Harold Athelstane Judd
- 37Wallaby Number
Harold Judd was a brick company employee who played for Randwick for a few years, then Newtown and St George. He has to be categorised as one of Australia’s greatest forwards in the early years of the twentieth century. He is often confused with the Judd who played for Australia twenty years later. Born in 1880, he was barely 19 -years-of-age when Great Britain came to Australia in 1899 and the first Tests were played, and he did not play against them.
His name first appears in 1901 when a NSW team toured New Zealand under captain Tom Costello. Not only was Judd a member, but his wife accompanied the team, a rarity in those days. Harold Judd was in the first match, against Wellington, which resulted in a 16 to 17 loss. It was a somewhat disastrous game, as the captain got concussion, the vice-captain Bill Shortland and Stan Wickham suffered gashes as a result of kicks, and the halfback from Glebe, V. Harris, fractured a bone in his shoulder and could not play again. Welcome to New Zealand! Judd was not picked for the second match against Southland, but was in all the other matches, against Otago (lost 0-5), Canterbury (lost 5-11), New Zealand (lost 3-20), Wanganui (won 9-8), and Auckland (lost 9-24). Against Canterbury, because of injuries, he played at fullback. Chester and McMillan in The Visitors stated:” Injuries and illnesses had hampered them and they were particularly affected by the loss of captain Costello.”
The vice-captain, Bill Shortland, died a few days after returning home from a kidney infection. In 1903 Judd came into his own. When the 1903 New Zealand team toured Australia, he was up against them in their very first match. Howell, et al, in They Came to Conquer, noted:” He was a tough, hard-working forward who never shirked in the tight but still maintained his mobility.” And for NSW in this first match, they noted :” NSW fought hard, especially in the forwards, and Judd, Burdon and O’Donnell stood out.” Judd was also in the return NSW match, narrowly won by New Zealand 3-0. Howell, et al, stated:” Judd, Alex Burdon and Jack O’Donnell carried on their good form from a week earlier.”
He was in the next match against the Metropolis, New Zealand slaughtering them by 33 to 3. When the only Test team of 1903 was announced, Harold Judd was on it, with Stan Wickham as captain. New Zealand were on a roll, and won easily 22 to 3. In 1904 Great Britain returned, this time captained by David Bedell-Sivright. Judd was not on the NSW team for the first encounter, but was in the return match, lost by NSW 6 to 29. He was also on the Metropolis team that lost 6-19. Playing brilliantly at times in this match, he was an automatic selection for the first Test at the SCG. It was a 17-0 win for Great Britain, the Australians being severely disadvantaged when Charlie White had to leave the field and had to play a man short.
After the second Test was played at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Judd was selected for his third Test. Once again Australia lost, 3-17, but once more an injury to Alex Burdon meant that Australia had to play a man short for a good part of the second half. A sensation occurred in the game when Britain’s Blair Swannell, who a few years later would play for Australia, flattened ‘Nimmo’ Walsh, and the Australian forwards retaliated. The forwards for Australia who shone were Judd, Walsh and Alex McKinnon. Back at the SCG, Britain played Australia again, and Judd was on the squad. It was another loss, 0-16. After this match Great Britain toured New Zealand for five matches, then returned to play just one more match in Australia, against NSW. Judd went up against them one more time, but the Blues lost 0-5. So the visitors won all their matches in Australia.
Early on in the 1905 season New Zealand came for three matches, two against NSW and one against the Metropolitan Union. Harold Judd was the captain in all three matches. The pity was that there were no Tests, as he undoubtedly would have captained his country. He was chaired from the field in the second NSW match, which was an exciting 8-all draw. Pandemonium reigned, and it was said that the cheering reportedly could be heard in Sydney’s outer suburbs, doubtless a slight exaggeration. After the second State game the first Australian national side ever to tour overseas was announced. They toured NZ later in the year. The captain was Stan Wickham, and Harold Judd was the vice-captain. Judd would play in six of the seven games, against Wellington-Wairarapa-Horowhenua, Marlborough-Nelson-Buller-West Coast, New Zealand, Manawatu-Hawkes Bay, Wanganui-Taranaki, and Auckland. It was a disappointing tour, Australia losing four games, including the Test. They improved as the tour progressed, winning the last three games. It was the first time a touring team had defeated Auckland.
In 1907 the cloud of professionalism hung over the rugby world, and a professional team from New Zealand, the All Golds, came to Australia and signed Dally Messenger, perhaps the finest player in Australia at the time. However the amateur NZ team also arrived in 1907, in fact before the All Golds, but Judd did not appear in any of the seven matches because of a severe injury. His representative career was over, except for excursions with NSW. In 1907, at the SCG, his career basically came to an end. It is described by Sean Fagan in The Rugby Rebellion:”At 3.15p.m., NSW captain Harold Judd led his team from the Members’ pavilion on to the SCG. A cold southerly wind was from the blowing under leaden clouds, but it wasn’t enough to put off a crowd of over 25,000. Queensland won the match 11-6, though the contest was marred by a serious injury to a player. “Early in the second half Judd followed up a kick with team-mate Bede Smith. As Smith made a dart to tackle a Queenslander his legs got entangled with one of Judd’s. There was an almighty ‘crack!’ that could be heard around the ground and everyone immediately gasped. Judd’s leg had completely snapped at the shin. The match was stopped while Judd received attention from the Civil Ambulance men. They called for assistance from a doctor, who came onto the field and he bandaged Judd’s leg. There was no stretcher at the SCG nor any leg-splints, and Judd was forced to ‘walk’ his way off under assistance. He was immediately conveyed to St Vincent’s Hospital.
Judd was in hospital from his ordeal for ‘some considerable duration’. He was visited regularly by team-mates and officials, especially from his St George club.” His injury, and that of Alex Burdon, and lack of any compensation, might have been a primary influence on Messenger turning professional, and many other players later. Judd played 27 times for NSW and 90 first grade games, 63 for Newtown and 27 for St George. Jack Pollard wrote in Australian Players: ”He was a tireless worker for Rugby in the Illawarra district of Sydney, honorary coach at public schools throughout the region, and Illawarra’s delegate to the NSW Rugby Union. He named one of his sons, and his house overlooking Cronulla, Rugby. He was patron of North Cronulla Surf Club, which formed the basis of the Port Hacking Rugby Club in 1962. In 1961 he presented the Judd Cup to the Sub-District Rugby Union, and the trophy has since inspired some colourful football.”