Barry David Honan
- 518Wallaby Number
Barry Honan was an incredibly versatile back, best suited to inside centre / fly half, who was cut down in his rugby prime by a career ending injury. A punishing tackler, Honan had all the skills however his most outstanding feature was his intelligence on the field and the ability to read a situation.
Born in Brisbane and educated at Marist Brothers, Ashgrove, Honan played his club rugby for Brothers under the coaching of Jim Kenny.
He made his senior representative debut, aged just 18, for Queensland against New South Wales in 1966. When New Zealand toured Australia in 1968 Honan was included in the squad for the two Test series. He was selected as a reserve for the first Test in Sydney and made his international debut after John Brass was replaced with a dislocated shoulder.
In the second Test of that series Honan was involved in one of Australian rugby’s great controversies. The Wallabies were on the verge of a great upset at Ballymore when they led 18-14 with two minutes on the clock against an All Black team that had won 11 consecutive internationals. New Zealand were on attack and centre Bill Davis looked for Grahame Thorne however the right winger had been impeded by Alan Cardy who did nothing more than hold his own line.
With Thorne momentarily out of the play Davis dropped the ball onto his foot and kicked toward the corner. Almost simultaneously Honan, who was very much committed to the tackle and literally in mid-air at the time, brought Davis to ground. The ball rolled into the in-goal area and stopped. Alex Pope, who was fresh off the bench having just replaced the injured Phil Smith, sprinted crossfield to beat the advancing outside backs. Pope had a shorter distance to cover and comfortably dotted the ball down well in advance of any other players arriving.
Nonetheless referee Kevin Crowe showed little hesitation, “blew the whistle, ran to the sticks and gave a penalty try."
Huddled behind the posts Cardy asked Crowe why the try had been awarded. Crowe claimed it was “for the late tackle by Barry Honan on their centre” however, some years later, having seen the footage which clearly showed the Honan tackle not to be late, he changed his tune and stated that the penalty try was for Cardy’s interference on Thorne. All Black fullback Fergie McCormack knocked over the conversion from in front and the game was lost 18-19.
Honan then played in eight of Australia’s next nine internationals, including all four Tests on the 1969 tour of South Africa, where his versatility truly came to the fore.
In order, Honan started those eight Tests at inside centre, left wing, fullback, fullback, inside centre, inside centre, outside centre and inside centre.
Upon his return from South Africa, Honan underwent surgery to address a cruciate ligament injury he first suffered in 1965. The surgery was not successful and eventually led to his retirement from the game.
Barry Honan played nine Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Honan won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced John Brass at inside centre in the 11-27 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G. He earned his first run-on XV cap a week later in the second Test alongside Phil Smith in the 18-19 loss at Ballymore. Honan picked up a third cap on the left wing in the 11-10 victory over France in Sydney before he started at fullback in both away internationals against Ireland and Scotland.
Honan started all four away Tests against South Africa, the first at inside centre with Smith, the second at inside centre paired with Stephen Knight, the third at outside centre in combination with John Ballesty and the fourth back at inside centre in partnership with Knight.