Harry Evers Bryant
- 208Wallaby Number
Harry Bryant was a hard working, tireless forward whose international career both began and ended at the tender age of just 19.
Born and raised in Sydney, Bryant was educated at Newington College where he played two seasons in the 1st XV (1922-23), the second as captain, and twice represented the Combined GPS 1stXV (1922-23). Bryant also rowed in the 1st VIII (1923) and that same year was a member of the senior Athletics team.
After school he joined the Western Suburbs club as a recruit of ‘weight and pace’ who ‘tackles like a demon’. Despite only having played five first grade matches Bryant’s form caught the eye of the selectors who named him in the trials ahead of the inbound tour by New Zealand. Although he won a spot in the final trial, for Combined City against Combined Country, University’s Roy Hoskins was the preferred No.8 during the Test series. Later that same season Bryant was deemed the ‘outstanding’ player for Wests when they lost the grand final 10-19 to University.
A year later Bryant was again in the mix when chosen for the NSW 2nd XV v NSW 1st XV trial however his rival, ex-Joey's star Jack Ford, was chosen for the first of three home Tests against the All Blacks. Unfortunately Ford withdrew at the eleventh hour after an attack of tonsillitis, one that essentially ruled him out for the entire series, and Bryant came into the side as his replacement. Although he did not know it at the time that match was also Bryant’s 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). The joy of making his debut was short-lived as New South Wales were thumped 3-26 and then four days later a NSW 2nd XV stunned the visitors 18-16.
As a consequence of those two results one of the great selection culls of all-time saw 11 of the starting 2nd XV chosen for the second Test. Bryant wasn’t completely cast aside when named as a reserve for the second international before he returned to the run-on side for the final Test. Bryant then won selection on the return tour to New Zealand where he won ‘high praise for his dashing forward play’. Bryant played in eight of the 11 tour matches, including the one-off Test rout to an All Black side that included 14 of their 1924/25 ‘Invincibles’.
Bryant began the 1926 season in fine fettle before a fractured bone in his hand forced him to spell for five weeks just as his prospects for state selection were considered to be ‘so bright’. The regrettable injury was a ‘severe blow’ to the state aside and he was ‘sadly missed’ in the Tests. In 1927 the sole focus of the rugby community fell upon the Waratahs’ end-of-season tour to the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, and for reasons not known, Bryant made himself unavailable for selection and as such he was not picked for any of the tour’s major trials. He continued to show for Wests and was a member of their 1929 premiership winning side after which he stepped away from the game for business reasons.
Harry Bryant played three Tests for Australia in a one-year international career.
Bryant won his first Test cap at No.8 in the 1st Test, 3-26 defeat to New Zealand at the Sydney Showground. He picked up a second cap, again at No.8 in the 3rd Test, 3-11 loss. Bryant added a third cap, this time in the middle row, in the 10-36 beating at Eden Park.