Barry Donald Stumbles
- 555Wallaby Number
Barry Stumbles was a strapping, athletic backrower / lock who rose to prominence during a difficult period for Australian rugby.
Born and bred in Canberra, Stumbles was deemed too heavy to make the weight divisions of the various junior football codes so he concentrated on softball. He attended Canberra High School where his rugby prowess, particularly in the lineout, did not go unnoticed. Remarkably he was chosen in the 1st XV while still in the junior school. From there Stumbles won selection for ACT Combined High Schools and for New South Wales Country aged teams to contest the State and Australian Championships.
At the Australian National University Stumbles was drafted into the local Northern Suburbs First Grade side where he played alongside Wallaby #528 Owen Butler. Ironically It was Butler’s misfortune that presented Stumbles with his first big break in representative football. The year was 1968 and Butler was forced to withdraw from the Country match against Queensland. Stumbles was called into the team as a late replacement without so much as a training run and performed brilliantly against incumbent Test lock Peter Reilly.
Stumbles debuted for both Sydney and New South Wales in 1970 but then retired on doctor’s advice due to a nerve blockage in his neck. He returned to rugby in 1971 and was picked for his first Wallaby tour, to France. In 1972 Stumbles toured to New Zealand and following an injury to Peter Sullivan in the 1st Test, Stumbles came on to make his debut. His strong performance was rewarded with a start in each of the final two Tests.
In 1973 Stumbles was selected in a World team to play Scotland as part of their centenary celebrations but badly injured his left knee and had to return home early. At the end of the year the Australian selectors deemed that he had not sufficiently recovered from that injury and overlooked him for the short Wallaby tour to England and Wales. As a result Stumbles switched codes to play rugby league for St. George.
Barry Stumbles played four Tests for Australian in a one-year international career.
Stumbles won his first Test cap off the bench as a No.8 when he replaced Peter Sullivan, and Tony Gelling moved to flanker, in the 1st Test, 6-29 loss to New Zealand in Wellington. Two weeks later he won his first cap in the run-on XV at lock alongside Garrick Fay in the 2nd Test, 17-30 loss in Christchurch. Stumbles shifted to No.8 and Reg Smith came in at lock for the 3rd Test, 3-38 defeat at Eden Park. He played his final Test back at lock, and scored his first Test try, in combination with debutant Bob Wood in the 21-19 victory over Fiji in Suva.