Ernest Victor Ritchie
- 205Wallaby Number
Vic Ritchie was one of Sydney rugby’s great clubmen of the 1920s. A prop forward in a highly competitive era for places in the front-row, Ritchie’s decade long association with Glebe-Balmain club saw him earn national honours in 1924 and 1925. Born in the Newcastle region, Ritchie first came to notice when he made his first grade debut in 1920. Ritchie honed his craft for four seasons with the Reds before he finally broke through to the higher honours in 1924. The press of the day wrote that his arrival on the representative scene was ‘not surprising’ given ‘he was always on the ball’ and ‘worked hard in the scrums’. Although only chosen as a reserve for the NSW v Next XV trial match ahead of the inbound tour by New Zealand, Ritchie came off the bench and solidified the scrum. That performance earned him a call up to the training squad for the first Test of the series from where he edged Easts’ Charlie Thompson to partner Tom Davis and Jock Blackwood in the front row.
Although he did not know it at the time that match was Ritchie’s official Test debut after an ARU decision in 1994 elevated the remaining 34 New South Wales matches played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period to Test status (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals were given Test status in 1986). Despite their ‘surprise [20-16] victory’ it was opined that the home side ‘were not successful in hooking the ball in the scrums and consequently the opportunities of the home backs was limited’. As a consequence Thompson came in for the second Test however the rotation continued when Ritchie returned to replace Davis for the third international.
A year later Ritchie was fortuitously overlooked for the opening Test when NSW were humbled 3-26 although just four days later he started in the state 2nd XV which upset the tourists 18-16. As a consequence of those two results one of the great selection culls of all-time saw 11 of the starting 2nd XV, Ritchie included, chosen for the second Test. Retained for the 3rd Test he was unfortunate to be unavailable for the return tour to the Dominion. In 1927, Ritchie, as the Reds’ ‘star forward’ remained very much in the mix for a spot on the Waratahs’ tour to the northern hemisphere however he suffered a very untimely injury a week ahead of the trials and as a result the opportunity to secure a spot in the 29-man squad was lost. Vic Ritchie played four Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Ritchie won his first Test cap at prop in the 1st Test, 20-16 win over New Zealand at the RAS Showground. After dropping back to the reserve bench for the second Test, Ritchie returned to start the 3rd Test, 8-38 defeat.
Ritchie earned caps in the 2nd Test, 0-4 loss and the 3rd Test, 3-11 defeat to New Zealand in Sydney.