Alan Michael Cardy
- 496Wallaby Number
Alan Cardy’s ninth senior match of rugby was also his Test debut. A thickset, fleet of foot winger who dominated the Australia flanks in the late-1960s, Cardy was an imposing physical specimen who ran a number of startling track times to cover both the 100 and 220 yards in even time or better. Cardy coupled speed ‘with an aggression that put his 6ft 1 in., 14 stone frame to good use’, particularly in defence. Not surprisingly he also took a power of stopping when in full flight.
Cardy did not play a single game of rugby until his final year at Katoomba High School where he had concentrated on track and field, in which he became the Combined High School sprint champion, and golf. In 1963, and aged just 17, Cardy placed first in the discus throw at the Australian Junior (U19) National Championships. The next year Cardy recorded 10.4 seconds for the 100 metres to earn the No.2 ranking nationally over that distance. In 1965 he ran 22.0 seconds to finish third in the 220 yards at the Australian National Championships. The fourth place in that race, just one-tenth of a second adrift of Cardy, went to Victoria’s Peter Norman. Norman went on to win the 200 metre silver medal at the 1968 Olympic Games and at the event’s medal ceremony famously donned an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in solidarity with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Later that same year Cardy went down to the Drummoyne Rugby club and, with them knowing little of his background, was graded in the Fourths. Four tries in the first game saw Cardy immediately elevated to Firsts however he then ‘busted a finger’, an injury that put him out for the rest of the season. In 1966 Cardy equalled the state record for the 100 metres when he ran 10.4 seconds at the NSW Country Championships. Unfortunately he pulled a hamstring which denied him the opportunity to compete at that year’s Nationals.
The "Australian Rugby Almanac", who in 1967 named Cardy as one of its ‘Five Players of the Year’ takes up the story: "If for no other reason the 1966 season was notable for the discovery of the young N.S.W. winger Alan Cardy, the most exciting prospect the code has seen for some time. Cardy jumped from virtual obscurity into the Australian Test team in just two months. Possessed of wonderful speed and strength [Cardy] had only played five first grade games one in 1965, four in 1966] when he first won selection…..and seems destined to become one of the country’s great internationals". Cardy’s form in those four first grade matches of 1966 earned him selection for both interstate representative games which in turn were quickly followed by Cardy’s first international match, for NSW in their 6-6 draw with the British Lions. Seven days later Cardy ran out for his Test debut, against the tourists, in Sydney. Unfortunately, both Cardy and fellow winger George Ruebner were injured in the second Test of that series. As a result the Australian backline defence was left in tatters and the Lions ran away with the match in the second half to win 31-0. Nonetheless Cardy was among the first players chosen for the Fifth Wallabies tour of Britain where he proved to be one of the big success stories. Cardy played 27 matches, including all five Tests, and scored 11 tries.
Cardy missed the entire domestic representative season in 1967 due to a hamstring injury but returned for the Bledisloe Cup series the following year. In the second Test Australia was on the verge of a great upset as they led 18-14 with two minutes on the clock against an All Black team that had won 11 consecutive internationals. New Zealand were on attack and centre Bill Davis looked for Grahame Thorne however the right winger had been impeded by Cardy who did nothing more than hold his own line. With Thorne momentarily out of the play Davis dropped the ball onto his foot and kicked toward the corner. Almost simultaneously Wallaby centre Barry Honan, who was very much committed to the tackle and literally in mid-air at the time, brought Davis to ground. The ball rolled into the in-goal area and stopped. Alex Pope, who was fresh off the bench having just replaced the injured Phil Smith, sprinted across field to beat the advancing outside backs. Pope had a shorter distance to cover and comfortably dotted the ball down well in advance of any other players arriving. Nonetheless referee Kevin Crowe showed little hesitation, “blew the whistle, ran to the sticks and gave a penalty try." Huddled behind the posts Cardy asked Crowe why the try had been awarded. Crowe claimed it was “for the late tackle by Barry Honan on their centre” however, some years later, having seen the footage which clearly showed the Honan tackle not to be late, he changed his tune and stated that the penalty try was for Cardy’s interference on Thorne. All Black fullback Fergie McCormack knocked over the easy conversion from in front and the game was lost 18-19.
That match was Cardy’s last in Test rugby. He switched codes in 1969 after he signed a four-year contract to play rugby league with Eastern Suburbs. Injuries, notably a broken leg and then a fractured collarbone, saw Cardy give the game away however his sporting prowess endured. In 1982 he defeated Phil Billings, a three-time Eisenhower Trophy representative, to become the Royal Sydney Golf Club champion. Alan Cardy played nine Tests for Australia in a three-year international career.
Cardy won his first Test cap on the left wing alongside fellow debutants, right winger George Ruebner and outside centre Rick Trivett, in the 1st Test, 8-11 loss to the British Lions in Sydney. A week later Cardy retained his place in the 2nd Test, 0-31 defeat.
Cardy played on the left wing with Stewart Boyce on the right in all five Tests played on the Fifth Wallabies tour to the U.K., France and Canada. He scored his first Test try in the 14-11 victory over Wales, at Cardiff Arms Park.
Cardy and John Cole were the wingers for both Tests of the home Bledisloe Cup series.