Llewellyn John Evans

  • 3Caps
  • 35Wallaby Number
PositionFlyhalf
Date Of Birth18 February 1881
Place Of BirthBrisbane
SchoolBrisbane Grammar School
Other ClubsCity (Brisbane)
ProvinceQLD
Died10 August 1966
Debut Test Match1903 Wallabies v New Zealand, Sydney
Final Test Match1904 Wallabies v Great Britain, 3rd Test Sydney

Biography

Lew Evans was the younger brother of the famous ‘Poley’ Evans. Slight in stature, Lew lacked the robust physique of his brother but developed silken skills that allowed him to glide through gaps where Poley would take on the opposition. Also, unlike Poley who was a try scoring individualist, Lew was a consummate passer of the ball who distributed well to his three-quarters. He was also a useful cricketer who was 12th man for Queensland in March 1902.

Born on 19 February 1881, Evans entered the Brisbane Grammar School in 1895 and graduated to senior rugby in 1900 with the City club where his contemporaries included Lonnie Spragg, Tom Ward, Jack Hindmarsh, Paddy Carew, Alex Henry and Doeey Tanner. This team of talents easily won the premiership that year. Next season, the QRU introduced electorate football and this mighty team was broken up and Evans found himself playing with Toombul-Nundah who boasted the three Colton brothers – Ginger, Yunker and Tom. The latter two had been suspended for 12 months after a fracas in the 1899 when playing for Milduras.

In 1900, Evans played the first of his 21 matches for Queensland when he paired with Austin Gralton in the halves with Alex Henry at inside centre. Queensland was narrowly beaten in Sydney but turned the tables emphatically in Brisbane winning both games 8-0 and 20-0. The following year, New South Wales won the first three matches but Queensland avoided a clean sweep in the final match. The Exhibition Ground was awash after heavy rain but the home players made light of it and ran in four tries in winning 15-6. With a touch of class, Evans scored the last try with a burst down the touchline from a scrum to step around McNamara to score in the corner. When the All Blacks arrived in 1903, Evans was ready for Test football and he had Austin Gralton as his halfback for the only Test at Sydney. Although the Australians lost, they could point to a lack of combination against an extremely talented All Black team.

When ‘Darkie’ Bedell-Sivright’s 1904 British team arrived in Australia, spectators marvelled at the brilliance of the famous Welsh backs – Tommy Vile, Percy Bush, Rhys Gabe, Teddy Morgan and Willie Llewellyn as the team overran New South Wales. Paired with the famous ‘Snowy’ Baker, Evans was one of seven Queenslanders in the Australian team that did rather well in the first Test until they lost barnstorming winger Charlie White and had to play one man down for the last three-quarters of the game. When the tourists played the first of two matches against Queensland, Mickey Dore partnered Evans in a match which saw Queensland beaten 24-0.

Evans was rested for Brisbane’s midweek clash with the British but then was astonished to find that he had been moved to scrumhalf for Queensland’s return fixture. North Brisbane’s ‘Pluck’ Pearce, a workmanlike five-eighth was chosen and Dore was omitted. Nevertheless, the home side did rather well to lead 3-0 at halftime, and were somewhat unlucky to lose by 18 points to 7. Unluckily for Evans, the positional switch spoiled his chance to retain his Test spot he was replaced by Sydney University’s Jack Manning for the second Test match in Brisbane. Once again, the Australians lost a player through injury (Alec Burdon) and the match. So Evans was reinstated for the third Test match in Sydney where the visitors made it a clean sweep. When New South Wales arrived late in the season to complete the interstate series, there was an air of anti-climax. Evans was unavailable for the first match and King Renwick played his only game for Queensland. Evans returned for the return game and it proved to be his last for Queensland. In his 21 matches for Queensland, Evans scored four tries and he played in three Test matches. Although he played in three Test matches (all in Sydney), by a strange quirk of the Queensland selectors, Lew Evans was deprived of a Test match before his home supporters.

Lew Evans lived and played in the shadow of his more famous older brother William (Poley) Evans. Like his brother he played as a fly-half/five-eighth but began his rugby as a halfback. He has been described by Pollard as an “exceptional [ball] handler, with rare acceleration”. He was considered a consistent player who ignited many a stunning backline play in all the grades of rugby he played. Lew was described by Ian Diehm as a “very light, clever five-eight and snappy line kicker who had begun his rugby as a halfback. When he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force Llewellyn then aged 35 was 5 feet 9 ½ inches and weighed 10st 10lbs. His chest measured out at 35.37 inches, of a dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair, religion Methodist. Lew was to be later described by Jack Davis in a game against NSW (1903) in The Referee as the most dangerous attacking player on the field.

Born on the 19th of February 1881 in Brisbane, he was one of four surviving children born to John and Mary Ann (nee Blackwell) Evans. His father, John a Welsh-born engineer, started in 1875 the shipbuilding and locomotive firm Evans, Anderson and Phelan in the Kangaroo Point area. Lew, like his brother William, attended Brisbane Grammar School. He started at Brisbane Grammar School in the year 1895, and was made captain of the football team the following year in 1896 at the tender age of fifteen. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Lew represented both Queensland and Australia, captaining Queensland on two occasions. He developed his ‘grass-roots-game’ in the Brisbane city club, and later for Toombul-Nundah. Lew is part of D. B. Ryan’s (1932) Fifty years of football: Queensland Rugby Union jubilee, 1882-1932 book.

Lew was part of Queensland’s ‘Gallery of Great Players” having played for Queensland (1900-1904) against New South Wales on 17 occasions, Great Britain on two occasions, and New Zealand on two occasions. Lew (Wallaby No. 35) played in three international Test matches, one against New Zealand on the 15th of August 1903, in Sydney of which Australia lost 22-3. The second two Tests were also played in Sydney against Great Britain on the 2nd and 30th of July 1904, the results were 0-17, 0-16, respectively, to Great Britain. Notably, Australia only scored one try in all three Tests played in that series against Great Britain. On the 24th of August 1914, Llewellyn John Evans an insurance underwriter for State Insurance aged 33 yrs 6 months signed up for His Majesty’s Australian Imperial Force.

He joined as a Lance Corporal, of A Company, 2nd Battalion (Reg; No. 40), 1st Infantry Expeditionary Force. Llewellyn, like many other brave Australians and New Zealanders, fought at Gallipoli. On the 6th of August 1915 Lew was shot twice, the first entered the upper aspect of his right arm some 2 ½ inches above the elbow. It exited on the outer aspect over the external condyle, resulting in damage (reported to have severed) to the median nerve, causing pain, loss of sensation and power of the area. His second gunshot wound was to the right ankle, the bullet entered just below internal malleolus, the bullet left on the outer side of the foot just above the insertion of the Achilles tendon. Although shot twice on the 6th of August, he was not admitted to general hospital (Ghezireh, Cairo) until the 12th of August.

It was decided that is wounds had caused partial paralysis of the right arm and damage to the left ankle joint, rendering him unfit for active service; his wounds were considered to be a ‘permanent disability’ and were further hampered by his ‘intemperance’, ‘misconduct’, and ‘alcoholism’. He was discharged some 15 days later on the 27th of August upon which he was placed on the transport ship H.M.A.T “Euripides” which left for Australia, from Egypt on the 29th of August, 1915. Llewellyn Evans was awarded the 1914/15 STAR (ref; No. 2683), the British War Medal (ref; No.2725) and the Victory Medal (ref; No. 2733). Lew was granted a full war pension, and was discharged from the army on the 28/1/1916 in Sydney. On the 21/12/1918 Llewellyn Evans married Catherine Ethal Nordon. His exact death date remains unknown.

Llewellyn John Evans