Arthur Brian "Snow" Erby

  • 5Caps
  • 189Wallaby Number
PositionFront row forward
Date Of Birth12 October 1903
Place Of BirthSydney
SchoolThe Kings' School
Died2 March 1972
Debut Test Match1923 Wallabies v New Zealand Maori, 1st Test Sydney
Final Test Match1925 Wallabies v New Zealand, 2nd Test Sydney

Biography

Arthur ‘Snow’ Erby played eight of his nine matches for New South Wales in one season (1923) and was recalled for one match two years later. Small for a prop, even then, he was 5ft 11in (1.81m) and 12st 10lb (81kg). He was still one of the bigger forwards selected for the 1923 New Zealand tour in a tiny pack. That size imbalance was to cause problems throughout an unsuccessful tour and Erby would know all about it, as he played six of the ten matches. He had first been seen on the big stage in 1922, when he played for the State Second XV against both New Zealand Maori and the full All Black side that toured a month later, as well as for the Metropolitan Union against the All Blacks.

The two Toms, Smith and Davis, were the first choices at the time and Erby was generally regarded as number three. He played the first two matches of the 1923 Maori series but was replaced for the third by Reg Ferguson, probably with an eye on the touring party that was soon to sail for New Zealand as the series was already decided. Erby, who was held up due to university exams, arrived in time for the third match (the first Test) but was not chosen. He got his first game against Southland and played the next six. The lightweight touring pack was having all kinds of trouble with the New Zealand forwards and those problems only got worse at Invercargill.

Completely outplayed up front and unable to win much useful ball, the tourists crashed to a 9-31 defeat that did not auger well for the second Test. Erby was one of only two changes made in the visiting side – New Zealand made eight – but it was the Kiwis who showed the improvement and who won comprehensively. Again, the Waratahs had serious difficulty winning any worthwhile possession and were defending for most of the match. That pattern continued against Hawkes Bay Combined – the majority of the home side were from Ranfurly Shield holders Hawkes Bay – and Auckland-North Auckland, again mainly drawn from one team, also inflicted a heavy defeat.

Things improved with a win at Hamilton, although the opposition was the weakest met all tour, and an All Black side showing 14 changes from Christchurch ran away with the Wellington international. All up, this was not a tour that did much for Sydney rugby and there were few occasions when the visitors threatened the various home sides. Erby was relegated to the second-string matches in 1924 – his only appearance against the All Blacks was for Metropolitan Union in another heavy defeat – and in 1925 he first played against the tourists for the New South Wales Second XV. That was perhaps the biggest break Erby ever got in his career, as the State team had been crushed on the Saturday and the seconds had a totally unexpected win on Wednesday.

No fewer than 13 of the side were then promoted for the following international, which New Zealand only won by a dropped goal to nil. Erby was replaced by Smith for the third match but again faced the visitors for the seconds, this time in a match won by New Zealand. Another couple of inches in height and a further stone in weight would have served Erby well, as he was an ‘almost but not quite’ sort of player. He was generally chosen to plug a gap in the first team and discarded when the first choice player returned to the fold, but he was always a trier and never complained about his lot.

Arthur Brian "Snow" Erby