Reggie the Rabbit: The Rabbitohs 18th Man and The Most Famous Bunny in Australia!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Reggie the Rabbit!"

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Reggie the Rabbit!”

The rabbit, historically, has never been a welcome animal in the land down under.  Then again, when your kind multiplied like, well, like rabbits and ate through almost the entire country nearly 120 years ago, it is hard to be beloved, no matter how adorable you may be.  In the neighborhood of Redfern, just a short drive from downtown Sydney, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have been sort of the best PR campaign ever to bring greatness and respect to this four-legged lapine.  But one particular two-legged lapine has done wonders for both the team, for rabbits, and for rugby league fans all over.

"You know you love me!"

“You know you love me!”

Standing tall at over 6 feet, 6 inches (7 feet if you include the ears), Reggie the Rabbit is the South Sydney Rabbitohs beloved mascot, not to mention one of the most recognizable characters in the National Rugby League.  After all, when your team is comprised of 17 gigantic rugby players that can charge up the field in a flash,  and their mascot is a giant white bunny in a red and green jumper, people are going to take notice.  Fortunately, Reggie is as beloved by the fans as the team itself.  Then again, everyone loves a rabbit!

They say that behind every great man is a great woman.  Well, behind every great rabbit, is a great man.  For years, Reggie has been portrayed by Charlie Gallico; faceless to the fans, but not to those at South Sydney, who hold the pint-sized 70-year-old dear to their hearts.  Gallico, has been involved with the club for the past 33 years, and you would be hard-pressed trying to find someone who would gain greater pleasure in a South Sydney premiership than him, let alone the fans.  But earlier this year, while he was having dinner with the Rabbitohs players, he received a phone call that turned his world upside down.  His lovely wife Sofia, who had been in the stands for every South Sydney home game in his 12 years as Reggie, had taken a sudden turn for the worse; she tragically passed away.  The fans, along with the friends and family of Gallico mourned from Redfern to Maroubra, and here in Long Island where yours truly sent his condolences halfway around the world.

Fast forward to Round 12 of the 2013 season.  The Rabbitohs took the field against the Newcastle Knights in front of thousands of Rabbitohs fans at ANZ Stadium and Reggie still found the strength to lead his beloved South Sydney into battle.  In a turn of events, instead of leading the team out onto the field, the players came out first and then led Reggie out onto the field.  Within seconds, the entire stadium erupted in the happiest of cheers.  This became a key moment in which I became enamored with the team.  I mean, since when in American pro-sports do the fans pay that much of a tribute to their mascot?  I even listened as the commentators and coaches saluted Reggie like a proud solider.  The game looked like it would be Newcastle’s during the first half, but the Rabbitohs went on to win 25-18 after a drop kick field goal sealed the game.  The climatic moment came when the players hoisted Reggie onto their shoulders, and carried him off the field as the fans stood up and cheered like crazy!  Since I was at home watching the game on my laptop via the internet, I stood up and clapped, then attempted to hold back a tear or two, but to no avail.  That kind of love and camaraderie for someone on your team, even if they’re not someone who takes the field to score or the strongest individual, is something so seldom seen in pro-sports, at least here in America.  Coach Michael Maguire asked Gallico to address the players in the sheds after the victory, but what preceded his heartfelt talk with the players was a gesture that will live with Gallico and his family for the rest of their lives:  ”I didn’t expect Issac Luke and Adam Reynolds to come up to me and carry me off the field with the team.  I was crying inside the suit.  That’s when I knew what respect was all about.  To me it meant more than anything in the world.  I watched these guys as kids, but now they were carrying me from the field.”  My wife would’ve loved the fact I still went out that night.  It wasn’t easy on me but she loved South Sydney. The boys won for me that night. That was the highlight of my time as Reggie.”  Reggie the Rabbit isn’t your ordinary mascot; he’s the only mascot in the NRL who does not get paid.  He has not missed a home or away game since taking on his duties when the Rabbitohs re-entered the competition in 2002, after being barred back in 1999.  Gallico also takes much pride and joy doing charity work with South Cares and Make-A-Wish Foundation; he travels to Nepean Hospital and Newcastle visiting sick children.

 

"Three Cheers for Our Favorite Rabbit!"

“Three Cheers for Our Favorite Rabbit!”

When I went to see the Rabbitohs in person, Reggie lived up to every last bit of hype.  The way he ran out onto the field, the way he led The Burrow in a cheer, and even the way every last fan practically leaned off the front row just to get a picture or a handshake, er, I mean, “pawshake” with him!  When he noticed my poster, boasting that I came all this way from America to see the Rabbitohs, he pointed to me, pounded against his chest, and reached out for a hug!  Unfortunately, the fan who took my photo with my iPhone kind of botched it!  Damn!

"I came all the way from USA to meet you!"

“I came all the way from USA to meet you!”

After seeing the Rabbitohs and Reggie in person, I am proud to call myself a fan of the greatest team in rugby league.  In fact, I go so far as to say that I’m a proud Australian rabbit!  I do believe that E. Aster Bunnymund himself would be very, very proud of  this Australian bunny!  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were related!

"And a one, and a two, and a three!"  LET'S GO RABBITOHS!

“And a one, and a two, and a three!” LET’S GO RABBITOHS!

 

I’d like to dedicate this article to Sofia Gallico.  As she looks down from heaven watching the boys in red and green, she’ll point to Reggie and say, “That Rabbit is MY Husband!”  GO BUNNIES!

 

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
This entry was posted in Animals in New South Wales, Australia, Famous People, New South Wales, Sydney, What to see in Sydney and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Reggie the Rabbit: The Rabbitohs 18th Man and The Most Famous Bunny in Australia!

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Great entry–so glad you had such a wonderful time! We missed you at the engagement party!

  2. Kylie Macnaughton says:

    Thanks for such a great read ! Glory Glory !!

  3. Mark Williamson says:

    Charlie’s wife and son Anthony sits next to my family and I at the home games. We held ourselves together during the Newcastle game, till Anthony blew a kiss to his mum in heaven as Souths scored. Tears flowed freely from his red and green family. Thanks Jared for telling this story about our Reggie

  4. Dave Reynolds says:

    Jared, my wife and I were sitting in the row in front of you in the corner in front of the Burrow. After reading your sign we wondered how you came to be there. Now we know! Glory, glory mate…

  5. Kate says:

    I am so proud to call myself a rabbitoh! And to know that the fans are world wide makes me even prouder. Our history and culture at this club runs deep through our veins. We bleed red and green. Welcome to the family Jared.

  6. Paul Condon says:

    Nice Jared, it was a great story. I was born into being a Rabbitoh, family from Mascot, lived opposite Redfern Oval for a while when very young and was taken to many games, so I was wondering how you found the Bunnies?
    Looking forward to your reply
    Regards Paul

  7. Liz Bramble says:

    I loved reading your story Jared..Charlie is an amazing man he has touched my heart with his kindness and love…Reggie is the shining light of our club and forever will be.

  8. Jo Samuels says:

    That’s was a great story ,
    A true legend our Reggie Rabbit

    Proud to be a member

  9. Rachael Pejic says:

    Jared is a legend. An Americanan loving soith sydney rugby league. I have had the pleasure to spend time with jared in new york and he has now become a personal friend of mine and has turned me from a penrith panther to now a southssydney fan! Ya know what, he does resemble Reggie in many ways!

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