Hugh Carlyle Taylor
- 199Wallaby Number
Hugh Taylor was one of the biggest forwards in one of the smallest packs ever to appear for New South Wales. Most of the forward units in the early 1920s contained a number of lightweight, wiry men but the 1923 team that visited New Zealand could only field a pack that averaged 12st 7lb (80kg) per man. Taylor, at 6ft (1.83m) and 13st 3lb (84kg), was taller than all bar two of his colleagues and heavier than anyone except Ted Thorn. It comes as no great surprise to learn that this small unit was pushed around the New Zealand fields by most of the provincial packs encountered and the All Blacks achieved total dominance in two of the three Tests.
Taylor’s first big match was for Metropolitan Union against the 1923 New Zealand Maori team. This contest was drawn 16-16 on a quagmire at Manly Oval and Taylor did well enough to win selection for the New Zealand tour although he, like his five University colleagues, was initially detained in Sydney at the university examiners’ behest. He joined the tour after two matches had been completed and was immediately picked for the first Test. The Waratahs scrummed well – Jock Blackwood had a field day against his opposite, Sam Gemmell, who was normally a loose forward – but lack of weight told in broken play. The All Black forwards clearly had the better of the tussle but the backs were average at best and the home side won 19-9. Southland was next to face the tourists and the home team, renowned for the quality of its forward play, took the match easily by 31-9.
That sorry tale was told again and again on tour, as the tourists were simply unable to win enough ball for the backs to do anything constructive. In the end a record of two wins and eight losses in 10 matches was about right. Taylor could not be faulted for effort – he played all eight matches after his arrival – but few of the tourists were able to show out consistently. He played twice against the 1924 All Blacks but his unhappy experiences against New Zealand continued, His first game, for Metropolitan Union, saw the All Blacks get their combinations right after a so-so first outing and they ran up a 38-5 win. Taylor was introduced to the State side for the third Test after Bond Bonner was dropped. The score in that match was almost identical to the Metropolitan game, as New Zealand played brilliant rugby and won 38-8. Taylor ended his career in big-time rugby after he graduated, as many of his contemporaries did, and concentrated on a business career in uncertain economic times.