Percival Bruce Judd
- 225Wallaby Number
‘Blue’ Judd was a highly consistent, bustling, hard rucking front-row forward who anchored the Australian scrum during the great Waratahs tour of 1927/28. ‘Fiery of thatch and fiery in his play’, Judd revelled in the heavy work and received great acclaim for his efforts. Syd Malcolm called him ‘the best ruck forward in the game’ while 1932 All Black vice-captain Dick Steere said, “None of your forwards was a bigger nuisance to us than Judd. We didn’t mind when he was not selected for the (1932) Tests. Had we been picking your team we would have omitted him too.” Born in Sydney, Judd had strong rugby bloodlines as his Uncle Harold (Wallaby #37) played in Australia’s first ever Test against New Zealand.
‘Blue’ was educated at Newington College where he played two years in the 1st XV (1922-23) and rowed in the 1st VIII (1923). Away from school and rugby, Judd was also a champion surf-lifesaver with the Cronulla club. At 6ft (1.83m) and 13st 5lb (85kg) he had a solid build in an era when forwards were much smaller than they are in the 21st century however his innate toughness saw him avoid major injury through schedules that modern players would refuse to even contemplate let alone undertake. Judd was a young pup fresh in his first season of top grade football with Wests when chosen for New South Wales on their tour to New Zealand. Incumbent state captain Charlie Fox was unable to secure the extended leave required to undertake the trip and Judd came in as his replacement.
Not many 18-year-old props survive in New Zealand - although five of his six matches were played in the middle row - however Judd did just that and as such he quickly earned the respect of teammates and opponents alike. Remarkably Judd was chosen for the one-off ‘Test’ where he confronted one of the strongest All Black teams ever fielded at home. There were no fewer than 14 members of the 1924/25 ‘Invincibles’ on deck and the visitors were humbled 10-36. Although Judd did not know it at the time that match was his official Test debut after an ARU decision in 1994 elevated the remaining 34 New South Wales matches played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period to Test status (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals were given Test status in 1986).
In 1926 Judd moved across to Randwick and was one of only five players to be capped in all four home Tests against New Zealand. A year later Judd deservedly won a place on the Waratahs grand tour to the northern hemisphere where he proved to be one of the side’s iron men. Judd appeared in 24 of the 28 matches on the British leg of the tour (he did not play in France or North America) and he started each of the four Home Nations internationals. After eight months away Judd joined 12 of his fellow Waratahs who were unavailable for the 1928 tour to New Zealand.
In 1929 the Australian rugby landscape changed as the game resumed in Queensland and all of a sudden the national selectors had the ability to choose players from three states – New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. That development dramatically increased the level of competition for all places over the next few seasons. Nonetheless Judd was bracketed with Queensland’s Ted Thompson for the opening Test of that season against the All Blacks only to be omitted just a few days ahead of the match. Oddly he was not placed on the list of previously named reserves but still made the official team photo! Australia won 9-8 and went on to retain the same starting tight five for each match as New Zealand was swept 3-0.
In 1930 Judd was selected for NSW v. The Rest in the final trial for the Test against the British Lions however the incumbents deservedly retained their positions spots as the Wallabies enjoyed a famous 6-5 victory. With Thompson injured and Cerutti unavailable, Judd was chosen for the 1931 tour of New Zealand. He was one of just three players to start all 10 matches, including both Tests. Although overlooked for the 1932 home series against New Zealand Judd played for NSW v The Rest in the final trial for the following season’s tour to South Africa. To his disappointment Judd missed out and the press of the time considered him to be one of the tour’s ‘most prominent’ omissions. Judd played the last of his 58 matches for New South Wales in 1934 before he formally retired. He said in parting, ‘I am getting out while I am still whole’ after an enviable 10 seasons of representative rugby. Bruce Judd played 11 Tests for Australia in a seven-year international career.
Judd won his first Test cap at lock alongside Harry Bryant in the 10-36 loss to New Zealand at Eden Park.
He was capped at prop forward in the first two Tests of the home series that was lost 1-3 to New Zealand. When Jack Ford was a late withdrawal ahead of the third Test Judd was shifted to No.8 and Jim Tancred came is at prop. Judd returned to the front-row for the hastily arranged, eleventh hour 4th Test, 21-28 defeat.
Judd, Jock Blackwood and Harry Woods were the front-row for the first four Tests of the Waratahs tour, against Ireland (W 5-3), Wales (W 18-8), Scotland (L 8-10) and England (L 11-18).
He picked up his final two caps in the 14-3 win over the Maori at Showgrounds Oval and the 13-20 defeat to New Zealand in Auckland.