Harold Francis Woods
- 226Wallaby Number
Harry Woods was a powerful, sturdy, honest and determined front-row forward who starred on the Waratahs grand 1927/28 tour of the northern hemisphere. Although somewhat light of weight Woods was ‘beautifully proportioned’ and remarkably agile, particularly for a prop. In ruck work and open play he was equally brilliant. A ‘glutton for hard work’ with a penchant for tackling opponents irrespective of their size Woods possessed a heart that was ‘well-padded with pluck and grit’.
Born in the West Australian gold town of Boulder, Woods was educated in Sydney, at St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill where he represented in rowing, rugby, cricket and athletics. After graduation he joined the YMCA club and made his first grade debut in 1923.
In June-July of 1925 New Zealand toured Australia however for the return series of August-September two of the props used in the local matches - Ernest Ritchie and ‘Snow’ Erby - were unavailable. As a consequence three untried front-rankers were selected - Woods, Bruce Judd and Len Palmer - alongside the 11-capped Tom Smith. Woods started in seven matches including the one-off ‘Test’ against New Zealand in Auckland. Although he did not know it at the time that match was Woods’ official Test debut after an ARU decision in 1994 elevated the remaining 34 New South Wales matches played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period to Test status (the five 1927/28 Waratahs internationals were given Test status in 1986).
Woods was said to be the ‘star forward’ and ‘one of the finds’ of the tour. New Zealand returned to Australia in 1926 however the genuine focus of the local game centred around the tour to England et al the following year. The press wrote that ‘only an accident can prevent him [Woods] from getting a place in the team for England’ and he was ‘perhaps the only certainty in the front row’. When it all came to pass Woods made the team and his employer Edwards Dunlop and Co Ltd. graciously agreed to continue his salary while away. Woods, together with Jock Blackwood and Bruce Judd formed a tremendous front three and together they started all four internationals against the Home Nations.
Woods, like 12 of his Waratahs’ brethren, was unavailable for the 1928 tour to New Zealand and the following season he was away in the country which allowed ‘Wild Bill’ Cerutti and Queensland’s Ted Thompson to enjoy the 3-0 sweep of the home series against the All Blacks. In 1930 he injured his ribs in the third interstate match with Queensland and as a result missed a shot at playing the British Lions. Woods then coached first grade at Easts before he moved to the Riverina district of New South Wales. Upon his return to Sydney he drew much enjoyment from coaching schoolboy rugby.
Harry Woods played eight Tests for Australia in a four-year international career.
Woods won his first Test cap at prop alongside Jock Blackwood and Tom Smith in the one-off, 10-36 loss to New Zealand at Eden Park.
Woods and Blackwood were joined by Bruce Judd for the opening three Tests of the home series against New Zealand. Woods injured a shoulder in the third match and missed the hastily arranged, eleventh hour fourth Test nine days later.
The Woods, Blackwood, Judd front-three started the first four Tests of the Waratahs tour, against Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Neither Woods nor Judd played in France which allowed Mal Blair and Jim Tancred to win caps in the 11-8 victory in Paris.