Paul George Southwell
Paul Southwell, a decorated schoolboy fly-half, clocked up many a mile in his journey to Wallaby gold. From his Canberra home, Southwell played club rugby in Goulburn, zone rugby in Wollongong, and rep rugby for New South Wales Country before his break into interstate football saw him travel to Sydney to both play and train with the Waratahs. Southwell’s sacrifice was rewarded when he earned selection for the 1982 Australian tour of New Zealand.
Born and bred in Canberra, the Southwell clan were steeped in the district’s traditions from the 1830s. A young Paul played his first rugby for the local Downer Primary School before he joined the Royals club in the U13s and from there built a storied representative CV. In 1974 he played for the New South Wales Combined High Schools’ 1st XV, the ACT U18s and captained NSW U18s. The following season Southwell played for ACT Schools when they lost the final of the Australian Schools’ carnival to QLD, made his first grade debut for Royals, represented ACT U20s and played for NSW Combined High Schools on their tour of Japan. Southwell rounded out the year in style when he was chosen for the Australian Schools tour to New Zealand alongside fellow future Wallabies Bruce Malouf, Chris Roche, and Steve Williams.
In 1976 Southwell graduated to senior representative football when he debuted for the ACT in their 12-28 loss to Fiji at Manuka Oval. That same year, Southwell moved to Goulburn to study teaching / physical education. He played his club rugby for Goulburn College of Advanced Education and for Southern Tablelands at the NSW Country level. Two years later Southwell broke through to earn his first Country cap, off the bench, against Wales in Cobar (L 0-33). The timing of the match could not have been any worse for the Cockatoos with the Five Nations champions smarting from their final-minutes loss to Sydney the previous weekend.
Southwell’s first chance for higher honours came in 1981 when he was chosen as a reserve for the trials ahead of the Seventh Wallabies tour to the U.K. Unlikely as it seemed with that selection, Southwell ended up on the wing - his first ever run in the position - for Australia vs. The Rest in the main trial where he opposed a young David Campese. Southwell scored a try in the 32-10 win however neither he nor Campo made the side with Brendan Moon, Peter Grigg and Mick Martin the three specialist wingers selected.
The following year Southwell made his state debut in the 43-21 victory over Waikato at Rugby Park however he was somewhat blessed to have not played in the interstate series won 2-0 by Queensland, including a 41-7 thumping at Ballymore. After Australia squared the home series with Scotland the Wallabies were scheduled to tour New Zealand for the first time since Greg Cornelsen’s four tries in the record-breaking 30-12 win at Eden Park. Selections for that tour were thrown into disarray when eight Queenslanders – including Mark Loane, Tony Shaw and Michael O’Connor - declared themselves “with the greatest regret and disappointment” unavailable. Coach Bob Dwyer, with far narrowed selection options, bit the bullet and chose 17 uncapped players in his 30-man squad. Southwell made his Australian debut - on the wing - in the opening fixture, the 16-15 win over Taranaki however when it came to the internationals Andrew Slack, Glen Ella and Gary Ella were preferred as the reserve three-quarters.
In 1983 Southwell moved to Brisbane to further his teaching career and he joined the University of Queensland club. Early that season Southwell made his state debut against Western Province on the tour of Fiji however upon returning to Australia his luck took a turn for the worse. Playing for UQ vs. Redcliffe, Southwell secured a charged down 22 drop out but was hit from behind. The tackle fractured his neck and badly dislocated his left shoulder. Those injuries sadly brought an end to Southwell’s rugby career.
Southwell started five matches on the Wallaby tour of New Zealand - vs. Taranaki at New Plymouth (W 16-15), vs. Southland at Invercargill (W 21-0), vs. Buller at Westport (W 65-10), vs. Bay of Plenty at Rotorua (L 16-40), and vs. North Auckland at Whangarei (W 16-12).