John Denison Campbell

  • 3Caps
  • 104Wallaby Number
Date Of BirthJuly 22, 1889
Place of BirthPenrith, NSW
SchoolNot known
Debut ClubEastern Suburbs (Sydney)
Debut Test Match1910 Wallabies v New Zealand, 1st Test Sydney
Final Test Match1910 Wallabies v New Zealand, 3rd Test Sydney
DiedAugust 30, 1966
Service NumberN468394, N388819


Dinny Campbell was a speedy centre who played all his representative rugby in one year. He played eight games for NSW and three Tests for Australia. Ward Prentice was his centre partner in all those games. Campbell had benefited from Harry Bosward’s coaching when playing for Wentworth Club in the City and Suburban competition and played with Bill McKell (later Sir William McKell, Governor-General of Australia), Herbie Collins (later the Australian cricket captain) and partnered Bob Adamson, international centre. When he joined Eastern Suburbs Club, his partner was Tom Millner (later Lieutenant-Colonial Thomas George Millner), who was also another team-mate from the Wentworth Club.

Millner had been one of the greatest benefactors and supporters of Eastwood Rugby Club and the home ground was named after him as TG Millner Field. Campbell was one of the heroes in Australia’s first win against New Zealand at the SCG in 1910. Australia lost the first Test narrowly 6 to nil. But in the second Test Australia was superior and dominant, winning 11 to nil. Campbell and Ward Prentice played a key role in setting up Herb Gilbert for two of Australia’s three tries. The result was a significant milestone in Australian rugby. It represented the first Test win over New Zealand in seven meetings and the first time they held an opponent scoreless. In 1911, Campbell defected to league and joined the Eastern Suburbs RL Club and secured the club’s first premiership, beating Glebe 11 to 8.

He also represented NSW in consecutive years before going to England at the end of the 1912 season to play for the Leeds Club. He scored 432 points in 258 games and Leeds gave him a benefit match in 1920. He returned to Sydney in 1921 and played a couple more seasons of league for Easts and Norths. As stated, Dinny Campbell broke through at the top level in 1910 when New Zealand toured Australia. He was selected in the centre for NSW game against the visitors. Playing then for the Eastern Suburbs club, others from that club were Norman Row, Ted Fahey and Harold George. It was an 8 to 10 loss. The rugby union code was suffering at the time through the incursions of the professional code. The greatest shock occurred the previous season, 1909, when 14 of the Wallabies defected for a total sum of one thousand pounds. Public interest had switched to the new code.

Fred Wood, Norm Row, Jimmy Clarken and Tom Griffin were the only ones in the NSW team who had faced the All Blacks before. Howell ,et al ,wrote in They Came to Conquer: “Dinny Campbell was the team flyer, a big, resolute wing who was hard to stop near the line. He later turned professional and played nine seasons with Leeds, before returning to Australia in 1921. He became a revered figure at Leeds and later in life acted as a talent scout for English clubs, sending several outstanding players to careers in Britain.” Campbell was also in the return match, scoring a try. Howell ,et al ,wrote: “NSW scored first when Dinny Campbell, who was their best back on the day, made a clean break and scored under the bar.”

Campbell, on the basis of his fine performances, was in the three Tests of the series against New Zealand. In his debut Test, the Australian team was Larry Dwyer, Herb Gilbert, Dinny Campbell, Ward Prentice, Alf Dunbar, Charlie Hodgens, Fred Wood, Norm Row, Syd Middleton (capt.), Brickey Farmer, Fred Timbury, Pat Murphy, Harold George, Tom Griffin and Jimmy Clarken. It was a loss 6 to 0. Australia won the second Test 11 to 0 and lost the third Test 13 to 28. Campbell played three Tests for Australia and eight games for NSW in 1910.

John Denison Campbell