1911 Tour by Australasia

Hunslet continued to provide representatives for the National team up to the Great War.

A tour to the Northern Hemisphere was undertaken by Australia in Autumn 1911, although, as the squad included New Zealanders they were known as Australasia

Our players involved were :-

1st Test Fred Smith, scrum half, at St James’s Park, Newcastle

Batten was selected for the 1st test but was injured in training and withdrew. The Yorkshire Post match report suggests Smith and his half back partner Thomas were outplayed by their counterparts in a 10-19 defeat.

2nd Test Billy Batten, Albert Jenkinson in the threequarters with Fred Smith retained at Tynecastle, Edinburgh. The home side were 11-3 in front at half-time but an injury to full back Wood meant the Northern Union played much of the second period with 12 men, having a forward out of the pack to cover full back, and Australia fought back to secure an 11-11 draw.

3rd Test Billy Batten, Albert Jenkinson and Fred Smith at Villa Park. Birmingham. Another injury, this time in the first minute to Ramsdale, meant the home side playing 79 minutes with 12 men. Lomas was injured close to half-time and continued although lame. Close to the end our man Jenkinson withdrew with a jaw injury so the NU finished with only 10 fit men. All this made for a difficult match for the hosts and the visitors ran out 33-8 victors.

1914 GB Lions Tour to Austarasia

On 4th March 1914 a tour trial was held at Headingley. We were well represented with Jenkinson (1 try) on the wing, Fred Smith at half back and William Fowler and Walter Guerin in the forwards. Of these Smith and Guerin were selected to tour, together with John Smales in the forwards.

Tour trial 1914. Smith with ball, Guerin and Fowler directly behind him and Jenkinson to his right.

Only Fred Smith was to appear in the Test matches, all 3 versus Australia and the one against New Zealand.

For the 3rd Test on 4th July, England were severely depleted having 5 men injured. A re-arrangement of the match v Queensland to the 20th June meant they had to play 5 games in 12 days before the Test (including 2 Test Matches on 27th and 29th June).and travel back to Sydney by train.

Joe Houghton, the secretary manager, and John Clifford, the team manager, were refusing to play the game until Joe Platt, secretary of the Northern Union telegrammed to say “Instructed to play test match on Saturday irrespective unrepresentative side. More honour if you win”.

Harold Wagstaff, the captain, later remembered Mr Clifford’s pre match speech. “You are playing in a game of football this afternoon but more than that you are playing for England and even more than that, you ae playing for right against wrong. You will win because you have to win, England expects every one of you to do his duty.

The tourists did win, 14-6 despite being down to 12 men before half time, 11 men early in the second half and then 10 men later in the half. This later became known as The Rourkes Drift Test after a famous “backs to the wall” battle in the Zulu War in 1879.

Guerin and Smales still got to play plenty of football on the tour :-

Guerin, Smales and Smith all played against Queensland, Newcastle and Wellington.

Guerin and Smales played against Metropolis.

Guerin and Smith turned out against Ipswich and Taranaki

Smales and Smith were included for the match against South Australia.

The team line ups have not yet been found for the games against Western Districts, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki. We know Guerin played in all 3 as he was among the scorers and Smith scored a try against Taranaki.

Smales played in 2 out of the 3 according to the tour summary and Smith one other.

John Smales 2nd right, back row, Walter Guerin 3rd left, 3rd row

Fred Smith 2nd right, front row

And that was it. Hostilities broke out on the 28th July while the tourists were away. There was no representative rugby until after the War, although the New South Wales League did request a visit to our shores in 1915/16 which was turned down.

Hunslet had a hard time in the years after the War and would not provide another GB player until 1929/30 which is where we’ll pick up next time.