Irving William Leonard Ormiston
- 157Wallaby Number
Irv Ormiston was a country player, born at Cowra, who attended Shore School in Sydney. Shore has been an invaluable nursery for rugby union, producing such internationals as Al Baxter, Greg Burrow, Brian Cox, Owen Crossman, David Dix, Garrick Fay, Michael Hawker, John Holdsworth, Mac Hughes, Francis Hutchinson, ‘Joe’ Kraefft, Andy Laurie, Mick Mathers, Tony Miller, Ned Morey, Alistair Murdoch, Cecil Murnin, Dudley Suttor, Phil Waugh and Bruce Wells. After school he played for North-West. Irv Ormiston was in World War 1 with the rank of Lieutenant. When the conflict ended in 1918, up to 250,000 Australian soldiers were waiting to be shipped back home.
The military decided to begin non-military programs to keep the troops interested, There was the Inter-Allied Games, nations competing in baseball, basketball, boxing, football ( American, rugby and soccer), quoits, setting up drill, tennis, track and field athletics, volleyball, wrestling, tug-of-war, cageball, ‘informal games’, walking trips, golf and swimming. There was also the King’s Cup in rugby. King George V gave a cup for competition among nations represented in the allied armies. Some 16 matches were played by the Imperial Army (called the ‘Mother Country’), Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Royal Air Force and South Africa. The Australian manager was Major Wally Mathews, who would occupy that role with the 1933 Wallabies to South Africa. The AIF side won 12 of its 16 matches, New Zealand beating the Mother Country in the final.
It was decided that the AIF team would tour Australia, and eight matches were played. As competition in rugby union had ceased during the war, the AIF squad did do much to revive interest, though Queensland did not resume competition until 1929. Lt. Irv Ormiston was in actuality not in the first AIF team, but was a reserve The captain of the team was Lt. Willie Watson, later to become a Major. Pollard described Ormiston in Australian Players as “a powerful red-headed man of fiery disposition whose unbounded energy delighted spectators and his captain Billy Watson.” Pollard described him as a prop, in our opinion he was a flanker, and stated he was a frequent scorer, but this does not hold up as he did not score in Australia, and was not considered as a first fifteen AIF player. Ormiston, a flanker, did not play in the first two matches, against NSW and Australia, but was selected with many of the reserve players to go up against New England at Armidale.
It was an easy 36 to 11 victory. He missed the next match against Queensland, but played the Queensland AIF and the North-West Union. In 1920 New Zealand came to Australia, again to revive interest, and played all of their seven matches in NSW. Irv Ormiston was in the first match, playing for NSW ( since 1986 these have been granted Test status), the shining light being Tom Lawton, a Queenslander then studying at Sydney University. Ormiston, who was playing for North-West, was also in the second and third NSW games. Thus Ormiston is now credited with three Tests, and his representative career flourished and ended in 1920.