Keith Eric Gudsell
- 379Wallaby Number
Keith Gudsell was a stocky, talented, hard-running centre three-quarter whose international rugby career was limited by the calls of his professional life as a veterinary surgeon. While his time at the elite level was somewhat brief Gudsell holds the rare distinction of being an All Black (#500) before he also became Test capped Wallaby #379.
Born in Wanganui, Gudsell began his New Zealand career as a student at Massey University College, Palmerston North. Gudsell represented both Manawatu and New Zealand Universities (1945, 47) before he returned to Wanganui with the Technical College Old Boys.
The local representative side enjoyed one of its better seasons in 1948 - nine wins and a draw from 12 matches. As a result Gudsell found himself part of the exhaustive, season-long series of trials that were used to select and ultimately win him a place on the All Black team to tour South Africa in 1949. Unfortunately he was plagued by a persistent leg injury and only played six uncapped matches.
After Gudsell returned to New Zealand he moved across the Tasman to undertake postgraduate veterinary studies in Sydney that were not available at home. In 1951 he represented Australian Universities with distinction in its three-match ‘Test’ series with its New Zealand counterparts. In the third game Gudsell suffered a nasty fracture of the nasal sinus extending up to the forehead. The injury initially threatened to sideline him for the season and as a consequence he was overlooked for the New South Wales match against the All Blacks in which the tourists handed the locals a 3-24 thumping. With the opening Test just seven days away the selectors threw their faith behind Gudsell in the hope that he would solidify the midfield. Wearing specially designed headgear the former All Black made a Test debut against the country of his birth in Sydney.
The following season Gudsell suffered recurring headaches, believed linked to his facial injury, and was set to retire before he returned to play club rugby at University. In 1953, Gudsell was a controversial omission from the Wallaby tour to South Africa after Australian selectors claimed not to know that he was available to tour, despite evidence to the contrary, and therefore excluded him from the key trial matches. Gudsell took the decision on his chin, played exceptionally well for University and at the end of the season captained the side to premiership glory.
Once his studies were complete Gudsell returned to New Zealand and played one final season with Wanganui. He donated a ball signed by the 1949 All Blacks and Springboks to the Massey University RFC and the Keith Gudsell Trophy is now awarded annually to the club’s leading goalkicker.
Keith Gudsell played three Test for Australia in a one-year international career.
Gudsell won his first Test cap at index centre alongside John Solomon in the 1st Test 0-8 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G. The Gudsell/Solomon combination was retained for the second Test however handling issues and excessive kicking saw the selectors opt for a fresh centre pairing - Clarrie Davis and Murray Tate - in the final international. Davis then withdrew from the team due to his business commitments and Gudsell was recalled to the outside centre position. N.B. Solomon, who had been selected on the left wing, took ill with a stomach disorder and Davis was flown to Brisbane on the morning of the match as his emergency replacement.