Ernest Thomas Augood Carr
- 124Wallaby Number
In the years immediately before World War I no Australian team looked complete without Ernie Carr on the wing. This son of a former New South Wales and Queensland representative, Thomas, was one of the fastest men in Australian rugby and a winger who knew his way to the goal-line. After the war, which Ernie survived, his younger brother Edwin maintained the family reputation for speed and finishing ability. If Ernie didn’t have Edwin’s blinding pace – the younger Carr was, after all, an Olympic 100m sprinter - he was still plenty quick enough for any but the fastest wingers to deal with. Ernie Carr was 23 when first chosen for Australia however that disguised his rapid advance in the game as he had only begun to play seriously in 1911, with the Waroo club in the City and Suburban competition. A year later he was graded by Manly and within a year of that happening he had won his colours at both State and Test level. Obviously he had a ton of ability to go with his top-end speed. Sydney fans were expecting something out of the ordinary when Carr lined up for his big-match debut, against the touring Maori team in 1913 and they weren’t disappointed. He scored three tries – it was within inches of being four – and played a blinder in a 15-3 win. He scored one try in the return, which was played on a saturated, mud-covered ground, played against Queensland and was a sitter for the New Zealand tour.
He and another find of the 1913 season, Dudley Suttor, gave the Wallabies strike power that they had not possessed for many years and both looked forward to the tour with solid grounds for optimism. Initially the tour was a slog. The opener was against Auckland, who had just lost the Ranfurly Shield after eight years and the second match was against the new owners, Taranaki. Auckland won and Taranaki was beaten, with Carr scoring tries in both matches, before what was virtually the Test team was surprisingly beaten by Wanganui just before the international. That did not augur well for Australia’s chances and any gloomy forebodings were brought to fruition at Wellington in a southerly storm and pouring rain, where the All Blacks won 30-5. Carr scored Australia’s only try but there was only ever one team in this match.
The All Blacks sailed for California after that match but Australia’s tour continued with a couple of losses in the deep south, to Southland, and to a completely new All Blacks side in the second Test. South Canterbury was beaten and Australia gave a fine display in the third Test, winning 16-5 to record their first win over New Zealand in New Zealand. Suttor was the standout that day but all the Australians played well and Carr’s strong running down the flank sorely troubled the defence. He closed the official part of the tour with three tries in an easy win over Marlborough before scoring all of Australia’s points with another three tries in an unofficial match against the Maori team, which was played as a benefit for one of the tourists who suffered a badly broken leg in Australia.
Carr was always going to play the majority of matches against the 1914 All Blacks and faced the tourists no fewer than six times – all three Tests, both matches for New South Wales and for the Metropolitan Union. Tries were hard to come by for local players, as the All Blacks had worked into a massively strong combination in the 1913-14 period, and Carr’s three-pointer in the tour opener was the first of only 11 tries scored by local teams in 10 matches against the All Blacks. Despite the dearth of tries – something he was not used to – Carr still played well and his defence was often picked out for comment.
At the end of the tour he, like every one of his Australian team-mates, volunteered for military service as war had been declared while the All Blacks were midway through their programme. Carr survived the war and returned to Australia in a fit condition to play rugby, although his pace had understandably dropped away – he was, after all, 34 years of age. He did turn out for a New South Wales 2nd XV against the AIF with Edwin on the other wing and the pair also played against Queensland in the three matches. In the last, which was against an under-strength Queensland outfit, the Carr brothers had a field day. Ernie scored three tries and Edwin four, which was a fitting way for the torch to be passed. Ernie topped the try list in grade rugby that year and then retired. Almost certainly Ernie Carr would be better known had not the war interrupted his career when it was at its highest point, but the same claim could be made for many players. Perhaps the biggest thing that fans missed was the chance to see the two brothers tearing it up down the flanks for Easts for a couple more seasons than they actually did. But those who saw the Carrs in action were lucky to have seen two champions.