Patrick Joseph ‘Paddy’ Knapp
Paddy Knapp was a dogged and consistent back-row forward who came within a whisker of winning a Test debut when selected as a reserve for Australia in 1961.
A Queenslander through and through, Knapp played his first rugby at Marist College, Ashgrove. In 1955, he was picked in the College 1st XV but then left school at the end of Year 10.
Two years later Knapp joined the Brothers club where he started in second grade. The following season Knapp made his ‘A’ grade debut and from that time until retirement, he only showed in the top grade.
His promise evident, Knapp earned aged representation in 1960 when chosen for the Queensland U21 touring side that ventured south to play Hawkesbury College, Duntroon Military College and New South Wales Colts.
In 1961, Knapp won his way through to the state side when chosen in Queensland’s match day squad for the opening interstate match of the season. A 12-33 loss at the Exhibition Ground saw six personnel changes - one of which was Knapp in at No.8 for Trevor Lovell - and two positional moves for the second fixture three days later. Despite being on the end of another heavy defeat (L 0-29), Knapp held his place for the third clash in Sydney. Early in June, Queensland - with Knapp shifted to open side flanker - faced Fiji in the seventh match of their tour just three days ahead of the first Test. Although the home side went down 9-13 Knapp clearly caught the eye of the selectors for his name was included in the Australian squad for the opening international in Brisbane.
The team assembled at the Hotel Daniel and then endured two “torrid training sessions” at the Brisbane Grammar School Oval under coach Bill McLaughlin. The day before the match all 19 players went to the Sidney Riley studio for a team photo. As they entered Riley’s each player was handed an Australian kit in which to change. At the completion of the photo a team gopher rather unkindly took the jersey, shorts, and socks from the reserves. Inconsiderately the reserves never saw their kit again. Equally as thoughtless, and in direct contrast to the Fijians, was the complete failure to name the reserves in the match programme.
Australia, led by the youthful debutante Ken Catchpole, scored six tries to none in the 24-6 victory before Rob Heming’s inclusion in the run-on side for the second Test in Sydney saw John O’Gorman (who had started at No.8 in Brisbane) moved to the reserves at Knapp’s expense. At the end of that season, and aged just 22, Knapp retired from rugby to further his employment opportunities.
Knapp was named alongside Bob Potter, Don McDeed and George Evans as a reserve for the first Test against Fiji at the Exhibition Ground.