Kevin Joseph Hodda
Kevin Hodda commenced his education at St Columban’s Christian Brothers College, passing Senior at just sixteen-and-a–half-years-of-age. Kevin, with the support of his parents, decided to repeat Senior at St Joseph’s Christian Brothers College, Gregory Terrace. The reason was given to allow Kevin to improve his score for University entry, but the hidden reason was Kevin’s passion to play First Fifteen Rugby in the Greater Public Schools’ competition. He succeeded on both counts, gaining top marks as a student and playing in the First Fifteen Rugby team alongside his future Wallaby team-mate, `Happy’ Jack’ McLean.
Graduating from College, Kevin entered the Queensland Government Railway Service as a clerk and commenced part-time University studies in Accountancy. Being in a protected industry exempted Kevin from military service. With interstate Rugby football `in mothballs’ for the duration, Queensland Rugby Union was determined to have a structure in place at war’s end. This proved to be a Herculean task with the drain on personnel and with only four clubs battling to keep the game alive. Kevin joined the Brothers Rugby Club in 1941 and with the `Prince of Hookers’ Eddie Bonis, still in the box seat, he elected to see out the next four seasons honing his skills and waiting for war’s end and the resurgence of interstate and Test rugby.
Eddie Bonis retired at the end of the 1945 season so ending a dominance throughout sixteen years of representative football. The door was now open. Kevin’s race for the coveted Queensland hooking position `hit a speed bump’ when Tom Dick was selected in the hooker spot for Brother’s first grade. Kevin’s bitter disappointment turned to hope when Tom was injured in the opening game of the season. Kevin was then alongside his future Wallaby team-mate, `Big Bob’ McMaster. Eddie Bonis was now a State selector and, fully aware of Hodda’s hooking skills, confidently selected him to continue Queensland’s dominance in this position.
Kevin’s brilliant performance in the interstate games cancelled out New South Wales hooker, Don Furness. This allowed Kevin to go on to become Australian hooker for the game against the Rest, which threw up another contender in Wal Dawson. Kevin Hodda was `on a roll’. With McMaster beside him, he turned in another tradesman-like performance to achieve his dream of being selected number one hooker for the 1946 Wallaby Tour of New Zealand. The tour opened full of promise.
Kevin was selected in the opening game of the tour against the strong North Auckland side at Whangarei. This proved to be a tough encounter. The Wallaby pack was starting to dominate the opposing pack when tragedy struck. Kevin went down awkwardly, damaging his knee, and had to be carried from the field. The leg was placed in plaster from the top of the leg to the ankle, this ended what should have been a triumphant tour for Kevin Hodda. The manager, Dr Ward, confident that Kevin would return to the field before the end of the tour, allowed him to remain with the team. Ironically the replacement hooker flown in was Don Furness.
A fit Kevin Hodda began the 1947 season full of renewed confidence, and this was bolstered with a convincing 28 – 25 win in the second interstate game of the season. Old foes were reappearing. First, Wal Dawson was in the first two interstate games. Clearly outplayed in the 28 – 25 win to Queensland, his position went to Ken Kearney. The return match in Sydney was won by New South Wales. Don Furness was touted as favourite for the first Test for Brisbane without playing in any of the interstate games, but Furness was not selected. Instead, in came another newcomer, New South Wales hooker Ken Kearney who, the New South Wales media said, was completely outplayed by Hodda in the return NSW game. Kevin Hodda was in the reserves. This ended his chances of touring with the 1947 – 48 Wallabies. The hooking positions went to Ken Kearney and Kevin’s understudy for the 1946 tour of New Zealand, Wal Dawson.
Little wonder Kevin Hodda the top rake became an unhappy hooker. Kevin played on till 1949. Retiring, he coached Brothers First Grade in 1950 – 51. His greatest contribution to Rugby was yet to come. Kevin’s successful Rugby career worked in tandem with his rise in the Queensland Railway where he rose to Chief Finance Accountant. His ability as financial adviser to the Queensland Rugby Union as treasurer and also the Queensland Rugby Club in later years was rewarded when he was made a Life Member of the Queensland Rugby Union. It was the same year as his mentor, Eddie Bonis.