Allan William "Copper" Kent
- 118Wallaby Number
Better known as “Copper” Kent, Allan Kent was a big rawboned, 15 stone front row forward who had the distinction of representing Australia, when he was chosen for the 1912 tour of America and played in the only Test match of the tour. Born in 1891, Kent attended the Toowoomba Grammar School from Jondaryan on the Darling Downs. In 1909, he won his way into the Queensland side while playing in Toowoomba for Past Grammars. He made his representative debut in the opening interstate clash in Sydney that year and held his place throughout the series. In the following season, Kent missed Queensland’s early matches against New South Wales in Sydney and the tour match with the Maori in Brisbane on 11 June 1910; but he returned for a week later for Queensland’s match against the touring All Blacks when the home side lost narrowly by 19-15.
Nevertheless, the Queenslanders had expended a great deal of energy in that match and were unable to contain the All Blacks four days later and lost 21-3. By now, Copper Kent was established as one of Queensland’s finest forwards and he was one of the first forwards chosen to meet New South Wales in 1911 in Brisbane. His partners in the front row were Sam Topham at hooker and Dr John Fitzhardinge, who had represented New South Wales while studying medicine at Sydney University. After Queensland’s narrow 18-12 loss, the selectors moved Kent to number 8 for the return encounter but the visitors ran away with the match by 24 points to 3. The powerful New South Wales team travelled to Toowoomba on the way home to play the local team. Bristling with Wallabies, the visitors expected a comfortable win.
However, on a cold winter’s day, the Blues were discountenanced by the Downsmen who won an historic victory by 14-11 through a magnificent goal from a mark kicked by Kent, two tries to winger Lou Meibusch and one to his brother Frank Meibusch and a goal kicked by Sam Parker. Toowoomba halfback, Bob Meibusch, joined Kent in the Queensland team that travelled to Sydney for the two interstate matches. The visitors were routed in both games – 34-14 and 34-15. So, in 1912, New South Wales travelled to Brisbane expecting an easy time of it in the opening match of the series. However, two former Australian forwards immeasurably strengthened Queensland. ‘Butcher’ Oxlade returned from the country to captain the side and he was joined by Billy Richards to give the team a great pack of forwards. Kent packed down in the front row with Oxlade and Sam Topham, Dan Williams and Pat Murphy paired in the second row with Peter Cunningham and Richards on the side of the scrum and Bill Murphy was at number 8.
Playing for the first time in navy blue shorts, Queensland’s powerful, experienced pack paved the way for a win by 18 points to 15. Kent produced one of the finest games of his career in the win, kicking two goals and scoring one of Queensland’s four tries. Queensland easily won the return match by 23-8 and seemed in line for their first series win since 1898. With a team to be selected to tour North America following the return interstate series in Sydney, the Queenslanders had high hopes for a solid representation but the poor weather ruined their hopes and New South Wales won both games by 12-3 and 19-4. Nevertheless, Kent’s outstanding form of the past two seasons could not be ignored and he was one of the first forwards chosen along with other Queenslanders, Bill Murphy, Peter Cunningham, Jimmy Flynn and Lou Meibusch.
The team toured as the Waratahs and played in the sky blue Waratah jersey. Still only 21 –years- of -age, Kent was one of the stars of the tour, playing 12 matches and scoring six tries, a conversion and a penalty goal for 23 points. He played in the only international of the tour when the Waratahs beat the United States of America 12-8 at Berkeley. California. In all, Copper Kent represented Queensland in 16 matches – 14 against New South Wales and two against the All Blacks. In those matches, he scored ten points through two tries and two goals, but his main claim to fame is that he was able to become a fixture in the State side at 18 years- of -age from Toowoomba in an era when the Queensland selectors tended to prefer the metropolitan players to country ones.
Allan William (‘Copper’) Kent was born in Toowoomba on 10 February 1891. He died in 1966. Whilst at Toowoomba Grammar School in 1905-1906 he proved to be a particularly competent sportsman in cricket (as a wicket-keeper in the main- First X1 1905-1906), rugby (First XV 1905-1906) and swimming. He played representative rugby for Toowoomba, Darling Downs, Queensland and one Test match for Australia. He was a splendid forward whose importance cannot be judged by his appearance on the one overseas tour he made to the USA and Canada with an Australian team. He was at his prime during a period of intense dissatisfaction from country footballers in relation to the “raw deal” they reputedly received from Queensland rugby union selectors.
His skills, and those of the Meibusch brothers, demonstrated emphatically to the selectors that more consideration should be given to country players. The Darling Downs’ team defeated the NSW team 14-11 in 1911 when the NSW team included the Test stars Fred Wood, Ward Prentice, Danny Carroll, Larry Dwyer, Tom Griffin, Harold George, Ted Fahey and Jimmy Clarken. New South Wales had beaten Queensland comfortably by 24 to 3 when the only Darling Downs players in the Queensland side were Lou Meibusch and Copper Kent. Playing for the Downs XV in a resounding win against NSW, Lou Meibusch scored two tries, his brother Robert one, and Kent kicked a goal from a mark, to go with a conversion kicked by Sam Parker.
This surprising win clearly showed that the strength of country rugby was not reflected properly in the composition of the State team. In 1912, Copper Kent, then 21, and Lou Meibusch, 18, went to North America as members of the Australian rugby team, and it was on that tour that Kent played in his only Test, which was against the United States at Berkeley, California, where Australia staged a late recovery to win 12-8. Allan Kent returned from the tour acclaimed as one of the finest forwards Australia had developed. He was a skilful scrummager, a sound tackler, and he had the trick of suddenly breaking into the open with the ball. He was also an accomplished goal-kicker, adept at landing goals from marks. His performances for Queensland between 1909 and 1912 and his American successes, along with those of his Toowoomba team-mates, won justice for Queensland country players, but it proved to be short-lived when the Queensland Rugby Union went into recess at the outbreak of World War 1.