Bruce Clifton Caldwell
- 258Wallaby Number
Cliff Caldwell was a straight running and skilful centre who enjoyed a whirlwind two-year career in senior representative rugby.
Born in Sydney, Caldwell was educated at Sydney Grammar School where he played three seasons in the 1st XV. Regarded as ‘fast, safe in handling and determined’, Caldwell partnered fellow future Wallaby Dave Cowper in the centres for the 1927 Combined GPS 1st XV.
After graduation Caldwell went straight into first grade at Randwick alongside the great Cyril Towers and immediately impressed with his danger in attack and his high class goal-kicking. Within three months Caldwell was named for his state debut, against Victoria, at Carlton Oval where a depleted New South Wales XV came away with with a narrow 22-19 victory.
Caldwell’s emergence could not have been better timed given that the long 1927/28 Waratahs’ tour to the Northern Hemisphere had seen 13 tourists either retire or declare themselves unavailable ahead of the upcoming tour to New Zealand. The 26-man squad, which remained fluid right up until the time of their departure on the Ulimaroa, included four centre three-quarters – Towers, North-West’s Don Bull, Robert Burge and Caldwell. Unfortunately, in the first match of the tour against Auckland, Caldwell burst a vein in his leg and it was feared the injury would rule him out for the rest of the year. Then, having not played for three weeks, Caldwell was surprisingly named for the third game against New Zealand in Christchurch which, some 66 years later, would be confirmed as his Test debut. That match was one of 34 that were retrospectively elevated to Test status by the ARU in order to recognise all New South Wales fixtures played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals had been granted Test status in 1986).
In 1929 the Waratahs’ Sid King returned to reclaim both his state and national jerseys and as a result Caldwell, as well as both Burge and Bull, struggled for further representative recognition. At the end of that season Caldwell retired from rugby in order to concentrate on his accountancy studies.
Cliff Caldwell played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #258.
Caldwell won his first Test cap at inside centre, in combination with Cyril Towers, in the 3rd Test, 11-8 victory over New Zealand at Lancaster Park. Unfortunately he suffered a leg injury and was replaced before halftime by Bob Burge.