James Leo Tancred
- 231Wallaby Number
Jim Tancred was one of the three ‘brilliant’ Tancred brothers, each of whom played Test rugby for Australia during the 1920s.
Born in Sydney but educated in New Zealand, Tancred played association football with his younger brother Arnold in the local North District Schools’ representative team and after graduation showed for Marist Old Boys RC Seniors in Wellington club rugby. A fine scrummaging, no-nonsense, mobile prop, Jim was said to be ‘surely the most honest forward’ and ‘always in the thick of the action”.
In 1925 Jim was a member of the Glebe-Balmain side that won the Sydney first grade premiership and the following season he broke into the representative scene. The press of the day wrote that Tancred started that season ‘with the skill that made his two brothers such notable figures’ and opined that he will be of great assistance to Blackwood’ following the ‘good work done in the front-row’ for his club. New Zealand arrived in Australia for a six-match tour that included three fixtures against New South Wales. Tancred was a reserve for each of the opening two matches before coming into the side for the third ‘Test’ in place of the injured Jack Ford (‘Blue’ Judd reverted to No.8).
Although he did not know it at the time that match was Tancred’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). In 1927 the entire season’s focus fell upon the impending Waratahs tour to the northern hemisphere. Arnold won selection in the No.2 Team for the trials however Jim had to be content with a spot in the No.3 Team. Nonetheless, to the joy of the entire Tancred family, both boys were named in the 29-man squad. Unfortunately, while Arnold started three Tests and Jim one, against France, the two brothers were not chosen to play side by side in any of the five internationals. The following year Jim dislocated his elbow in a club match against St. George and missed the subsequent tour to New Zealand.
In 1929 rugby had resumed in Queensland and all of a sudden the national selectors had the ability to choose players from three states – New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. That development dramatically increased the level of competition for all places over the next few seasons and although Tancred went within a whisker of a second test cap when chosen for the Waratahs v. The Rest in the key trial for the 1930 Test against the British Lions he did not make the side and his national career came to a close. In life after football the Tancreds became keen horse racing men. All three brothers were part owners of many good horses including the champion High Castle which won the 1939 Rosehill Guineas and the 1940 Epsom Handicap.
Jim Tancred played three Tests for Australia in a three-year international career.
Tancred won his first Test cap at prop in the 3rd Test, 0-14 loss to New Zealand at the Sydney Showground. He retained his place in the side, again at prop, for the hastily arranged 4th Test, 21-28 defeat in Sydney.
Tancred won his final cap at prop, in combination with Jock Blackwood and Malcolm Blair, in the 11-8 win over France in Paris.