Harold Vincent Herd
- 272Wallaby Number
Harold Herd was a fine attacking centre three-quarter who attained national honours during the Depression-era but walked away from the game in order to further his career. Herd was born in Coffs Harbour however his early rugby was played in Sydney, with North Manly, in the Manly club’s local juniors competition. Two premierships and selection in the Manly representative junior side that won the metropolitan championship preceded his elevation to the club’s senior side in 1929. Later that same season he was rewarded with a state debut for New South Wales in their 9-16 loss to Victoria in Melbourne.
The following year Herd did not play representative football however his patience and reliability were rewarded with a stroke of luck in 1931 when Eastern Suburbs’ Ben Egan withdrew from the New South Wales tour of Queensland. Herd came into the squad and seized his opportunity with both hands. His splendid play ‘merited selection in the strongest New South Wales XV’ and ultimately won him a spot on the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. When Dave Cowper was rested for the first time, in the tour’s sixth match against the Maori, Herd came in to partner Cyril Towers and Australia recorded its first victory. While Herd did not know it at the time, that match was actually his Test debut.
Although an uncapped fixture in 1931, the match was elevated to Test status by the ARU in 1994. Herd played in five of the tour’s ten matches and returned to Australia a batter player for the experience. The following year Herd did not play in the home series against New Zealand yet was considered ‘stiff’ when among a raft of players to be overlooked for the 1933 tour to South Africa. Herd then played a season of rugby league in Nowra and represented South Coast before he returned to Sydney in 1934 and linked up with Towers at Randwick.
His reinstatement to union approved, Herd proved himself ‘the greatest rugby union inside centre at present in Australia’ as the Towers-Herd combination earned rave reviews as the ‘finest the code has possessed since the war’. Unfortunately Herd, having regained his spot in the state side, gave up the opportunity to play against New Zealand and retired from union when he returned to Nowra in order to consolidate his accountancy practice on the South Coast. Herd played two more seasons of league in Nowra but returned to Manly in 1936. He did not play for the next three years but in 1940 was linked to Wests, enlisted and played a few games for the RAAF. Harold Herd played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #272.
Herd won his first Test cap at inside centre in the 14-3 victory over the Maori at Showgrounds Oval in Palmerston North.