John David Brockhoff
- 364Wallaby Number
David Brockhoff holds a unique place in Australian rugby history given he is the only person to win the Bledisloe Cup both as a player and as a coach. In 1949 ‘Brock’ toured to New Zealand with the first Wallaby side to win the Cup on foreign soil and 30 years later he coached the Wallabies to a stunning 12-6 win at the S.C.G. which reclaimed the trophy, rather ironically, for the first time since that 1949 tour. In each role ‘Brock’ offered raw enthusiasm, motivation, emotion and dedication to the task. He gave himself unsparingly to the game he loved and while he had his critics none could fault his commitment to the cause.
Born and bred in Sydney, Brock attended The Scots College where he starred as a flanker with remarkable speed in the open. He played three seasons of 1st XV rugby and in his final year (1946) won selection in the GPS 1st XV alongside fellow future Wallabies Brian Cox and Alan Cameron.
After graduation Brock enrolled in Science at the University of Sydney where he won rugby Blues for four consecutive years (1948-51). It was with Uni, under the tutelage of All Black #254 Harold Masters, that Brock’s tight play improved tremendously. His first big break came in 1949 when he starred for South (Harbour) in the trial against North before he won selection for the Australian Universities tour of New Zealand. While on that tour Brockhoff ‘was considered one of the best breakaways Australia has ever sent to the Dominion’.
After Australia lost the first Test to the Maori, Brock and Nev Emery were called home and both started in Brisbane. With that Test debut Brockhoff enjoyed the rare distinction of playing for his country before having represented his state. Rated as ‘easily the most improved Union player in Australia this season’ Brockhoff then returned to New Zealand with the Wallabies, ‘muzzled’ All Black fly half Ben Couch in both tests and won a Bledisloe Cup series. In 1950 Brockhoff rejected a £2,500 offer to play league with the Huddersfield Club in England and despite the lingering effects of a wrenched shoulder was still selected to play both home Tests against the Lions. Brockhoff was then just one of seven of the 18 Wallabies chosen for the Lions series to see his Test career extend beyond that season.
After nine playing years at Eastern Suburbs Brock turned his hand to coaching in 1963 with the club’s fourth grade side and duly won the premiership that year. He returned to University in 1967 and the following season led the students to the title. At a national level his two great triumphs came when he coached Australia to a home series victory over Wales, the reigning champions of Europe, in 1978 and to Bledisloe Cup glory in 1979.
Although he was heavily criticised for the overly robust play of his teams, particularly against England in 1975 (The Battle of Ballymore), Brock was the supreme motivator who played a vital role in the continuum towards professionalism in coaching ranks. In 2003 he was presented with the Joe French Award in recognition of his outstanding service to Australian rugby and in 2004 was made a Life Member of the Australian Rugby Union. In 2017 Brock was inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame.
Brockhoff won his first Test cap on the side of the scrum in combination with Col Windon and Pat Harvey in the 2nd Test, 8-8 draw with the Maori in Brisbane. Brockhoff and Windon were joined by Arthur Buchan at No.8 for the 3rd Test, 18-3 victory at the S.C.G., a match in which Brockhoff scored two tries. Windon and Brockhoff then partnered with Keith Cross in both away wins against New Zealand.
The back row of Brockhoff, Ian MacMillan and Cross started in both losses to the British Lions.
Queensland’s Arch Winning captained the Wallabies from flanker in the opening test of the home series against New Zealand but then broke his jaw playing against the tourists playing for an Australian XV in Melbourne. Brockhoff came into the back row with Windon and Cross for the final two Tests of the series. Although the 3rd Test against New Zealand was his final international Brockhoff did tour with the Wallabies to South Africa in 1953 however ‘Mac’ Hughes and Cross were the flankers in each of the four Tests.