Specialist Associate Director

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David Topliss

Topliss captained the three clubs he played for – Wakefield Trinity, Hull FC and Oldham – and also starred Down Under with Penrith Panthers and Balmain Tigers. In total, he played more than 600 games, scoring around 300 tries.

He was a British Lion tourist to Australia and New Zealand in 1979 and coached Wakefield Trinity for seven years.

A successful businessman, Topliss was appointed Manager of Yorkshire for the 2001 County of Origin fixture and served as a performance analyst with The Rugby Football League’s World Class Performance programme.

David Howes paid this personal tribute to his friend and business colleague in the days after his shock passing:

“David Topliss … the husband, the father, the grandfather, the friend, the player, the coach, the mentor, the businessman.

Quite simply, David Topliss the man.

A top player and a great coach

For his inherent qualities and standards were evident in all those independent guises.

Toppo had two families. Wife Daryl, daughters Nicola and Sarah and new granddaughter Faith. Plus the Rugby League family, which has shown its respect, admiration and affection over the past week since his untimely, shock passing away.

Statistics of appearances, tries, trophies, caps and awards provide a snapshot of his rugby career, spanning three decades as a top player and coach.

But facts and figures cannot portray the characteristics which made Toppo such a popular figure on the Rugby League circuit and the wider world of sport.

Having been a friend for the past 30 years and a business colleague for the last five, I have had the honour and the pleasure to experience those special qualities at first hand, along with fellow mate Mick Morgan, who grew up with Toppo to became team-mates at club and international level.

While his family was the backbone of his life, Toppo was also in love with Rugby League.

A true inspiration on and off the field

He regarded it as a privilege to have been blessed with enough talent to become an International player and top coach. Those three decades of participation at the highest level allowed him to test his competitive spirit, which was still a key part of his character to the very last minute in that fateful five-a-side soccer match last Monday evening.

Rugby League allowed him to make friends, many lifelong, among his team-mates and the opposition, the administration, the media and the supporters, in the British game and Down Under.

His positivity towards life and rugby was inspirational. Unlike some retired players who only live in the past, Toppo combined nostalgia with evolution into the modern game of full-time summer rugby.

But while the game changed, Toppo’s values and standards did not. As an Associate Director of Howes Etc, his mentorship of the young players and coaches was based on honesty, commitment, dedication and passion for the 13-a-side code, ensuring that they maximised their talents and enjoyment on the field before concentrating on the financial benefits of it.

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The perfect mentor

It must be noted that when Toppo came to us to join the newly formed player management company in early 2003, he did not want to put in or take out money, just give his time to mentor the next generation. He simply wanted to play an active part in the game which had given him so much pleasure.

Toppo was generous with his friendship, his conversation, his memories, his observations and his advice. He was also generous with his time. Despite his family, business and rugby commitments, he never refused an invitation to represent the game at events, major or minor. Such was his love of the game and the joys it had given him, he was a leading figure in past player associations at Wakefield, Hull, Oldham and, particularly, the British Lions, plus attendance at the Lance Todd Trophy annual presentation dinner.

We will miss you toppo

His forthcoming diary, apart from family commitments, included the Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final between his beloved Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Hull FC, where he was to make a presentation on behalf of the RL Benevolent Fund; a Wembley weekend with Morgy and the wives; a Grand Final weekend with Howes Etc; three weeks Down Under at this autumn’s World Cup with mates; and another trip to Australia next March to see our client Gareth Ellis make his NRL debut for Wests Tigers!

A decision maker inevitably makes foes. Toppo was a coach for seven years and captain at each of his three clubs and for his country for two decades, but earned the reputation for being firm but fair, critical yet constructive.

Thus, as shown by the mass of tributes paid this past week from every sector of the game on both sides of the world, he was revered by all who experienced being in his company and witnessed his playing and coaching performances.

We will miss Toppo, a role model in life and Rugby League.”

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