Eden William 'Denny' Love
- 279Wallaby Number
‘Denny’ Love was a fly half come front-row forward who played Test rugby for Australia but then retired when still in his prime in order to further his career as a veterinary surgeon.
Born in Sydney, Love was educated at Newington College where he played two seasons in the 1st XV (1926-27) and twice rowed in the 1st IV (1926-27). After graduation Love enrolled in Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. In 1928 he played fly half in first grade as University won their third successive premiership and a fifth in six years.
The following year Love sat in the No.7 seat of the University VIII at the annual national inter-Varsity championship for the Oxford and Cambridge Cup. In 1931, and by now in the front-row, Love enjoyed a breakout season of rugby. Described as ‘one of Varsity’s finest forwards’, Love played for New South Wales in their uncapped match against the undefeated New Zealand Universities side. He then captained a Metropolitan XV against Queensland and seven days later started for The Rest v Australia in what was the final trial match prior to the selection of the Wallaby side to tour New Zealand.
In that game Love was offered a chance through the injury-related absence of Eddie Thompson and ‘seized it grandly’. He was said to be ‘the outstanding tackler among the forwards, fast in the open, and a conscientious rucker.’ Despite having not yet played a capped match for his state, Love was chosen in the touring squad. He started three of the ten tour matches, although ‘Wild Bill’ Cerutti and Malcolm Blair were preferred for the Tests, but returned home a much improved player for the experience.
A year later Blair wrenched his knee against Queensland and then suffered a recurrence of the injury in a club match which saw him ruled out for the season. It was fortunate that Australia had a player of Love’s ability at hand to fill the breach and he deservedly earned a Test debut, against New Zealand, in Sydney. This was the first Test in which New Zealand had packed a 3-2-3 scrum and as such their technique was somewhat unrefined. The All Blacks suffered something of a rude shock when the Wallaby front row achieved near-total scrum dominance, a factor which helped lead Australia to an unlikely victory.
In 1933 Love made the Wallaby tour to South Africa however Cerutti and Max White started in each of the five Tests. Nonetheless he played in 12 of the 23 matches and was twice honoured with the captaincy, against Western Province and North-East Districts. The following year Love led Sydney Uni to the Australian Universities championship however soon thereafter was lost to the game. Love formally retired from rugby after he successfully negotiated the final veterinary exams to attain his degree.
Love won his first Test cap at prop, alongside Eddie Bonis and Cerutti, in the 1st Test, 22-17 victory over New Zealand at the S.C.G. That front-row trio were retained for the final two Tests of the series.