A History of Rugby in Victoria

researched & written by Ron Grainger

DONNING THE STATE JERSEY

victoria-1908

Clad in jerseys of blue and gold hoops this Victorian Rugby team (above) in August 1908 played against the soon to be dubbed First Wallabies as they commenced their long tour to Great Britain and North America. The Australian side stopped over in Melbourne on their long sea voyage to the northern hemisphere.

The Victoria vs Wallabies contest at the MCG came in a year when the rival Rugby League club competition had started in earnest in Sydney, the NSW Rugby League having been established the previous year. The NSWRL had organised their own tour of Great Britain, the Kangaroos departing a few days later than the Union’s Wallabies.

After the New Zealand Maoris vs Victoria match in 1910 it was to be sixteen years before the state side again took on an international team, and twenty years before they were able to put on a creditable performance against an overseas XV, in the 1930 match against the British Isles.

Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop is no doubt the most prominent of the Victorian born players from that period, being the first to be awarded a Test cap in 1932.

This was during that Golden Age of Victorian Rugby when four others, Rudolph Dorr, Frederick Kerr, Stan Bissett and George Pearson were also selected as Wallabies (although Bissett and Pearson missed out on a Test cap due to the outbreak of World War 2).

All were selected to play for the State during the same period; Dunlop and Pearson in the notable game held at the Motordrome on 2 May 1933, when Victoria held Australia to a 12 all draw.

Coincidentally, in the first ever Victorian Rugby match played under lights, on 18 August 1936, George Pearson (Footscray) and ‘Weary’ Dunlop (Old Boys) were captain and vice-captain respectively of the State team.

Research & content Ron Grainger

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2014 by in History, RUGBY in VICTORIA.