John Ferriter Pym
- 191Wallaby Number
John Pym made the 1921 New South Wales team that enjoyed a highly successful tour of New Zealand, where he was one of the busier three-quarters and a regular try-scorer. However, `Pup’ Raymond, who had not previously played on tour, displaced Pym for the one international – the tour’s ninth match – and left the Manly winger with half a dozen appearances in minor matches. Pym has subsequently been credited with a Test cap, as he was called into the State team for one match in the 1923 series with New Zealand Maori. Pym was too young to be called up during the First World War but was making a name on Sydney rugby fields shortly after it finished. His sole appearance against the 1920 All Blacks was for the State Second XV, which put up a good showing before going down 18-31, although the New Zealanders were not at their best in this particular match.
Pym was not used in either of the Metropolitan Union teams that year and could not win selection against the 1921 Springboks, but with ten three-quarters being chosen for the New Zealand tour he was fairly certain of his place well before the team was picked. When the team was chosen Pym would not have rated his chances of getting much field time, as `Slip’ Carr, Johnny Wallace and `Pup’ Raymond were established stars, but circumstances worked in his favour and he was one of the busiest backs in the party. As noted before Raymond took no part in the tour’s first four weeks, having sustained an injury before leaving Sydney.
Carr and Wallace also had a few niggles, so at least one wing berth was open in most matches and Pym took his chances in fine style. He was introduced for the third match, against Bay of Plenty, and marked his debut with two well-taken tries in a good display. His excellent speed – the team had plenty of speedsters but Pym was one of the fastest – was to the fore in match after match and his dangerous running was always a menace to opposing teams. He collected a try against Poverty Bay, played well against Wairarapa when coming on as a replacement and soundly against Marlborough before having his best week of the trip. Neither Buller nor West Coast was among New Zealand’s top unions but both could be relied upon to play a stirring, bustling type of game and both did manage to put the tourists off their stride for 40 minutes or so.
In the first match the home side led into the second spell but a neat dropped goal by Pym gave the Waratahs the lead for the first time and he quickly enhanced the scoreline with a fine try, his second of the match. New South Wales won 25-11 but were none too convincing and Pym’s effort was one of the better displays. Pym had a fine time at Greymouth, scoring two tries and setting up two others in a match where he was one of the most conspicuous figures but, surprisingly, his tour ended there. Raymond declared himself fit for the Test and was duly selected, while Wallace was also chosen despite recent knee problems.
As it happened Wallace did not see the match out, being replaced by Carr in a fine Waratah performance that saw the visitors win by 17-0, still the largest defeat New Zealand has suffered on home soil. Carr and Jackie Shute, making his only tour appearance, were on the wings against Wellington in the finale. Pym came home earmarked as one of the most promising players unearthed by this tour but his New South Wales career was a disappointment from that moment on. Despite a large number of wingers being tried in 1922, when both the New Zealand Maori team and the full All Black side toured, Pym was not chosen for any of the teams that opposed the New Zealanders.
He was given a chance against the 1923 Maori in the first Test but was upstaged by a replacement that day. Owen Crossman, who came on when Raymond was injured early in the match, proved to be the day’s star turn with two tries in his first international. With Raymond recovered for the second match, Crossman was retained and another new man, Allen Bowers, went to the bench. As fate would have it, Bowers also came on as a replacement and scored two tries, so in those brief moments Pym’s future chances of State selection were taken away by men who accepted a chance for what it was. Pym was unavailable for the 1923 New Zealand tour and was never chosen again. His career, which had shown so much promise, was all over when he was 24 years old.