THE BOYS FROM THE BUSH
This article was specially written for the programme by Mr Ian Gleeson,the senior Rugby writer for Australia’s only national daily newspaper, The Australian. Ian, who is a brother of Australian cricketer, Johnny Gleeson, is the only Australian journalist travelling with the 1972 Wallaby team.
Even before Don Bradman – now Sir Donald -picked up his first cricket bat and belted his first cricket ball at Bowral, N.S.W., Australians living outside tbe major metropolitan areas had established themselves as capable sportsmen.
‘The boy from Bowral’, as Sir Donald became known, continued this saga which has become just as much a part of Australian history as the bushrangers and the gold fields.
Bradman included, all sportsmen from provincial areas receive the tag – ‘the boy from the bush’ – and through the efforts of many hard working Rugby people, Rugby Union is now filling a void and is literally ‘going bush’.
Country areas of Australia are always included in the itinerary of touring teams and, as is the case in most rural areas, the country visit allows team members to relax in an atmosphere far removed from the hustle and bustle of a big city.
All Australian States are taking part in the Rugby expansion which is giving the code an unprecedented following throughout the length and breadth of the vast Australian Continent.
Because of its amateur approach, which is like a breath of fresh air in this modern finance-biased society in which we live, and its ‘sport for sport sake’ attitude, some of the Rugby revolution stories almost have a romantic ring to them.
It is not my intention here to give a detailed account of the Rugby revolution but a brief mention of two areas in which the game is progressing, will, I hope, give you an indication of the nation-wide happening.
I often feel that mentioning clothes to a nudist is a parallel of mentioning Rugby in Victoria, but the Rugby progress in that Australian-rules stronghold is nothing shortof remarkable.
Four new clubs were formed in Melbourne during the 1971-72 summer and are now fielding teams in the city’s competition. Since then two other clubs have formed and are preparing for the 1973 season.
Bendigo, which was part of the scene of the mid-19th century gold rush, now has a club in its first competitive season.
The day before the first test match in Wellington the N.Z.R.U. approved a tour of New Zealand by a Victorian team in 1973.
Since 1965 Melbourne team numbers, including junior, has trebled and with new clubs forming this trend is certain to continue.
Queensland Country is the other area where a mention here is most certainly warranted.
With principal centres at Toowoomba, Rockhampton and Townsville, Rugby in the country is surging ahead.
Rugby administrators in Queensland have a positive approach to the game they love and early this season the Queensland Country team made its first inter-State tour which included games in Sydney, Newcastle and Inverell.
Apart from matches in Melbourne and Sydney the Junior All Black tour of Australia early this year was centred on Queensland and with similar tours in the offing the Rugby progress is assured.
The 1972 Wallaby team playing on McLean Park, Napier, this afternoon has its fair share of country or former country-based players.
Although never likely to attain the depth which New Zealand Rugby enjoys, the Australian ‘Boys from the Bush’ are playing a big part in steering Australia towards a deeper depth of talent for the selection of future Wallaby teams.
H.B. SENIOR RESERVE
(Black and White)
15 T. Southward
14 G. Hellyer
12 R. Dockery
13 D. Tod
11 S. Sowersby
10 D. Fitzsimmons
9 P. Sowersby
8 P. Halstead
7 K. Bousefield
6 D. Campi
5 G. Hall
4 C. Uarirau
3 T. Wedgewood
2 B. Horton
1 D. Sommerville
16 M. Pulford, 17 W. Robinson, 18 G. Ngaranda, 19 K. Owen.
(Blue Black and White Hoops)
15 J. Te Hima
14 L. Bennett
12 J. Perez
13 S. Mathews
11 E. Mason
10 K. James
9 B. Anderson
8 G. Turner
7 J. Donald
6 I. Glass
5 W. O’Connell
4 G. Mitchinson
3 R. McLeod
2 J. Phillips
1 J. Olney
Reserves – 16 L. Matson, 17 I. Katene, 18 D.Lee, 19 W. Bennett, 20 D. Benge.
Referee: Mr D. PAUL (Hastings)