George Herbert Geoffrey Wyld
- 161Wallaby Number
Rugby Union had ceased in NSW and Queensland out of respect for the troops overseas in World War 1 and the sacrifices being made, but rugby league continued its competitions. Hence after the War rugby had to be re-organised, and though it was successful in NSW it was not in Queensland. It was not until 1929 under ‘the Revivalists’ that Queensland took up the game again. So any matches played by NSW against touring teams are now counted as Australian representation. Many of those early players died without knowing that in future years they would be recognised as having represented their country.
Considerable credit has to be accorded the 1919 AIF team in reviving interest in the game as they played eight games throughout Australia, including three matches against ‘Australia’. These Australian games do not count as Tests. When the Great War ended on November 11 1918 up to 250 000 of the military had to wait their turn to be shipped back to Australia. In order to alleviate the problems of keeping such a large group reasonably happy, a system of non-military employment was introduced, as well as a program encompassing a wide range of sports. King George gave a Cup (the King’s Cup) for competition among nations represented in the allied armies.
The AIF Sports Control Board joined an Inter-Service and Dominion Services Rugby competition on 19 January 1919. The Imperial Army (called the ‘Mother Country’), Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Royal Air Force and South Africa fielded teams. The AIF had losses to the Royal Air Force and the Mother Country, though they had beaten the eventual winners, New Zealand, and New Zealand and the Mother Country contested the final. The AIF team came on to Australia to play matches, minus Jackie Beith, Dan Carroll and Darb Hickey. Beith stayed on in England for medical studies, Carroll went on to the USA to study and eventually settle, and Hickey went back to rugby league.
The AIF team, led by Willie Watson, revived interest in the game in Australia. The first tour after the War was by the 1920 New Zealand team. The first match was against NSW, and the visitors won by 26 to 15. Watson, who led the AIF team, captained the Blues. In their third match, a return one against NSW, Manly’s Geoff Wyld was selected, for his one and only Test. A lifesaver, and a big man as well, he was in the lock position with Charlie Fox. The team on July 31 1920 at the Sydney Sports Ground was Bruce Beith, Arthur Mayne, Larry Wogan, Clive Farquhar, ‘Pup’ Raymond’ Tom Lawton, Arthur Walker, George McKay, Viv Dunn, Irv Ormiston, Geoff Wyld, Charlie Fox, Willie Watson (capt.), John Bond and Tom Davis. New Zealand won the Test, as it was later recognised, by 14 to 6. Though he was not selected for the third NSW game, he was picked for the Metropolitan Union side, which lost 11 to 20. This was the end of his representative career.