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Garrick Fay was a strapping lock who presented a massive presence in set phases and his technical contribution was much underrated. He was also the consummate rugby tourist.
Fay attended the Shore School in Sydney however it was not until he caused a commotion playing for Northern Suburbs’ fifth grade side one morning at North Sydney Oval that his true value on the rugby field was appreciated. A week later he was in First Grade and a representative debut, for Sydney against Fiji in 1969, was soon forthcoming.
Fay then left Australia for London to study hotel management and play rugby for Wasps. He was back with Sydney in 1971 and played against the touring Springboks. When the locking pair of Stu Gregory and Reg Smith were not retained for the second Test in Brisbane, Fay was called in to make his international debut. That debut proved to be a baptism of fire for he and his second row partner Owen Butler were given a serious lesson by the experienced South African pair of Frik du Preez and John Williams who won the lineouts 30 to 8.
The following year he was chosen on his first Wallaby tour, to New Zealand, and despite the one-sided nature of the Test series, Fay and his fellow locking partners Reg Smith and Barry Stumbles toiled tirelessly in the tight. Surprisingly, Fay is often remembered for his drop-kicking prowess which came to the fore in the first Test against Tonga in 1973 when, trapped in traffic, he casually knocked over a fine left-foot dropped goal.
The 1974 Bledisloe Cup series was something of a turning point given the lopsided nature of the contests just two seasons earlier. The Australian forwards prospered from some much-needed grunt and Fay featured well in all three Tests. Australia’s forward play earned further credibility with the two home victories over England in 1975.
The Sixth Wallabies tour was a pinnacle of Fay’s playing career. He made a huge contribution on the field, played in 15 matches, which included four of the five Tests.
As a senior international Fay was highly regarded and his selection as captain of the World XV in the centenary celebrations for the Cardiff Rugby Club in 1977 was well deserved.
Fay returned to New Zealand in 1978 where his experience proved invaluable, particularly in the record third Test victory at Eden Park. That win was Fay’s first in his nine Tests against the All Blacks.
Garrick Fay played 24 Tests for Australia in a nine-year international career.
Fay won his first Test cap at lock in partnership with Owen Butler in the 6-14 loss to South Africa in Brisbane.
Fay started at lock in all three Bledisloe Cup Tests, the 1st and the 3rd in combination with Reg Smith and the 2nd Test alongside Barry Stumbles.
Fay locked with Stu Gregory in all four Wallaby Tests against Tonga (2), Wales and England
Fay teamed up with Roger Davis in each of the three home Tests against New Zealand.
He earned three caps, all at lock in partnership with Reg Smith, in the two home wins against England and the 1st Test, 37-7 defeat of Japan at the S.C.G. Fay scored his first Test try in the 30-21, 2nd Test victory over England in Brisbane.
Fay and Smith combined in four of the five Tests played on the Sixth Wallabies tour to Britain and North America. He missed the 6-23 loss to England at Twickenham due to a pulled hamstring and was replaced by David Hillhouse.
The Wallabies did not play a Test match in 1977.
Fay and Hillhouse were the locks for the two home wins against the Five Nations champions Wales. He played in all three away Tests against New Zealand alongside Peter McLean.
In his final season of international rugby Fay and McLean paired in the 12-27, 1st Test loss to Ireland in Brisbane.