David John Shepherd
- 495Wallaby Number
David Shepherd was a tough, skilful and versatile loose forward who enjoyed a short yet extremely successful Test career during the Wallaby renaissance of the mid-1960s.
Born in Knutsford, Cheshire, England, and educated at Blundell's School, Tiverton, Devon, Shepherd played centre in the 1st XV for three seasons (1952-54) and captained the side in his final two years. He was also a fine cricketer who featured in the 1st XI for three years (1951-53), the last as captain.
Shepherd’s father was sent to Australia in 1953 to become chairman of Unilever. David arrived in Melbourne during the summer of 1954/55 as a ‘well-credentialed young Englishman’ and ‘was quickly snapped up by Harlequins’ for whom he played until 1964. His achievements as a Harlequin and then as a Wallaby were of huge personal significance to Shepherd. In 1957 he was one of five Harlequins selected to play for Victoria against New Zealand. The 3-28 score-line was not a genuine indication of the play and a press review suggested the home side ‘offered stiff resistance and tackled well all day’. The match was also notable for one other reason; it was the first game of rugby to be televised in Victoria.
In 1963 Shepherd was selected on his first Wallaby tour, to South Africa under John Thornett. He played 11 of the 24 matches but did not win selection for any of the four Tests. The following year Australia toured New Zealand and after losing the first two Tests the selectors made three changes for the final Test in Wellington. Beres Ellwood came in for Bob Honan, Jim Boyce for Dave Grimmond, and Shepherd - on debut - for Dallas O’Neill. Shepherd deservedly won selection ‘after displaying fire and spirit’ in his two uncapped matches against Mid Canterbury and Bush. Australia scored a famous 15 point (20-5) victory that day, the Wallabies largest all-time winning margin, one that stood until 1999.
Shepherd was transferred to Sydney in 1965 and joined the Gordon club. That season he made his debut for New South Wales against Queensland and 12 days later was in the state side that upset South Africa 12-3. To prove that result was no fluke, the Wallabies then won both Tests to record Australia’s first ever series victory over the Springboks. Shepherd finished his international career against the might of the 1966 British Lions.
David Shepherd played five Tests for Australia in a three-year career.
Shepherd won his first Test cap at No.8 alongside Greg Davis and Jules Guerassimoff in the 3rd Test, 20-5 victory over New Zealand at Athletic Park.
Shepherd, Davis and John O’Gorman formed the back row in the 1st Test, 18-11 win against South Africa at the S.C.G. Guerassimoff came in for Davis in the 2nd Test, 12-8 victory at Lang Park.
Shepherd, Davis and Guerassimoff started both Tests against the British Lions.