Gregory Victor Davis
- 485Wallaby Number
The game of rugby in Australia owes much to New Zealand as constant tours by the All Blacks and Maori teams, and invitations for Australia to tour, did much to save the game when it was at a low ebb. Although Willie Watson had a considerable influence through his work with the AIF team reviving the game in post-war Australia it was Greg Davis who made the greatest contribution of all the New Zealanders to come to Australian shores. With his bald and distinctive head, Davis was a tough, uncompromising flanker. His devastating tackling proved a scourge to fly-halves worldwide.
Davis was a single-minded man who gave no quarter and asked for none. Whereas the great Col ‘Breeze’ Windon was all style, Davis was all effort. He was the supreme flanker. As a captain Davis was never overly voluble. He led from the front with a complete disregard for his own body. His complete commitment to everything he did on the field simply rubbed off on his teammates.
Born in Matamata, New Zealand, Davis played his rugby in the Thames Valley, Auckland and Bay of Plenty. In 1961 he was invited to the All Black trials.
Two years later he came to Australia, immediately joined the Drummoyne Club and within a handful of months debuted for Australia against England in Sydney. From that moment on Davis was a permanent selection for 10 seasons and played 39 of the Wallabies’ 40 Tests through to the end of the 1972 tour to New Zealand. He was at the core of some of Australia’s greatest ever victories - the two away wins against South Africa in 1963, the first time the Springboks had lost back-to-back Tests all century; the 20-5 defeat of New Zealand in 1964, the largest loss at home in All Black history; and the 2-0 home series win over South Africa in 1965.
In 1969 Davis became part of history when called upon to captain his adopted country. Aside from the 16 Test matches in which he captained the Wallabies, Davis led his country in 37 other matches. He captained Australia on the 1967 and 1972 tours to New Zealand, the 1968 tour to Ireland and Scotland, the 1969 tour to South Africa, and the 1971 tour to France and North America.
In all Greg Davis played a remarkable 99 matches for the Wallabies. If there was ever one man who deserved to reach a century of matches, it was Greg Davis. Tragically he returned to New Zealand where it was discovered that he had a tumour on the brain. He died in Rotorua aged just 39.
Davis won his first Test cap at flanker in combination with Ted Heinrich and John O’Gorman in the 18-9 victory over England at the Sydney Sports Ground. He scored his first Test try to become the 43rd Wallaby to score a try on debut. That same trio started the first Test against South Africa in Pretoria before Jules Guerassimoff replaced Heinrich for the final three matches of the series.
Davis and Guerassimoff were paired in all three Bledisloe Cup Tests against New Zealand. Dallas O’Neill played No.8 in the first two Tests while David Shepherd debuted in the third Test.
Shepherd, Davis and Guerassimoff were the back row for the 1st Test, 18-11 victory over South Africa at the S.C.G. Davis missed the 2nd Test, 12-8 win at Lang Park due to a knee injury.
Davis, Guerassimoff and Shepherd combined in both Tests in the home series against the British Lions.
Davis played all five Tests on the Fifth Wallabies tour. He partnered Gorman and Mick Purcell against both Wales and Scotland. Guerassimoff replaced Purcell for the final three internationals against England, Ireland and France.
Davis, O’Gorman and Hugh Rose formed the back row in the 5-11 loss to Ireland at the S.C.G. Jeff Sayle debuted on the flank and Rose shifted to No.8 for the 9-29 loss to New Zealand in Wellington.
Davis played all five Wallaby Tests against New Zealand (2), France, Ireland and Scotland in combination with David Taylor and Hugh Rose.
Davis started all five Tests as did Rose. Alan Skinner was the No.8 in the 16-19 loss to Wales in Sydney. On the tour to South Africa, Rose played No.8 in all four Tests and Davis was partnered on the flank by Peter Reilly in the first Test, Rod Kelleher in the two middle Tests and Barry McDonald in the fourth Test.
Davis, McDonald and Rose combined in Australia’s only international of the year, the 23-3 victory over Scotland at the S.C.G.
Davis played alongside Peter Sullivan and Bob McLean in all five Tests, against South Africa (3) and France (2).
Davis and Sullivan were joined by Dick Cocks at No.8 for the two Test home series against France. Davis earned his final three caps in the three Test away series against New Zealand.