Vale former Wallabies Captain Dr Richard Tooth, Wallaby Number 383

by Rugby Australia

The Australian Rugby community is mourning the loss of 10-Test Wallaby Captain, Dr Richard Murray Tooth.

A premier utility of his time praised for his safe hands and hard-hitting nature, was Australia’s 41st Wallaby Test Captain.

Hailing from Bombala in south-eastern New South Wales, Tooth did not take up Rugby until undertaking his studies at the University of Sydney in 1948. Here his scholarship extended well beyond the classroom, being coached by former All Black lock, Harold Masters.

A gifted playmaker, Tooth’s first representative honours came when he was selected at inside centre for the Australian Universities in a three-match series against New Zealand Universities.

Following this, Tooth made his senior representative debut for New South Wales in 1950 against the touring British and Irish Lions. Tooth later earnt national selection in 1951, where he made his Wallabies debut at flyhalf, paired alongside Cyril Burke in an 8-0 loss at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After a hiatus from the game following his fourth-year medical examinations and a battle with injury, Tooth returned to the international stage, gaining selection at fullback in the 1954 two-test series against Fiji.

In 1955, Tooth earned his first inclusion in a Wallabies tour, playing in all three test matches against New Zealand - the first at fullback, the second at inside centre and the third at flyhalf, of which the Wallabies won the first two.

In 1957, Tooth was selected as the 41st Captain of the Wallabies, leading the side out on two occasions, in Sydney and Brisbane. The second Test in Brisbane marked Tooth’s last in Wallaby Gold.

Following his retirement from Rugby, Tooth headed to Britain to further his medical career while continuing to play Rugby for Rosslyn Park, even captaining the club side.

Tooth later returned to Australia and his alma mater in a coaching capacity, while also becoming a pioneer in the medical field, assisting in the development of arthroscopic surgery. Most notably, Tooth performed the first full knee reconstruction on Australian soccer legend, John Warren.

Outside of Rugby, Tooth married his wife Marianne Stenstrom in 1956, and they had four children, Robyn, Chris, Kate and double Olympic Gold Medallist – Liane.

Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach, Tim Walsh is Tooth’s great nephew.

He was, and forever will be Wallaby Number 383.

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