St Helens RLFC have passed along the sad news that Vinty Karalius, one of the legendary figures of the British (and indeed international) game, has passed away. Although he was a bit before my time as a Rugby League spectator, Karalius’ reputation preceeded him as a true great, and certainly everyone I know who was old enough to have seen him play tell me that he was one of the greatest.
Karalius played for St Helens and Widnes in a storied career spanning 15 years. He is considered one of the finest hard men that the game has ever known, and his performances for Great Britain against Australia led to the Aussie press dubbing him ‘The Wild Bull of the Pampas’, a nickname that stuck. He was well known for developing punishing tackle technique, and for also being far ahead of the British game in terms of his conditioning and fitness work. Those factors, combined with a fully working rugby brain and a more-than-capable handling game meant that Karalius was often lauded as the complete Loose-Forward.
Karalius leaves a legacy as one of the most punishing defenders ever to play the game, but also as being a gentleman off of the field as well. One of the players truly respected (and indeed feared) by the Kangaroos, he brought passion, determination and no shortage of skill to the field. Although it is past forty years since he last played, he is still respected as a great player and as an innovator, and also as a nice guy. He will be missed.