Harold Ambrose Tolhurst
- 275Wallaby Number
Harry Tolhurst was a brilliant little country winger who became just the fourth Test capped Wallaby, after Bob Adamson (1912 & 1921), ‘Cocky’ Mayne (1929) and Roy Cooney (1923 & 1929), to also referee an Australian international match. Born in the north west of New South Wales at Brewarrina, Tolhurst was educated at St. Joseph’s School at nearby Nyngan. He began his rugby career as a junior with Drummoyne and graduated to their senior club, Glebe-Balmain, in 1929. The following year he transferred to Manly where it was said that his rugby 'advanced to a marked extent’.
Sound enough in defence, he handled cleverly, showed himself as a strong runner, and proved particularly hard to stop when near the line. By 1931 the scribes concluded that it 'would not surprise if the State selectors afforded him the opportunity of further development by including him in the representative team for Queensland.’ Tolhurst did win a debut against the northerners that season and celebrated with the Waratahs’ lone try in an 8-28 defeat. He was then one of nine three quarters used in the Australia v The Rest trials for the tour to New Zealand.
Notably only Tolhurst and Bryan Palmer acquitted themselves in defence, a crucial skill required in the Dominion, and as a consequence both were chosen, alongside Bill Hemingway, as the wingers for the tour. Tolhurst played in three of the ten tour matches however two of those three were Tests, including his debut against the Maori at Palmerston North. In 1932 Tolhurst was overlooked at national level despite the fact that Australia chose five wingers - ‘Dave’ Cowper, Bill White, Jack Steggall, Roy Lindsay and Hemingway - for the three match home series against New Zealand.
A year later ‘Jockey’ Kelaher and Doug McLean Jr., began their nine Test, four year partnership that effectively closed the door on Tolhurst’s representative career. He continued to show for Manly through to the end of the 1939 season before he called it a day and focussed on refereeing. In 1944 he took charge of his initial first grade match, between Easts and Gordon. Three years later he refereed his first match involving an international side as New Zealand humbled New South Wales 38-3 and in 1951 he controlled both Tests between Australia and New Zealand.
Tolhurst won his first Test cap on the right wing in the 14-3 victory over the Maori at Showgrounds Oval. He earned a second cap, again on the right wing, in the 13-20 loss to New Zealand at Eden Park.