Paul Vautin


Paul Vautin : biography

21 July 1959 –

Paul Vautin wasn’t seen at his best was named captain of Manly-Warringah in 1985 by coach Bob Fulton. The season was also the only one of his career in which Vautin wore shoulder pads while playing, forced by a shoulder injury which required pain killing injections before each game. His 1986 season was cut short when he broke his left forearm in Round 8 against Penrith at Brookvale. Fatty made his return on the bench in a 16-8 win over Canterbury-Bankstown in Round 24, but Manly would lose their last three games of the year, their season ending after losing the Minor Preliminary Semi to Balmain 29-22.

Vautin enjoyed success in leading Manly to an 18-8 victory over the Canberra Raiders in the 1987 Grand Final, the last played at the Sydney Cricket Ground in front of 50,201 fans. Before the 1987 season had started, the Manly club board had wanted coach Bob Fulton to install Kangaroos second rower Noel Cleal as club captain, replacing Vautin who had captained the side since 1985. Fulton stood firm however and Vautin remained as captain (Cleal missed the first 8 games of the season while recovering from a broken arm suffered on the Kangaroo tour). During the season, many described the relationship between "Fatty" and "Crusher" as ‘frosty’ as a result of the captaincy saga, though both players deny this. In Cleal’s first game of the season in Round 9 against Eastern Suburbs at Brookvale Oval, he scored the match winning try by grounding a Vautin grubber kick, with Fatty among the first to congratulate him.

Always a larrikin, when Vautin and Canberra captain Dean Lance came out for the toss of the coin before the Grand Final, he stated after winning the toss "Oh we’ll bat" in reference to the game being played at the famous cricket ground, before choosing Manly to run toward the Paddington End of the ground in the first half. Vautin later gave a memorable victory speech after the win, saying that Canberra had a fairy tale run to the Grand Final, but that "Last page of the book was ripped out", causing some laughter from those on the podium, as well as his team mates. In his biography Fatty: The Strife and Times of Paul Vautin, he recalled how he had thanked virtually everyone he could think of in his speech, but realised that night after returning home from the celebrations at the Manly League’s Club and watching a replay of the game on video that the one person he forgot to thank was coach Bob Fulton. Vautin rang Fulton in the early hours of the morning to apologise for the oversight.

Following the grand final victory, he traveled with Manly to England for the 1987 World Club Challenge against their champions, Wigan. The home side won a try-less game 8–2 in front of almost 37,000 fans at Central Park. During the match, Vautin was tackled over the sideline in front of the main grandstand. From there, the Wigan players tried to push him over the fence into the crowd, sparking an all-in brawl.

Vautin and Manly team mate Michael O’Connor both signed to play for St. Helens during the 1988–89 Rugby Football League season on 2 August 1988. Fatty would go on to captain St. Helens in his last match for them, a 27-0 loss to Wigan in the 1989 Challenge Cup Final played on 29 April 1989 at Wembley Stadium in front of 78,000 fans. It was the first time in Cup Final history that a team had been held scoreless. Vautin played 21 games for the Saints in 1988-89 and made his debut in English club football on 9 October 1988 in a 30-22 win over Hull Kingston Rovers at Craven Park in Hull. He scored 4 tries in his 21 games for St Helens.

Both Vautin and O’Connor had returned to Manly for the 1989 NSWRL season, and Vautin played his last season with Manly before being pushed out of the club following his support of former team mate, coach Alan Thompson who was eventually sacked after just one year in charge in favor of former Wigan and New Zealand national team coach Graham Lowe (Vautin had been offered a contract for 1990 that was reported to be considerably less than his 1989 salary of A$95,000). Lowe then would go on to name O’Connor as the new captain of the Sea Eagles.