Edward Francis Mandible

  • 3Caps
  • 89Wallaby Number
PositionFly half / Centre
Date Of BirthMay 11, 1885
Place of BirthSydney
SchoolSt Aloysius' College
Debut ClubSydney
Other ClubEastern Suburbs (Sydney)
Debut Test Match1907 Wallabies v New Zealand, 2nd Test Brisbane
Final Test Match1908 Wallabies v Wales, Cardiff
DiedApril 3, 1936


Ed Mandible was born in 1885 in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, and died relatively young in 1936. He was a product of St Aloysius College, as was ‘Paddy’ Moran and Dan Carroll, and then played for Eastern Suburbs in 1904. He was a plumber by trade. In 1905 he switched from Eastern Suburbs to Sydney District. While at Eastern Suburbs he played both centre and wing, yet his preferred position appeared to be five-eighth. However Lou D’Alpuget was the Easts’ five- eighth when he began , and the immortal ‘Snowy’ Baker to halfback. Paddy Carew, who played for Queensland some 16 times, was also in the backs, as was Percy MacNamara. Mandible was in the 1904 side that won the premiership that year.

In 1905 the New Zealand team arrived, and Ed Mandible was picked in the centres against them (3-22). He did not, however, play on the NSW team against them. At the end of the season the first fully representative Australian team went to New Zealand, and the 20-year-old Mandible was not among them. There was such a furore over his non-selection that he was sent, and accompanied the team, but was not allowed to play.

In 1907 the All Blacks toured again, at a time when discussion of professionalism was rife, and the NZ All Golds, a rugby league selection, toured Australia. The All Blacks’ first match on tour in 1907 was against NSW, and Mandible was the five-eighth, with Fred Wood halfback. ‘Dally’ Messenger, who turned professional in the weeks ahead, was on the wing. It was a 11 to 3 win for NZ. Some 51,000 spectators appeared for the match. Mandible was moved to the wing for NSW in their second match, Chris McKivat playing five-eighth. It was a glorious win for NSW, 14 to 0. There were 23,000 on hand.

New Zealand was held scoreless for only the third time in their history and this was the first occasion it had happened in Australia. Another huge crowd , 50,000, came to the SCG for the first Test , won 26 to 6 by NZ. Mandible was not selected, McKivat playing in the pivot position. When the second Test team was announced, Mandible was in it, for his maiden Test. The Australian team on 3 August 1907 at the Brisbane Cricket Ground was Billy Dix, Dally Messenger, Boxer Russell, Frank Bede Smith, Edmond Parkinson, Ed Mandible, Fred Wood, Peter Flanagan, Bill Richards, Jack Fihelly, William Canniffe, Peter Burge, Voy Oxenham, Butcher Oxlade (capt.) and Jack Barnett. It was a 14 to 5 victory. Mandible played well enough to be selected for the first Test, at the SCG. It was a 5-all draw.

The birth of rugby league in Australia, it was later found out, was two days before this match at Bateman’s Hotel, and one week after the match the first openly professional rugby match was staged, between NSW and the NZ ‘All Golds.’ Messenger turned professional after this match. Mandible had played for NSW 1906, 07, 08, and was selected on The First Wallabies tour to the British Isles in 1908-09. He was still only 23 years of age. Peter Sharpham wrote, in The First Wallabies: “Because of his strength and his prodigious sidestep Mandible was expected to be one of the successes of the First Wallabies, but a leg injury early in the tour and heavy grounds encountered in late November and December conspired against him.” Mandible started the tour in the British Isles as if he would emerge among the greats of the game, scoring two tries in his opener against Devon (24-3). Then he was in the Gloucester game, Australia winning 16-0. An injury in this game severely affected his tour. It would be five weeks before he appeared again against Midlands and East Midlands (5-16).

Three days later he played against the Anglo-Welsh (24-0). On the basis of his recovery he was picked in the first Test, against Wales at Cardiff. The Australian team, on their narrow 6 to 9 loss that day, was Phil Carmichael, Dan Carroll, Ed Mandible (at centre), Darb Hickey, Charlie Russell, Ward Prentice, Chris McKivat, Bob Craig, Paddy Moran (capt.), Tom Richards, Paddy McCue, Son Burge, Jack Barrett, Tom Griffin and Charlie Hammand. This was Australia’s only third loss in 22 games. It was close and hard rugby, it was cold and raining as the game commenced, and the ground was slippery and soft. These conditions did not suit Mandible. Mandible played a series of games in quick succession: the Glamorgan League (11-3, try), Newport (5-3), Abertillery (3-3), Swansea (0-6) and Cardiff (8-24).

This would be his last game on tour, and this included North America, because of an ankle injury. He missed the England international and the final two games of the British tour, against Bristol and Plymouth. The other games were against University of California, Leland Stanford University, All California, Vancouver, Victoria (BC) and New South Wales. There is no explanation for his absence in Peter Sharpham’s The First Wallabies. In 1909 fourteen of the Wallabies defected to rugby league, and Mandible was one of them, for one hundred pounds. As a plumber, this would be close to a year’s salary for him.

Edward Francis Mandible