Herbert Richmond Gilbert
- 109Wallaby Number
Herb Gilbert was born in the NSW country town of Gulgong, but played all of his football, both union and league, in Sydney. A big, strong centre or winger, he played rugby for South Sydney in the metropolitan competition and was picked for NSW in June 1910 to play the NZ Maori at the SCG. He scored two tries on debut in a 27-13 victory and was subsequently chosen in the Australian team that played three Test matches in eight days against the All Blacks in Sydney. After losing the first Test 0-6, Gilbert scored two tries in the second Test two days later in Australia’s 11-0 victory, to this day, the only time the Wallabies have kept the All Blacks scoreless in a Test match.
Gilbert scored another try in the 13-28 loss in the deciding third Test. Gilbert toured Queensland with the NSW side in July, scoring two tries in the first match at the Exhibition Ground, won 11-3, and also playing in the return match a week later and against Toowoomba. To the chagrin of rugby officials, he defected to league the following season. He toured England with the 1911/12 Kangaroos after representing NSW against Queensland in the inter-State series, and was leading try-scorer for the tour. After accepting an offer to stay in England to play with Hull, he eventually returned to Australia in 1915 and became a groundsman at the SCG.
Gilbert played with Souths, Easts, Wests and St.George before retiring in 1921, but not before captaining Australia in two Tests against Great Britain in 1920, which saw the “Ashes” secured. After his football career, Gilbert worked for the NSW Railways for 36 years, but returned to the SCG to finish his working life as one of the dreaded “green coats” guarding the entrance to the player’s dressing rooms from the general public. Herb Gilbert passed away at Helensburgh, NSW, on January 3, 1972.