Arnold Joseph Patrick Tancred
- 241Wallaby Number
Arnold Tancred was the youngest of the three ‘brilliant’ Tancred brothers, each of whom played Test rugby for Australia during the 1920s.
Born in Sydney but educated in New Zealand, at Wellington Marist Brothers and then St Patrick’s College, Tancred played association football with his brother Jim in the local North District Schools’ representative team and after graduation showed for Marist Old Boys RC Seniors in Wellington club rugby. He also represented Wellington at the provincial level.
Arnold returned to Australia to play for Glebe-Balmain as a centre three-quarter but moved to the back-row two seasons later when an injury prevented him from having full movement in one arm. Some years later Peter Fenton wrote of Arnold in 'For the Sake Of The Game' and said that he “was well suited to the blindside breakaway position… was a strong tackler and an excellent lineout forward.”
In 1927 Tancred was one of New South Wales three ‘outstanding’ forwards in the key trial against a Combined Universities (NSW, NZ and Melbourne) and as a result was invited on the grand tour of the northern hemisphere. Arnold debuted in the seventh match, the 9-3 victory over Yorkshire and Cumberland at Lidget Green before he was chosen to play against Ireland in Dublin. Although he did not know it at the time that match was Tancred’s Test debut following a decision by the ARU in 1986 to elevate the five Waratahs internationals to Test status. The Jack Ford, Wyllie Breckenridge and Tancred back-row was retained for the internationals against both Wales and Scotland before Arnold suffered a tour-ending dislocated shoulder when thrown onto the frozen pitch in the win over Gloucester.
Tancred returned the following year to play for the Waratahs against The Rest at the Sydney Showground only to re-dislocate the same shoulder. Unfortunately the injury effectively ended his playing days however he went on to enjoy a wonderful career in the game’s administration. Arnold coached Drummoyne (1944-45) where he espoused bright and open rugby - "We would rather lose a fast, open game than win a dull, spoiling one. Speed and more speed is our motto."
In 1946 Tancred sponsored a motion to restrict the activities of breakaways at the NSWRU annual meeting. The motion was that breakaways be barred from advancing beyond a line drawn between the centre of the scrum until the ball exits the scrum. The move was passed by the Union council, but had to be endorsed by the annual meeting before becoming operative.
Tancred went on to become the Manager of the 1947-48 Third Wallabies. Despite that team’s great successes there was an underlying tone of disenchantment within the group that Tancred relied too heavily on the team’s proven stars, and did not give the newcomers many opportunities. He became a Life Member of the NSWRU in 1956 and was President of the NSWRU in 1959.
Arnold Tancred played three Tests in a one-year international career.
Tancred won his first Test cap at flanker alongside Wyllie Breckenridge and Jack Ford in the 5-3 victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road. That back-row triumvirate also started in the 18-8 win over Wales in Cardiff and the 8-10 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield.