A sure sign you’ve made it in rugby league is when one word evokes thousands of them.
For proof, think Joey, Artie, Bozo, Alfie, Freddy, Sterlo, Changa, Blocker, Chook — both Raper and Herron — plus Fatty, Hindy, Rabs, Gus, Chippy — even Grasshopper.
Then, there’s Buzz.
More than simply being the undisputed No.1 in Australia’s most competitive and ruthless sporting round — that of rugby league coverage in Sydney — Phil “Buzz” Rothfield has risen to become part of the code, part of its fabric, as he continually breaks the NRL stories that matter most.
This week, he celebrates 45 years at News Corp and some of sports’ biggest names and fans — including Prime Minister Scott Morrison — have offered up tributes to The Daily Telegraph institution.
PRIME MINISTER AND FELLOW SHARKIES FAN
“Buzz, 45 years — it’s an extraordinary achievement. But mate, I don’t think you’ve ever felt like you’ve been at work one day of that entire period. Because you love what you do, you’re extraordinarily good at it, and you really care about the subject matter. You love your sport and you particularly love your NRL. You love your footy and, mate, you love your Sharks. So Up, Up Buzz … and Up Up Cronulla.
Two die hard Sharkies fans. Picture: InstagramSource:Supplied
AOC PRESIDENT AND IOC VICE-PRESIDENT
“Buzz has his place in the pantheon. Not only has he been writing the great sports stories of the past 45 years, he’s a huge figure in the very story of Australian sports writing itself. You don’t earn that place by taking a back seat. Phil has never done that. You have to tread on toes, pull the odd ear and perhaps a few other things. Above all, he has broken the stories and given us the goss that has been part of the sports folklore of this state and Australia. I look forward to the second half kicking off just as I am looking forward to my beloved Wests Tigers making the eight.”
From artie to nathan, and still buzzing. 45 years on the #nrl beat and still going strong. Dont miss @nickwalshaw read on our colleague and mate @BuzzRothfield in tomorrow's @telegraph_sport . Congrats curls. @dailytelegraph @FOXNRL @BulldogRitchie pic.twitter.com/dKB4G1sRPG
NSW DEPUTY PREMIER
“I’ve followed Buzz’s coverage of rugby league since before I can remember. Nobody reports on the game quite like him. Whether he’s covering Origin, going head-to-head with radio hosts or challenging the chairman himself, Buzz’s passion for the game is clear. Forty-five years at The Daily Telegraph is an incredible milestone and a testament to his deep knowledge and understanding of the sport and its fans.”
“Buzz has more contacts than an optometrist. In fact, and what amazes me, he sometimes knows what’s going on before it even happens. When it comes to rugby league journalism, he carries legend status.”
NRL CHIEF EXECUTIVE
“Congratulations on 45 years at News Corp, Buzz. Rugby league and media are two of the most dynamic and challenging industries and you’ve seen it all. Everyone who follows our game knows you’ll be all over the issues and have a strong opinion on how to address them. Thank you for telling the game’s stories for 45 years and for the passion you have in doing it. There are times we agree and times we agree to disagree, but what’s not up for debate is the passion you have for the game.”
Ricky Stuart and Phil Rothfield enjoying a quiet one at a The Sunday Telegraph Christmas Party.Source:News Limited
“I’d love to have a dollar for every argument or blue Buzz has had over a story. But what I respect is that’s Buzz’s loyalty to his craft as a journalist and the company, which I know he always puts first.”
LEAGUE GREAT AND FORMER NSW ORIGIN COACH
“I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Buzz since first coming through in ‘87. He can break a story, too. I remember being in hospital once when (fellow Daily Tele journalist) Dean Ritchie came in to see me. Anyway, during the visit, Buzz happens to ring Bulldog and ask where he is. When told, he replies ‘shit, what’s up with Loz? Get the story.’ But Dog says, ‘mate, it’s a personal visit, I can’t write a story’. So after a little while, Buzz gets on the phone to me to have a chat as well — asks how I am, tells me to take care, health being the most important thing and all that. Then at the end of our call, I hand the phone back to Bulldog … (laughs) which is when Buzz tells him ‘OK, just get the bloody photo’. Sure enough, next day I’m in the paper.”
Buzz and Laurie Daley in the White Ribbon Walk. Picture by Damian ShawSource:News Corp Australia
AUSTRALIAN CRICKETERS’ ASSOCIATION BOSS AND FORMER NRL CEO
“Congratulations Buzz on 45 years. A milestone to celebrate and acknowledge. I have enjoyed our discussions and debates over the years, but always knew never to answer your call or text message during a Sharks game. Well done on your contribution at The Daily Telegraph.”
“Buzz and I have something in common given I started with the Roosters, through my sponsorship, 45 years ago, too. And over that time we’ve had some ups and downs, some nice conversations, and some not-so-nice conversations. But when it comes to journalism, Buzz isn’t only highly respected, he is the best in the game. I have the utmost respect for him. Congratulations.”
Phil Rothfield and old sparring partner Todd Greenberg.Source:Supplied
ARL COMMISSIONER AND EX-QUEENSLAND PREMIER
“No one can doubt Buzz’s passion for rugby league, which has been evident throughout his 45 years at News. Buzz is never short of an opinion or an exclusive on the latest development in the game. I loved dealing with him when I was ARLC chair. Congratulations Buzz.”
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH JOURNALIST
“Buzz is the most natural sports journalist in Australia. Even after 45 years in Sydney’s cutthroat media industry, he continues to drive agendas and break the biggest stories in rugby league. His mental toughness to survive and flourish is truly remarkable. Buzz thinks differently to all other reporters. He never switches off. Buzz is, put simply, on another level. Personally, he has been a wonderfully loyal friend for 32 years. We have shared so much together, professionally and personally. Great knock, red cheeks.”
Buzz with his old mate Dean Ritchie.Source:News Limited
NRL HEAD OF FOOTBALL
“Buzz started covering the game around the time I first entered (as a referee) and we’ve basically mirrored each other all the way. When it comes to a story, Buzz is like a dog with a bone — he’ll move heaven and earth to beat everyone to the punch. And, at times, we’ve had some tremendous stoushes in his pursuit of that. But we always know we’re both trying to do our best in the roles we have. At times, that brings us into conflict. But we’re always back on track very quickly. Buzz has become a great friend over that period and I’m very happy to say he remains one. Although we still have our disagreements, we’re still good mates.”
Buzz with daughter Emma (C) and Jae Withers (R). Picture: Toby ZernaSource:News Corp Australia
“We are so proud of Dad and what he has achieved. He’s taught us ambition, loyalty and hard work. Every day we see him strive to be better than the day before. I feel so lucky to have grown up watching him work with such passion. I hope Jack and I can have even half the career he has had so far. Congratulations, Buzzy.”
Originally published as‘On another level’: Buzz celebrates 45 years at The Tele
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