George Arthur Pearson
Victoria was replete with rugby talent in the thirties and forties, many of them, like Dave Cowper and Max Carpenter, coming from NSW, while players like ‘Bill’ Hammon having their early training in New Zealand, others such as Owen Bridle being educated in the UK and Gordon Sturtridge from Brisbane. ‘Weary’ Dunlop was the first player born in Victoria who played for Australia.
George Pearson was a hard-tackling prop who forced his way into the 1939 touring team by a superb performance in the final trial. His debut for Victoria was in 1937 against the touring South Africans. South Africa trounced Victoria 45 to 11, but there were many fine players who stood up against the ‘Boks, such as Rudi Dorr, Max Carpenter, Bill Hammon, ‘Weary’ Dunlop, ‘Moey’ Blundell, Cliff Lang, Stan Bisset and Andy Barr. This was his only representative match, the New Zealand team of 1938 not including Victoria in its itinerary. So everything rested on the final trial, and after it a record four Wallabies were selected from Victoria: George Pearson, Stan Bisset, Andy Barr and Max Carpenter.
Pearson went by ship to England for the tour of a lifetime, only to find out soon after they landed that war had been declared. The players filled out sandbags and practiced with gas masks until a ship was arranged to take them home. As many had not played for their country, a ‘scratch’ match was held against a Ceylon XV so the players could always say they played for their country.
Pearson’s record reads one match for Australia, and no Tests.
Born in Richmond, Victoria, in 1916, he spent his early years in Healesville, Chiltern and Hume Weir. He played Australian Rules at Glenroy Primary School and Essendon High School. When he went to Melbourne University he lived at Ridley College, and when he was unable to get a game in the Rules team he switched to rugby. He found his handling and kicking skills useful in the new sport, and was soon in the Varsity team, and into inter-varsity rugby in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.
At the time of the trials he was 22-years-of-age, 85 kg and 177.5 cm. He must have really impressed the selectors despite his lack of international reputation. When one realises that the great Graham Cooke was not selected, one can only imagine that Pearson must have played the game of his life. He was a minister by profession.