- 336Wallaby Number
Eric Tweedale was a mighty front-row forward who corner-stoned the Australian scrum when international rugby resumed after World War II. An individual of sterling character, Tweedale was extremely mobile and always in the thick of the tight exchanges. He had one notable advantage over rival props in that he was relatively tall for a prop, at 6ft. 1in., and therefore not only afforded Australia solidity in the pack but also as an extra lineout forward to boot.
Born in Rochdale, just north of Manchester in England, Tweedale emigrated to Australia in 1924. He attended Parramatta Intermediate High School but did not play his first game of rugby until age 15. At the urging of ‘Wild Bill’ Cerutti (Wallaby #246), Tweedale joined the local Parramatta club and within just two seasons made his first grade debut, against Drummoyne.
A year later he was picked at lock for North v. South and for Metropolitan v. the AIF. Tweedale then served in the South Pacific with the Royal Australian Navy but continued to play under the Serviceman’s rule for Parramatta in the local Sydney competition although, in 1941, he spent a season with the Western Suburbs Magpies in rugby league.
He returned to Australia in 1945 and the following year, after being reinstated to rugby in the wake of that league sojourn, made his debut for New South Wales in an all Parramatta front row alongside Ken Kearney and Len Wolfe. His state performances earned him a spot in the Australia v. The Rest trial match and then selection on the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. Tweedale endured an ignominious start to his Test career in Dunedin when he was replaced after just 20 minutes due to a probable dislocation of the right shoulder.
In 1947 Tweedale reached ‘the pinnacle’ of his career when chosen for the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe. He played in four of the five Tests and was also honoured to be selected in the first-ever match for an international team against the Barbarians RUFC.
Tweedale cited business commitments when he retired from Test rugby after the 1949 home series against the Maori however he was not lost to rugby. Tweedale moved to Parkes from where he captained NSW Country against the British Lions and led Central Western against Fiji. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Forbes Rugby Club. Tweedale returned to Sydney in 1957, and with his beloved Parramatta facing relegation (something the club managed to avoid), resumed his playing career as captain, and a year later as captain/coach.
Eric Tweedale played 10 Tests for Australia in a four-year international career.
Tweedale won his first Test cap at prop alongside Wal Dawson and ‘Wallaby Bob’ McMaster in the 1st Test, 8-31 loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook but lasted just a quarter of the match when replaced by Ernie Freeman due to a probable dislocation of the right shoulder. Tweedale missed the next three matches but returned for the 2nd Test, 10-14 defeat at Eden Park.
In order to accommodate two Queenslanders in the 1st Test team against New Zealand in Brisbane, Tweedale was named as a reserve but not used. He was promoted to the starting XV for the 2nd Test, 14-27 loss at the S.C.G.
Tweedale was capped in the opening two Tests on the Third Wallabies tour, against Scotland and Ireland, but missed the Welsh due to a shoulder injury. Recovered he started at prop in the win over England and the loss to France.
He won his final three caps in the drawn home series against the Maori however in the opening two Tests he stepped back to the second row in combination with Rex Mossop. Following a bad loss and then a draw, Tweedale returned to the front row with Nev Cottrell and ‘Tarakan Jack’ Baxter for the convincing 18-3, 3rd Test victory.