, the fashion designer was approached by his dad at the age of 17, and dad said, “Look, son, what do you want to do with your life?” The boy said, “Dad, I want to go into the clothing industry.” The dad said, “You’re in Italy, you won’t be able to compete.” The boy said, “Yeah, I know, dad, but what I would want to do is use the best of everything.” The dad said, “Well, if you’re going to use the best of everything, you’d have to charge the top price. If you want to get the best designers, the best makers, the best fabrics, you’re going to have to charge the top price. People won’t be able to afford your gear.” But the boy said, “Dad, long after the price is forgotten, the quality remains.

Brendan Corr
Yes.

Nick Farr-Jones
I want to encourage your students that there’s a big message in that. You’re going to have to work hard. It’s a bit of what I call blood, sweat, and tears. There’s a bit of perseverance, particularly in these tough times of COVID and what have you. Work hard, go through the challenges, make the effort, go through the pain. Long after the price is forgotten, the quality remains. I look at Alan Jones’ wonderfully successful broadcasting career. If I could just put it in very quickly into my perspective, a kid who went from not being able to play for his first 15, to have 10 years for the Wallabies and captain the team for half that time and to be lucky enough in the right place at the right time to captain a World Cup-winning team. I’m a long time retired. I’m nearly 30 years retired. But I don’t remember the hard yards, but there were plenty of them. There was a lot of pain, there was a lot of suffering. Rugby’s a great game. Touring’s a wonderful way of life. But you got to go through the hard yards. If your students want to achieve their goals and their passions and their dreams, they’ve got to be prepared to change a few things, work absolutely, put my hand on my heart, it’s worth doing, because what you want to achieve is a really, really important thing, in my view.

Brendan Corr
Nick, you’ve mentioned the disciplines and the hard work that you can attribute some of your rugby success to. Was that something that you just were born with?

Nick Farr-Jones
No, no, I think it’s developed. I think it partly comes from your parents and watching them and the way they behave. My dad was a pharmacist, and he worked really hard. He ran a day-night pharmacy. He used to manage other people’s pharmacies until about the mid-seventies when he bought his first pharmacy. He worked particularly hard. My mum, she studied physiotherapy, but when she had my older brother, she basically became a house mum. But nothing was too hard for her. Those sorts of disciplines I think come from your parents, they come from your speeches, they come from those people around you. As I said, when you swim twice a day and then you go from swimming to middle distance running, you learn those disciplines. They hold you in very good stead. I studied law, and my grandfather was a very successful commercial lawyer. My uncle was a barrister, and so I wanted to get into the law, and then I went from there into investment banking, and then into funds management. All those things require discipline. Ange and I, my wife and I are lucky enough to have four wonderful kids. My daughters are 29 and 27, my boys are 23 and 20. Bringing up children and all the disciplines that are required around that, and having balance and working out whose role is what, and Ange and I do that pretty well. I think we’ve done it extremely well. We quickly worked out, because of my life, when our kids were young and my travelling with sport and the fact that I was the breadwinner, we quickly worked out our roles. That, again, is discipline. As I talk about it, my first day in the legal office, Brendan, I went in and thanked my senior partner. I said to Mr. Holden, “Thank you for employing me.” He knew me a little bit. He followed the footy, and we caught up a few times. I asked him a question. I said, “Mr. Holden, what sort of law do you think I’d be good at? Would it be property law, commercial law, litigation, maybe family law?” I’ll never forget his answer. He said, “Nick, don’t worry about the sort of law.” He said, “Work out what sort of person you are.” He said, “There’s finders, minders, binders and grinders.” I worked out very quickly what sort of a person I was, particularly when I moved a young family to Paris in ‘95, and I accepted a job with Societe Generale, a French investment bank, and the cracks in the ceiling were getting wide after a couple of months there not understanding the language, not understanding banking, having not studied economics. But I realised I had to work out what sort of person I was. I was asked to go and open up Africa from the mining perspective. South Africa at the time was the biggest gold producer. We ended up doing really, really well, but I had to work out what sort of, of those four, what was I? For 30 years, 35 years of my working life, I’ve been a finder and a minder. I’m not a binder and I’m not a grinder. But life is about what are your strengths, where do you position yourself. Team is about then surrounding yourself with people that fill the voids, people that love sitting behind a computer, that love doing the financial number crunching, that love writing up a 40, 50-page credit paper. That’s not me. I like to be out there, I like to be meeting the clients, I like to be looking at the deals. I like to be, if we get the client, then minding the client. That’s what I’m good at. I encourage your students, and they’re young, some of them might be 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. You don’t have to work it out tonight, but eventually work out, as I said, what you’re passionate about and where you think your skill sets are. Don’t try and be everything to everyone, but just pursue your particular gifts, gifts that are often given from God.

Brendan Corr
You’re drawing an interesting contrast, Nick, in what you’re describing. Find your passion, find the things that you want to do, that you enjoy doing.

Nick Farr-Jones
And you’re good at.

Brendan Corr
That’s balanced by all the hard work, all the things that…

Nick Farr-Jones
If you want to realise your potential, Brendan, if you want to realise your potential. You’re going to have to come with some hard work. You can’t sit back and take it easy. If you want to find out, whether it’s through academia… exactly. Whether it’s academia or whatever you love. For me, I’m known for being lucky enough to have put on the gold jersey and played for a decade for Australia. It didn’t come easily, I can assure you. The best players that I’ve played with, whether it’s the Campuses, the Liners, the Poidevins, the Eels, the Littles, the Horans, they all had the same common denominator, of being prepared to work hard. People say, “Look, geez, they were gifted. They were fantastic players. It must have come easily.” No. I saw the way they worked. The best players I’ve played with were the hardest workers.

Brendan Corr
Nick, did you see on the counterpoint, people that had as much talent that weren’t prepared to do the hard work?

Nick Farr-Jones
There’s no doubt about that. Some of them I played with that might’ve lasted for a couple of years and fizzled out. I mean, look at any sport. Look at how many people are great young golfers, great young tennis players, great athletes, great swimmers, but, no, if you look at the people that bubble to the surface, that have longevity and endurance and get to the top of their sport or the top of their career, right across all the ranges, they’ve all got that common denominator, that preparedness to roll up their sleeves.

Brendan Corr
Do you think that’s what made you a natural leader, Nick, that attitude of being able to do what was hard right now for the sake of what was coming?

Nick Farr-Jones
It’s always beneficial if you’re seen to lead by example. But as I said, Brendan, I was a swimmer and then a middle-distance runner. I used to love… well, I didn’t love it because it was hard work. Whenever I’d go for a run on the road or the pavement, I made sure it hurt, because that’s no pain, no gain, that sort of thing. But it’s always good if you are the leader, that you set the example. There’s no doubt about that.

Brendan Corr
How have you tried to do that in this world, Nick? How have you led by example when it comes to something like the law or investment banking?

Nick Farr-Jones
Look, I just think more than anything, it’s probably, again, your work ethic, it’s the way you treat people, it’s the camaraderie, it’s making sure that seniority of position and title doesn’t create any, if you want to create a great spirit within the team and a great culture, you respect everyone’s position. You could talk about in the old days of the tea lady and what have you, but I think to build culture and spirit, everyone needs to be brought into the vision of the team, whether it’s the business team or the sporting team or whatever. Everyone has to feel on the same page. Everyone has to know what we’re going after, and you treat people fairly and courteously and with importance right across the team. You listen to people’s concerns. I think they’re important aspects of leadership.

Brendan Corr
You spoke earlier about the spiritual side of your life and the things that were important to you. You also mentioned that your home was a formative place, those relationships with your parents and other family members. Was faith an important part of that formative time, or was it something that came to you later?

Nick Farr-Jones
Growing up, it wasn’t. My parents weren’t and aren’t churchgoers. Mum and dad, mum sadly had dementia for a number of years. We see her regularly at the place she’s at. Dad’s also in aged care and quite immobile. But my parents, no, the church wasn’t important in our household. We went to Christian schools. Newington was a Christian school. But, look, I came to faith, I met a couple of young ladies on a Sunday night up at a pizza place in Caringbah, down in the Sutherland Shire. They were attractive. I always think God moves in mysterious ways. I had said, “Can we see you again?” they were having a coffee after church and I was up with a mate of mine having a pizza. Yeah, I said, “Any chance we could catch up again?” And one of the girls said, “Yeah, yeah, come along to church next Sunday.” So, I went along to Caringbah Baptist and maybe six weeks later, from hearing the… it was interesting, we think we live in Christian suburbs and towns and we go to Christian schools and we live in a Christian country, and yes, we did have Christian studies at Newington, but I really didn’t understand the gospel of Jesus Christ when I started going along to Caringbah Baptist. As I said, maybe six, seven, eight weeks later, I put my hand up and made a commitment. When I started to hear the gospel preached in an undiluted way, when I started to experience what people call agape love, my parents found it very strange that I kept on wanting to go back on Sundays. But at the end of the day, Brendan, that’s going back to about 1978, so we’re a long way down the track, and yes, I’ve matured significantly as a Christian or older Christian would say, “Yes, it is.” You have your good days and your not so good days. You have your good weeks and not so good weeks, and you have your great years and not so great years. But I’m very lucky to have married a beautiful Christian lady who’s got a great faith, whose mum is a very powerful believer and a great lady of prayer. My four kids, they’re believers, and they wain sometimes and what have you, but I can sit here chatting to you on this Tuesday afternoon and say it’s the most important thing in my life. Continue to mature. I mean, I look at, as the Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament as a classic example. He was never comfortable where he got to. He always knew that becoming more Christ-like was his passionate pursuit. He knew that he had a mission to build the early church, and I try to get inspiration from that as I get older. I genuinely think the best years for me are in front of me, particularly my Christian walk. I’m 58 years of age, but I think the best years are in front of me in relation to the influence that I can have as a Christian. At the end of the day, that’s the great commission that Christ said, “Go out and preach to all the world.” We have to, as Christians, try and be a blessing on other people every day. We have to be used by God and Christ and the Spirit just to touch other people, to bless other people, to spread the Good News. Out of us will flow rivers of living water, and that’s to bless other people and to be used by God. So, yeah, it’s important to me.

Brendan Corr
You moved into quite a decade of life when you were playing with the Wallabies, and then overseas for your professional career, to Paris.

Nick Farr-Jones
What, did you think I was a professional rugby player, Brendan?

Brendan Corr
Sorry, the amateur period, I get that.

Nick Farr-Jones
I was either a student or a lawyer at the time, so they crossed over. People make this mistake, that you were a professional rugby player, and then all of a sudden you stopped playing, and then you went into your professional year. No, it was very much you didn’t have the same training commitments and what have you. But when you trained, you trained your butt off.

Brendan Corr
Let me rephrase that. You were involved in a period at the time where you were off on tour for extended periods.

Nick Farr-Jones
Well, the longest one was 10 weeks, which was ‘84, but then ‘85, we didn’t tour at all. So, you had varying things. I think that when I think back to my 10 years, and I never took holidays. My holidays were my rugby tours. The only holiday I took in that 10 years playing for the Wallabies was my honeymoon with my wife when we got married in ‘89. My holidays were rugby tours. I would’ve averaged 10-and-a-half months in the office as a lawyer. Don’t think it was all just running around the world playing footy.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, I get it. Tough way to go. My thought was…

Nick Farr-Jones
No, no, it wasn’t. It was a wonderful way to go because rugby touring was a great way of life. It gave you the passport to the world, it gave you great mateship, it’s just that when I was home, I didn’t take holidays.

Brendan Corr
As it was. In that experience away from your regular base, was it hard to maintain a sense of faith?

Nick Farr-Jones
No, not really. You’ve got to remember, too, they were my younger days of faith. But, look, I fired up pretty quickly with my faith. No, it wasn’t, and people often ask what was touring like and all that, and I suppose just to give you one quick example, there was a guy who I played rugby with at Sydney University. Tony Abbott was one of the props, and there was another guy, who I won’t mention his name, but this guy invited me about maybe 15, 20 years ago to come to a men’s breakfast on a Saturday morning and speak about my faith. I said, “Are you a churchgoer now?” to this guy. He would’ve been the last guy I would’ve thought that would come to faith and a belief and to salvation. I said, “How did this all happen?” And we shouldn’t think like that. I mean, nothing is impossible with God. But one of the things he said, because we toured with Sydney University to Europe in 1982, and he said, “Mate, I always remember, you used to sit in the middle of the bus. Us boofy forwards were up the back drinking beer. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a beer and what have you, but,” he said, “I always remembered, when we’d go on those bus trips to the next town where we’d stay and play the next game, you always spent about half an hour just reading the bible.”

Brendan Corr
Wow.

Nick Farr-Jones
Even on those tours, whilst, yes, the reason a guy hung on a cross was because none of us are without fault. None of us live without sin. Yes, there are things I’m probably not proud of. Of course, there are. That’s why Jesus hung on a cross for us. But I can’t even remember that, but it was just interesting that he noticed that, and it was an important thing to him that he was this young guy on this team that played a decent game of rugby and enjoyed himself and got on well with people, but that was important to him just to spend some time in the Word. So, right back from those early days of rugby touring, my faith was always important. I mean, representing my country, captaining my country, putting our best foot forward on and off the field, and doing that really proudly was really important to me, but also not shirking for my faith was really important to me as well. There were a bunch of Christians. There’s a lot more now in the team. There were a few of us within the team, not that we would get together regularly for prayer or bible readings. But we would encourage each other. Look, I got on well with all my teammates, and they knew the sort of person I was. Hopefully, as I said, leading by example, but being consistent in your new walk, being consistent in the way you deal with people, being consistent in important things, because when you’re together, it can be tense, and there are high pressures and high stakes, you can have bad days. So, being prepared to say sorry or forgiving someone else, really important things, really important aspects of life, of character.

Brendan Corr
That’s describing the connections that you have with a team, and rugby teams, especially when they’re on tour, become very close. You spend a lot of time with one another. You really rub up against one another in the ways that require all of those interpersonal connections you’re talking about. Is it similar when you’re on a board, or is that a different experience of teamwork when you’re…

Nick Farr-Jones
Oh, no, look, working in a business environment, working on a board, they’re all the same things. You’ve got interpersonal skills are hugely important. You think about you and your teachers and what’s important there. Sorry about my dog.

Brendan Corr
That’s good to hear.

Nick Farr-Jones
He’s just barking at something outside, but, no, Brendan, what I think is really, really important in life, and your student’s listening to this, you and I are a bit older, but just consistency of the way you behave. As I said, every now and then, we fall down, and so being able to just say sorry to people is important, and other people will fall down, and being able to forgive people is a really, really important quality in life. You’ve got to forgive, you’ve got to let go, otherwise it’ll affect you, and you got to be able to say sorry. But just the consistency of behaviour, the consistency of people know your character and how you’re going to respond, and being able to reach out when someone’s in need is, I think, a really important quality. So, to have those sensitivities, and for your students, the bible says if you lack wisdom, pray to the Spirit. We all lack wisdom from time to time. We all lack what is the best approach to this problem I’m having with a relationship with someone, whether it’s in the family, whether it’s your close friends, whether it’s someone who’s a bit more distant. Pray for wisdom. God will respond to that, and the Holy Spirit will give you that wisdom of knowing how to behave. But I think consistency of behaviour where people can trust you is a really important ingredient. As I said, I’m 58. I’d like to think I’ve had a reasonable consistency of how I conduct myself and how I reach out to other people, particularly in need. I know quite a few people who love reaching out to the rich and famous. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s really important to reach out to those who are doing it tough as well. I think I’ve had a bit of consistency in doing that over a number of decades.

Brendan Corr
It’s just a bit of personal encouragement, Nick, the reputation of your character is widely recognised and commented on.

Nick Farr-Jones
Thanks, Brendan.

Brendan Corr
It’s very true. You had departure, you’re a practicing lawyer, successful in that space, balancing that with success in your amateur rugby career, and then make the big decision to start a whole new career and hang up the boots and head to Paris and learn economics. What was going through your heart as you were taking your family to a different part of the world?

Nick Farr-Jones
Look, Brendan, there’s probably a number of things that were in that. I’ve always wanted to spend some time in Europe. Life was getting out of control in a nice way, but post-rugby, I had a lot of demands on my time. I really wanted to cut the umbilical cord, to an extent, and I thought just going to a place like Paris, where no one would know me, I could just take a young family. My wife learned French at university and school, but really just to get away from the busyness of life, and have some, what I might call downtime. Plus, it was a very good offer. I’ve now been 25 years in investing and lending in the mining industry, and I find it a fantastic and fascinating industry. We all rely on mined commodities. Sometimes people paint them as bad, but your students know that every commodity that’s mined goes into these things, and I’m holding up an iPhone, into your television, into your electricity, into your car, into every aspect of life, whether it’s gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, tin, cobalt, your coke and cole goes into the steel production, your iron ore goes into your steel production, your thermal coal goes into your energy that goes into our iPhones and our computers, people forget that, and it’s a fascinating sector. I call it the two degrees of separation. You get to know everyone. Globally, you get to know all the companies, the ones that succeed, the ones that don’t. But I’ve been 25 years now in that mining finance space, and I just find the people, the diversity of the people, the engineers, the geologists, the metallurgists, the financiers, the brokers, I just find it a terrific industry. There’s an opportunity to give back, because a lot of our investing and financing goes into emerging countries, so we do quite a bit in West Africa, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Côte D’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast, and the contribution of mining to those countries can be as much as 25, 30% of their GDP. What it means to the GDP of a country, the growth of a country, the employment for the country, for the communities, for me, I just find it a fascinating industry. But there were challenges when we first went over, but I’ve loved every aspect of my life. I’ve really loved every… my wife loved it, getting over to France and Paris. We just did a lot of great things, and we’ve got a lot of great friends. My third child, my first boy, who was born in France, he’s got four French godparents, and they’re all special. Just the connections. Ange and I were due to go to France in July this year. We still have the plane booked. We were going to go via Wimbledon and then down to Italy. We’ve still got so many great friends, and that’s a really special part of our life. After the four years in Paris, I came back and ran the mining finance team for the French investment bank for 10 years, so that was a great time. Two of my colleagues from Societe Generale are still with me at Taurus Funds Management, so we’ve been blessed.

Brendan Corr
You’ve mentioned.

Nick Farr-Jones
France is a great time. The next Rugby World Cup will be hosted by France again, so we’re already preparing again for the six weeks over there.

Brendan Corr
I guess that there are some trappings that come with being an ex-captain of the Wallabies, World Cup-winning captain. You may get some opportunities that might not come to everybody’s in-tray. That is balanced by the fact that you live a high profile, highly recognised life. Are you comfortable in that space now, Nick?

Nick Farr-Jones
Yeah, no, very comfortable. Yeah, no, I mean, look, as I said, part of the rationale of going to Paris was just to get away and cut the umbilical cord, and just get away from everything, and just not have the demand on my life at the time. Those four years were wonderful, and as I said, I made a lot of great friends in the UK and France and in Europe. But there is a focus on the way you behave and what you do and what you say. There’s a constant, whether it’s the Israel Folau issue that we saw last year, or whether it’s the current issues around the business sustainability of Rugby Australia, where I’ve been a little visible on trying to have constructive discussions. There are better ways of doing things. There’s no doubt that you are in the spotlight. I’ve been approached many times to enter politics and to be given saved seats, both federal and state. But that’s the sort of 24/7 focus that I don’t want. I think I can make better contributions in other areas, and I’d like to think I’ve done a lot of that with a lot of the not for profit work I’ve done and other areas where I contribute. But at the moment, as we go through these issues with COVID and what have you, I salute most of the politicians. They have done an amazing job. I do know a lot of the federal ministers and a lot of the New South Wales state ministers quite well, and I know how they’re rolling up their sleeves and the work they’re doing. It is quite amazing, particularly in some areas of social work and community, and aspects of homelessness and the way that they’re dealt with that during this period, and as we go into winter, the way they’re going to have to continue to deal with that and look after the vulnerable and the people who still go through the terrible things like domestic violence and what have you. I think the state government right across a lot of the portfolios has done an amazing job. I think our prime minister, who we know is a strong, faith-filled Christian, as is his wife, and I assume his daughters, but I think he’s done an amazing job, as has our health minister, and a whole bunch… and Josh Frydenberg. I’d encourage your students in your school to be regularly in prayer for our leaders. It’s a really important thing, and don’t ignore it. I mean, we call Australia the great south land of the holy spirit. We’ve been blessed through this period so far. Let’s remember that there are so many people doing it tough with financial hardship, but as I said, I’ve dealt with a lot of emerging countries, Africa and even South Africa, the biggest economy in Africa, and they don’t have social nets like we do, so they can’t have Jobseeker and Jobkeeper. The guy who drives me when I go regularly to a big conference in Cape Town every year, he called me a couple of months ago, and he’s a taxi driver, he basically is out of work because of the shutdown in South Africa. They don’t have social nets like we do in Africa. So, I’d encourage your students just to be very thankful for the positions that… even if mum and dad mightn’t be working, even if they may have lost their job, we’ve still got a great social network in Australia. Think about the other countries who are doing it tough. Pray for our leaders, pray for their wisdom, and pray for those emerging countries that are doing it so tough and really are facing enormous challenges.

Brendan Corr
Nick, that sentiment that clearly comes from your heart, your commitment to be conscious of those that are less fortunate, you’ve spoken throughout this interview of that desire, that encouragement to think of the other and to be generous in what you do. You and your wife were involved in Stand Tall. For the last few minutes that we have in conversation, would you take some time just to tell us a bit about that?

Nick Farr-Jones
Sure, just for your students - just write down the Stand Tall event. Just Google search that. You’ll see our website. I chair the board. It’s not for profit. My wife co-founded it with a lovely friend of hers, Janine Trahan about eight years ago. We started off just at the Knox School. We used their facilities that they gifted us for a couple of years, started with about 1,000 students. Typically, we aim for years 8, 9 and 10. We think that that’s about the right age for the message that we’re looking to deliver. We then went to Luna Park in the last four years. We’ve been at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, we’re one of their three not for profits that they support, and they’re wonderful supporters of ours. It’s really about hope and resilience and looking after each other and supporting each other. Everyone goes through issues. Everyone goes… sometimes one of the terrible things about schools, and I hope it’s not prevalent at your school, and I’m sure it’s not as a strong Christian school, but things like bullying, but people suffer from all sorts of issues. I mean, whether it’s eating disorders, whether it’s pressure from a whole bunch of other areas, everyone experiences downtimes and a bit of anxiety, and it’s about looking after each other. We get a whole bunch of great speakers who’ve got different messages, but normally, messages of transformation. They’ve often gone through tough times, and they’ve got a wonderful message to send. Brendan, it’s been wonderful to meet you and to hear about your school, and hopefully, your students have got a couple of things that they’ve written down about our little chat.

Brendan Corr
Nick, you were a fantastic person to talk to you, a highly respected and recognised Australian sharing some of your experience and some of your perspective. It’s been a privilege to hear how God has used you and continues to use you, and the success he’s brought into your life for the good of others around you.

Nick Farr-Jones
Good on you, Headmaster. I really appreciate that. To all your students and their families, blessings upon you guys. Make sure, guys, you go out and bless other people. That’s the most important thing. Be used by God to bless other people. Good luck, particularly those who are doing their final years. I know it’s been tough these last couple of months, and just be resilient, be strong, put your head down, work hard, and look after mum and dad and look after your siblings. Really lovely to catch up with you, Brendan. It was a great chat.

Brendan Corr
God bless you, Nick.

About Nick Farr-Jones

Nick Farr-Jones was captain of the Wallabies that won the Rugby Union World Cup in 1991, the Bledisloe Cup in 1992 and defeated the Springboks in 1992. He was capped 63 times for Australia, including 36 as captain. Nick completed a Law degree at the University of Sydney before practicing law while pursuing his amateur rugby career. In 1992, he became a Member of the Order of Australia, in 1999 was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame and in 2001 was awarded a Centenary Medal for service to Australian society through Rugby Union. After hanging up his boots, Nick has worked in investment banking and funds management for Societe Generale and Taurus Funds Management, respectively.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).