Bryan Colden Egan
Bryan Egan was the third member of a distinguished rugby family to wear the colours of The King’s School, Easts and New South Wales. Ben, also a centre, had toured with the Waratahs in 1927-28 and was a member of the New South Wales team that thrashed Great Britain in 1930 by 28-3, while Tom played for the State against Victoria in 1927 but failed to make the touring team that year.
Bryan, although eligible to play for University, followed his brothers to Easts and quickly made the firsts before winning State honours for the 1936 matches with Queensland and Victoria. Following sound performances in those matches he was chosen for the New Zealand tour. As a young centre he was always going to have his field time limited by tour skipper Dooney Hayes, Bill McLaughlin and Ron Rankin, although Egan would eventually be justified for returning home feeling hard done by.
Hayes was injured early in the tour, which effectively ended his participation, and Rankin played most of his matches at fullback. Egan was available for matches when loose forwards Tom Pauling and Owen Bridle were used as centres, which suggests the tour selectors did not have the same faith in his ability as those who chose him in the first place. It is hard to conceive of a more frustrating set of circumstances for a young player on his first tour. Egan was only given three minor matches and did not get a run until the fourth match, against Wairarapa-Bush. Australia was expected to win easily but the unfamiliar combination of heavy rain and a heavy pitch – Wairarapa mud can be energy-sapping stuff – did not help the tourists and they turned in a poor effort, allowing the home team to win 19-13 in a real upset.
Egan marked his debut with a well-taken try, kicking over the home backs and regathering to score but he, like most of his backline colleagues, was limited by the weak forward effort. Egan missed the Test – he was never a real chance of playing – and turned out in the midweeker against North Otago. The home team was not expected to win, although they needed to be treated with respect, and Australia did get away with a 16-13 victory, although it was hard -earned.
Egan again missed selection for the second Test but played against Southland, who was defending an impressive record against Australian teams. The Maroons secured another victory, by 14-6, and Egan had a quiet day in midfield. He was not chosen for either the Canterbury or New Zealand Maori matches – this last game was the easiest of the tour and Egan, along with some of the other second-stringers, should have been given a run. As it was, Bridle played centre and enjoyed the outing as Australia cut loose.
Egan finished with big-time rugby after that tour, when he was only 20- years -old. He completed a law degree at university but returned to farming in the country rather than head to city courtrooms to earn a living. His son, Jack, kept the family name to the fore over many years, as one of Australia’s most respected cricket writers and historians with a string of scholarly articles, books and moving picture productions to his credit.
Obituary: “The life of Bryan Colden Egan ended at Dubbo on 25th July, 1970, aged 54 –Bryan remained an athlete throughout his life. Brilliant at games he left School, aged 17 in 1932 with a Leaving Certificate and Athletic colours and re-dates in Cricket and Football. Punctilious to a degree, he was superb to watch in the covers or at short leg. An aggressive batsman and up to his death many a bowler twenty years his junior watched his delivery land over the boundary! In the footsteps of his brothers Tom and Ben (whom in his younger days he idolised), he represented Eastern Suburbs, NSW and Australia as a centre three-quarter. Immaculate in dress and mind, nothing could be out of place and everything had a place. His standards and beliefs were exacting and as a young man his criticism penetrated with rapier sharpness. With age carefully camouflaged ( too often with a handkerchief) an engaging humour replaced the rapier but not the penetration. A tall, modest fellow with an athlete’s physique, tailored to perfection, he carried an air of distinction- cautious with people this was often misinterpreted as arrogance. Known affectionately to the local young as ‘the Count from the Mount’.
“Bryan qualified as a lawyer but after serving as Captain in an ASC unit in New Guinea with 2nd AIF, returned as a grazier to the family home Mount Harris, Warren, where he found the fulfilment of his almost pedantic standards in conflict with the prevalent ‘it will do’ attitude. The detailed attention to maintenance at Mount Harris indicated that he never accepted second best which was reflected in the high standard of the Mount Harris sheep and their wool.
“Bryan’s enthusiasm for games brought Rugby to the Warren district. He was foundation President of the Warren District Rugby Club and foundation member of the Haddon Rig Cricket Club. He kept sport in the district flourishing to the great joy of Sportsmen and their sons. It was to Bryan’s able and trained mind that the district turned to grapple with the Macquarie water scheme, which, as President of the Warren and Lower Macquarie Development Association, he handled with great skill over a long period to a most successful conclusion. Bryan maintained a constant association with, and had a deep affection for his sisters Margaret and Sheelagh and his brother Tom, who together with his two fine sons Jack (Captain of The King’s School, 1959) and Shane survive him. He was a stickler for etiquette and conducted himself with an almost old world adherence to the disciplines in which he believed. He was at his best with a glass and a meaty topic for discussion. He had the ability to listen and expressed his thoughtful opinions backed by wide and current knowledge with delightful acumen. Men and women alike enjoyed his company. That such a fit, outstanding all-rounder should perish too soon is a great loss to his friends and the community as he had so much to offer.”