Geoffrey Richards

  • 3Caps
  • 599Wallaby Number
  • 70Age
PositionFullback
Date Of Birth29 April 1951
Place Of BirthHornchurch, Essex, England
SchoolWanstead County High School, Essex, U.K. & Frome Grammar School, Frome, Somerset, U.K.
Debut ClubEastern Suburbs (Sydney)
Other ClubsWasps (ENG)
ProvinceN/A (NSW 1979-81)
Debut Test Match1978 Wallabies v New Zealand, 2nd Test Christchurch
Final Test Match1981 Wallabies v France, 1st Test Brisbane

Biography

Geoff Richards was an English-born fullback who played in one of the Wallabies’ greatest ever victories. A former England trialist, Richards was a splendid positional player with excellent speed and sound judgement under the high ball. He was noted for his booming left foot touch-finders, strong forays into the backline, sound defence and flair for the counter attack.

Richards was educated at the Wanstead High School in Essex, captained the 1st XV and went on to play for Eastern Counties Secondary Schools before he won a cap for the England Schools against Scotland Schools at Gloucester in 1970. Richards went close to winning a full England cap in 1974-75 when he played first for the England U23s against the North (but broke his jaw which put him on the sidelines for a few weeks) and then as the “England” full-back in the final trial at Twickenham against The Rest. At the end of the season, he went on the Barbarians’ Easter Tour to South Wales and was officially on standby for England’s May-June Test tour to Australia.

In 1977 Richards emigrated to Australia and taught at The Cranbrook School in Sydney’s east. He played his rugby with the Eastern Suburbs club from where he then represented Sydney against the Australian Barbarians in 1978.

When the Wallaby squad to tour New Zealand was announced Roger Gould and Laurie Monaghan were the fullbacks. However, when Monaghan broke a collarbone against Mid-Canterbury the selectors called Richards into the tour. With Gould out of action with an injured hamstring, Richards made his Test debut in the 2nd Test in Christchurch.

Two weeks later he started at fullback in the memorable 3rd Test at Eden Park. On the back of four tries by Greg Cornelsen and in one of the great upsets of the all-time, Australia rolled the All Blacks by a record 30-16.

Richards announced his retirement from representative rugby in 1979 however after he kicked a late 40 metre penalty goal that bounced off the crossbar to give Sydney a 16-14 win over France in 1981 he was summoned to Brisbane to replace the injured Gould in the first Test at Ballymore.

Despite playing well in windy conditions and particularly after kicking yet another match-winning penalty, this time from more than 40 meters and wide-out, he was not selected for the second Test, with Mark Ella picked at fly half and Paul McLean shifted to No.15.

After his playing career ended Richards became heavily involved in coaching - Australian Schools, Australian U17s, U21s, Australia ‘A’ and head coach of England’s Women’s team.

Highlights

1978

Richards won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Paul McLean at fullback in the 6-22, 2nd Test loss to New Zealand at Lancaster Park. He made his run-on XV debut in the No.15 jersey two weeks later in the 30-16, 3rd Test victory in Auckland.

1979

Captained and coached Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.

1980

Captained and coached Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.

1981

Richards won his third and final cap as the starting fullback in the 1st Test, 17-15 win against France in Sydney.

Geoffrey Richards