Evan Morgan "Ted" Jessep
- 290Wallaby Number
‘Ted’ Jessep holds a particularly unique place in the history of Trans-Tasman international rugby. Jessep was the first man to play Test rugby for both New Zealand and Australia. Just as notable is the fact that he played in both the first New Zealand side (1931) and the first Australian side (1934) to win the Bledisloe Cup. Despite reports to the contrary Jessep was Australian by birth but left for the Dominion before his fourth birthday. His family settled in Wellington where he attended the South Wellington High School and played his rugby for the famous Poneke club.
Although he specialised at hooker, Jessep played his first representative rugby at wing forward, for Wellington, in 1926. He went on to be capped 46 times in a seven-year career that included a famous 12-8 victory over the 1930 British Lions. In 1931 Jessep was named in the front row alongside Canterbury's Beau Cottrell, in those days New Zealand set the scrum in a 2-3-2 formation, for his Test debut against Australia in Auckland. A year later Jessep was chosen to tour Australia where he earned the distinction of starting at hooker in New Zealand’s first ever 3-2-3 scrum.
Jessep moved to Australia in 1933, settled in Melbourne and played his rugby with the Kiwis club. He was swiftly drafted into the Victorian state side and a year later was named as the Wallaby vice-captain for the 1-0 home series victory over New Zealand. Australia did not play any Test rugby in 1935 and as such Australia did not play a single Test match in 1935 and as such the 1936 tour to New Zealand took on even greater importance. Jessep came to Sydney with the Victorian XV and played in two of the trials but missed out on a spot in the touring squad.
A year later Andy Barr was named hooker for the biggest match of the season, against South Africa as Jessep had chosen to step back into a coaching role with Kiwis even though he was occasionally called upon to strip in the black jersey. Jessep moved to Sydney in 1940 and as coach and administrator began a long and fruitful association with the Eastern Suburbs club. Over an extraordinary 21 years as first grade coach Jessep led the club to four Sydney premierships, seven grand finals and 16 successive finals series.
Jessep won his first Australian Test cap at prop, in a front-row that included Queenslanders Eddie Bonis and Vince Bermingham, in the 1st Test, 25-11 victory over New Zealand. That same front three were retained for the 2nd Test, 3-3 draw at the S.C.G. that secured Australia’s first ever Bledisloe Cup series win.