Jack Harvey Hill
- 209Wallaby Number
Jack Hill was a hard-working lock forward whose representative career was ended after one of the most significant night-of-the-long-knives selection dramas in the history of Australian rugby.
Born and raised at Parkes, in the Central West region of New South Wales, Hill enrolled at the Woodford Academy, in outer Sydney’s Blue Mountains, which was run by the younger brother of (Major) James (W.F.) McManamey, a future President of the NSWRU. After Woodford, Hill passed his law matriculation exam and went on to work as an articled law clerk before he applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force in February 1916.
He embarked on the HMAT Anchises A68 as a Private in the 5th Reinforcements of the 45th Battalion. During the course of the Great War, Hill saw action at Villers-Brettoneux, Le Verguier and in the Battle of Hamel. Hill returned to Australia in April 1919 but did not show in the Sydney rugby competition until the 1922 season with North Sydney. During his time in the city he became a foundation member of the Manly Surf Club. A second season with North Sydney in 1923, the same year he was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, was followed by a switch to Manly in 1924. As a big, 14 stone youthful lock forward of ‘fine physique’ Hill was then said to be ‘a find’ of the 1925 season. The press of the day wrote that he ‘has developed on sound lines and has weight and pace.’ His early season form saw him named in the 2nd XV v. 1st XV trial ahead of the inbound tour by New Zealand.
In a review of that trial it was written that ‘he shaped splendidly in lineout work and in the loose, and is a good scrummager’. Unfortunately that performance saw him chosen for the 1st ‘Test’, unfortunate because the home side, with a fullback and a fly half picked in the centres, and with their reserve inside back required as a replacement right wing, were hammered 3-26. Although Hill did not know it at the time that match was his 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).
Four days after that first Test defeat a NSW 2nd XV stunned the tourists 18-16 and as a result one of the great selection culls of all-time saw 11 of the starting 2nd XV chosen for the second Test. Five of the first Test run-on XV, Hill included, never played ‘Test’ rugby again. He missed the return tour to New Zealand and early in 1926 left Sydney to take up practice as a solicitor in Lake Cargelligo, west of Forbes in the Central West region of NSW. Hill returned to Manly in 1939 and worked in the Crown Solicitor’s Office before leaving for Mudgee in 1943.
Jack Hill played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #209.
Hill won his first Test cap at lock in combination with Charlie Fox, in the 1st Test, 3-26 loss to New Zealand at the Sydney Showgrounds.