Andrew Richard Town
Andy Town was an unselfish, attacking fly half with good hands who specialised in creating opportunities for his three-quarters. A punishing cover defender who rarely kicked the ball, Town was also a man of his word. Incredibly Town’s word cost him a tour to South Africa when he was in the prime of his rugby career.
Born and bred in Sydney, Town played his first rugby for the U10s at Northern Suburbs. Town was educated at Sydney Grammar School, one of the Wallabies’ great pre-World War II nurseries, where he played one season in the 1st XV (1958). Unfortunately, a broken hand in the final round against Newington saw him miss selection at GPS level.
After school Town played a single season with the Manly Lifesavers U21s before he returned to Norths. His big break came in 1962 when he earned selection in the Wallaby trials ahead of the tour to New Zealand. Town was chosen for Probables, partnered with 1961 Wallaby tourist Owen Edwards, in the early trial vs. Possibles while Newcastle’s Phil Hawthorne and Queensland’s Reg Sutton won selection to face each other in the main trial - The Rest vs. Australia. Unfortunately, Sutton stood down from the Australian side as he was not available to make the New Zealand trip for personal reasons. Sutton’s withdrawal saw Hawthorne switch sides and Town promoted to the main fixture. While Hawthorne laid “strong claims for selection” with his performance, Town more than held his own in The Rest’s narrow 12-16 defeat and it was no surprise when both uncapped players were named in the 25-man squad.
Unfortunately, Town then twisted his right ankle in a club match against Drummoyne. While he went on to pass an exacting physical test on the ankle, the injury failed to withstand the rigours of tour football. Town made his debut for Australia in the third tour match, the 43-0 win over Wairarapa, where it was said he “played well, often gaining valuable ground with line kicks”. R.H.Chester and N.A.C.McMillan wrote in ‘The Visitors’ that “Town combined well with Catchpole and initiated some excellent back movements”. Town’s ankle then kept him sidelined for four matches, including the opening international at Athletic Park where Hawthorne debuted, and he was restricted to just two of the final six matches.
In 1963, Town made his debut for New South Wales in their 21-9 win over Queensland at Normanby Oval before he made himself unavailable for the selection trials ahead of the Wallaby tour to South Africa. Town withdrew from the trials in order to honour a commitment he had made to his employer a year earlier. Town’s boss promised to pay him full wages for the seven weeks of the New Zealand tour however that offer was contingent on Town not heading off to South Africa for three months with the ’63 Wallabies. True to his word, Town didn’t contest the trials and the selectors chose second division Hawkesbury Agricultural College fly-half John Klem as Hawthorne’s understudy. The year ended on a brighter note when Norths defeated University 21-14 to win the first-grade premiership.
Town returned to the Wallaby trial fold in 1964 when picked as a reserve behind Hawthorne, Drummoyne duo Malcolm Ross and Ray Pride, and Queensland’s Rick Trivett. Trivett ultimately won the race to be Hawthorne’s back-up while Town finished his season in style as he led Norths to back-to-back Shute Shield triumphs with a 27-13 win over University. A hat-trick of grand final wins was upset by Randwick before Town played one final season and retired.
Town started three matches on the Australian tour to New Zealand - vs. Wairarapa at Masterton (W 43-0); vs. North Otago at Oamaru (L 13-14); and vs. Wanganui (W 29-6).