John Morris Taylor
- 178Wallaby Number
The deeds of John Morris Taylor, a Sydney University player who gained his Blue in 1922, are basically unchronicled. Ask any rugby aficionada, and it would be unusual if they had heard of him. The excellent Sense of Union,by Dr. Thomas Hickie, is slightly confused about him. He is correct in ascribing J.M.Taylor a Blue in 1922, but he is incorrect when he is not cited as an Australian representative in 1922. There was a Hugh Morris Taylor, presumably his brother with the same middle name, who played for University, gaining a Blue in 1923 and 1924 and cited as a international, yet elsewhere in the manuscript he is cited as H.C. Taylor.
Be that as it may , there was a John Morris Taylor at Sydney University who played at least in the year 1922, and he played for Australia. He was born in 1895 at Stanmore, and died in 1971. He therefore would not have known he was an international, as all matches played by NSW between 1919 and 1929, when Queensland resumed playing union and once more there was a national team, were given international status by the ARU in 1986. This included Maori games, which is highly debatable. There are three people who have been recognised as dual internationals in cricket and rugby: Otto Nothling, John Morris Taylor and Alan Walker.
It is interesting to compare their feats. Otto Nothling, who played with Taylor at Sydney University, was Queensland born. He played 33 times for Australia from 1921-24, including 19 Tests. As for his cricket, he is listed as Australian cricketer number 127. His first class debut was 1922-23, he played in 21 matches for 882 runs, his highest score 121, for a 24.50 average. He also got 36 first class wickets, for an average of 41.06, his best being 5 for 39. In the Test arena, he only played once for his country, scoring 52 runs, his highest score 44, for a 26.00 average. His main claim to fame was that the immortal Don Bradman was dropped only once, and it was Nothling who took his place in his one and only Test.
Then there is John Morris Taylor. He only played two times for Australia in rugby, but in the post-war period he is numbered Australian Test cricketer number 112, therefore gaining this status before Nothling (number 127). He played 135 first class matches and scored 6274 runs, his highest score was 180, for a 33.37 average. He took 68 catches, and one wicket for a 53.00 average. Essentially a right hand batsman, he was in 20 matches for Australia, including a tour to England, got 997 runs, his highest score was 108, for a 35.61 average. He took 11 catches, and got one wicket for a 45.00 average.
It is interesting to note the calibre of the 1921 team in England: captain, Herbie Collins, and such luminaries as Warren Bardsley, Charles Macartney, Warwick Armstrong, Jack Gregory, Bert Oldfield and Arthur Mailey. The third to be considered is Alan Walker. He played for Australia in cricket, but did not play a Test. He made one tour, to South Africa in 1949-50, but only played in the minor games. Mind you, there were some mighty players on that team. Lindsay Hassett was the captain, and there were such as Ian Johnson, Bill Johnston, Neil Harvey, Ray Lindwall, Col McCool, Keith Miller and Arthur Morris. In rugby union, he was on the 1947-48 tour, played 25 matches and five Tests.
What is for certain is that John Morris Taylor should be acknowledged more than he is at this moment in time. He was the most outstanding cricketer of the three, but his rugby record is the worst. There is little doubt that he minimised the rugby to protect himself from injury. Taylor had one big season, 1922, the year he got his Blue. The Maori visited in 1922, and he played against them in the first and second games (now given Test status), His contribution was major. In the first match, playing as a centre in a losing cause (22-25), he scored a try and kicked two conversions. Taylor’s Test debut was at the Royal Agricultural Society Ground on 24 June 1922.
The team was Otto Nothling, Arthur Mayne, Johnnie Taylor, Bot Stanley, Pup Raymond, Oney Humphreys, Arthur Walker (capt.), Darby Loudon, Joe Thorn, George McKay, Charlie Fox, Ray Elliott, Charlie Thompson (replaced by Duncan Fowles), Jock Blackwood and Tom Davis. Howell, et al ,in They Came To Conquer,wrote; “ Right on halftime Taylor created another try, lobbing a chip over the Maori backs, regaining possession and putting Ray Elliott clear. The second-rower gave a perfectly timed pass for Taylor to score an unconverted try...Among the home backs Raymond and Taylor stood out in attack.” In the second match (also now a Test), won by NSW 28 to 13, playing at five-eighth, he again scored a try, kicked a conversion and a penalty goal. Howell, et al , wrote:” Taylor, Raymond and Otto Nothling were outstanding for the enterprising Waratah backs, with Taylor having his second blinder, Despite all the praise heaped upon him, and the feeling that he had ‘won his spurs’, he did not play international rugby again. Who knows what might have happened if he had concentrated on rugby rather than cricket?