Owen Fairclough Edwards

PositionHalfback
Date Of Birth14 June 1941
Place Of BirthBrisbane
SchoolAnglican Church of England Grammar School, Brisbane
Debut ClubGPS (Brisbane)
ProvinceQLD
Died6 January 2021

Biography

Owen Edwards was a powerful running half-back with a long and accurate bullet pass who would have played many more times for Australia had it not been for the presence of the great Ken Catchpole. 

Born and raised in Brisbane, Edwards attended Anglican Church of England Grammar School. At one point considered too small to play rugby, Edwards silenced such criticism by going on to play two years - the second as GPS premiership winners - in the 1st XV (1958-59) He also coxed the 1st VIII in the 1957 Queensland schoolboys’ Head of the River. 

After graduation, Edwards played his club rugby for GPS where he came under the tutelage of future Wallaby coach Bob Templeton. Templeton's influence clearly helped Edwards’ game to prosper given the youngster 
debuted for Queensland, against New South Wales, early in the 1961 season. Two hefty losses were not the ideal way to begin his interstate career however Edwards then partnered 1955 Wallaby Barry Wright in the tour match against Fiji, three days before the first of three scheduled Tests. Although the Fijians emerged with a 13-9 victory, the match was tightly contested, and Edwards’ prospects were enhanced by his side’s strong performance. 

Although George Evans was chosen as the half-back reserve for the first two Fijian internationals, Edwards came into the squad at Evans’ expense for the third Test in Melbourne. Few who saw the match realised that Edwards had come as close as any other uncapped Wallaby to winning a Test cap. Early in the first half Catchpole burst a blood vessel on his left thigh but passed it off as a slight injury. Consequently, Edwards sat unused on the bench for the full 80 minutes. Later that night the blood “welled out” to cause a block in Catchpole’s thigh and he collapsed at a social function. The injury was feared to be so serious that there was some talk Catchpole may require an operation. 

Given Catchpole was the incumbent Wallaby captain, and a short tour to South Africa was imminent, the injury attracted much interest in rugby circles. Despite those early surgery fears Catchpole was eventually confirmed as captain for the tour and in a ‘surprise’ selection Edwards - one of just two Queenslanders - edged Evans to be the number two half-back. With just six matches included in the tour schedule, including two Tests, Edwards earned his Australian debut in the opening fixture against South-West Africa.

Upon his return to Australia, Edwards played for Queensland in their 12-15 loss to France however Evans was then surprisingly given the nod as Catchpole’s back-up for the one-off Test. Later that same year Edwards, alongside David Clark and Paul Perrin, was part of the GPS first-grade side that defeated University of Queensland 19-13 to win the Hospital Cup. Edwards continued to represent Queensland through the 1962-63 seasons before a four-year absence ahead of his final state game, the 6-12 loss to New South Wales in 1967. 

Edwards played his final club game in 1969 before he followed in his father’s footsteps to become involve in the game’s administration. Having earlier served on the GPS Executive (1962-63), Edwards became a GPS selector (1970-72 and 1983-85). 


Highlights

1961
Edwards played two matches on the Wallaby tour to South Africa - vs. South-West Africa at Windhoek (D-14-14) and vs. Border at East London (W 17-9)

 
Owen Fairclough Edwards