Arthur Cecil "Anstey" Corfe

  • 1Caps
  • 17Wallaby Number
PositionFlanker
Date Of Birth2 June 1876
Place Of BirthChristchurch, New Zealand
SchoolChrist's College, Christchurch, New Zealand
ProvinceQLD
Died29 January 1949
Debut Test Match1899 Wallabies v Great Britain, 2nd Test Brisbane

Biography

Arthur Cecil Corfe was Toowoomba Grammar School’s first international sportsman, representing Australia in Rugby Union in 1899. He was born in New Zealand on 1 December 1879 and educated at Christ’s College, Christchurch, New Zealand, and Toowoomba Grammar School. His father, Charles Carteret Corfe, was an outstanding sportsman who excelled in a wide range of sports; whilst in New Zealand he played against Jupp’s All England Cricket XI and in the Canterbury Representative side which defeated the first Australian XI which boasted players of the calibre of F.R. Spofforth, W.J. Murdock and J. McC. Blackham. Whilst attending Toowoomba Grammar School (from 1890-1896) where his father was Headmaster (from 1890-1900), Arthur too proved to be not only an outstanding participant in team sports such as tennis, cricket and football, but a born leader as demonstrated by his contribution to the School as its Senior Prefect (School captain) in 1896.

In 1897 he left Toowoomba and joined the staff of the Bank of New South Wales in Brisbane. This enabled him to pursue his passion for rugby, for he had been invited to join the Brisbane Grammar School’s Past Grammar Football Club, which, at about that time, had decided to open its ranks to the past students of the other Queensland grammar schools. He quickly gained rugby representative honours, playing a total of nine games for Queensland during the 1898 and 1899 seasons as a breakaway forward. Eight of these matches were played against New South Wales, with Queensland winning three, drawing one and losing four. He played his ninth game for his State against the Great Britain tourists (who were captained by the Rev. Mathew Mullineux, who has the distinction of being the only captain of a British team not to play for England in an international) at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground on 1 July 1899. This resulted in Queensland’s first ever victory over an international team, with Arthur Corfe scoring two tries in the home side’s popular 11 points to zero win. His outstanding form in this game was sufficient to secure him a “cap” for the second rugby Test which was played on 22 July 1899 at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Bowen Park. For this Test, the Australians wore the Queensland maroon jersey with the Australian coat of arms badge, and long white shorts that covered the players’ knees.

In front of the Governor of the colony and his entourage, and a crowd which eventually swelled to an estimated 15,000, Great Britain scored three tries to nil to win 11-0. A reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald described the play as being:… a fine exposition of Rugby . Magnificent play was shown at times, the Englishmen clearly showing themselves to be the better team…. Two of Arthur’s four other brothers were also exceptional rugby players; Anstey (TGS 1890-94) played in representative teams, whilst Duncan (TGS 1890-99) played for New South Wales against Queensland in 1901 when he was a student at Sydney University. Arthur served as a private with the 3rd Queensland Contingent in the South African Boer War, and later as adjutant to the 10th New Zealand Contingent.

At one time he was ADC to the great South African, General Smuts. In World War I he served in the Royal West Kent Regiment, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and being awarded the DSO and two Bars, and the Croix de Guerre. He was wounded twice and taken prisoner. Later, he became a member of the League of Nations Commission for the repatriation of Greeks and Bulgarians. He died in England on 30 January 1949, leaving a wife Violet (nee Boyd), two sons and three daughters. His Toowoomba Grammar School connection is interesting in as much as his younger brother, Edgar Maingay Corfe (TGS1892-1900), is the grandfather of John Corfe (TGS1954-57), who in turn is the father of Carteret Corfe (TGS 1985-89) and William Joseph Corfe (TGS 1988-92).

Arthur Cecil "Anstey" Corfe