Reginald Hardwick ('Jim') Foote
- 206Wallaby Number
‘Jim’ Foote was a rugged, strong running winger of great pace whose international career fell victim to injury. Born and bred in the south-east Queensland city of Ipswich, Foote was educated at both Ipswich Grammar and The Southport School. After graduation he came to Sydney and enrolled in Dentistry at the University of Sydney. Foote first came to notice early in the 1924 season where he drew rave reviews as ‘the brilliant Varsity wing’, who shows as ‘a great sprinter’ with ‘real grit’ and ‘goes resolutely for the line’. Foote created such a strong impression that one commentator wrote ‘we have another international in the making’ and ‘it would surprise no one if he gained representative honours in his first year’. That prediction appeared prescient when Foote was chosen for the ‘Next XV’ in the final trial ahead of the inbound tour by New Zealand however the first Test spots went to Manly’s Norm Smith and Randwick’s ‘Stumpy’ Crossman.
Despite New South Wales’ stunning 20-16 win the local selectors made two changes for the second Test with Foote, following a solid mid-week showing for the Metropolitan XV against the tourists, brought in at Smith’s expense. Although Foote 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). Foote endured ‘a nervous start’ on debut but once settled ‘showed truer form and the team benefited’. Later that year Foote briefly attended Oxford University where he played for New College alongside fellow Wallabies ‘Pup’ Raymond and Johnnie Wallace. While Foote returned to Sydney the following season he did not play in the domestic matches against New Zealand yet managed to secure a place on the return tour to the Dominion.
In 1926 Foote remained very much in the mix for further honours when he was chosen in the 21-man squad to train for the approaching home series matches against the All Blacks. Unfortunately he injured a shoulder in the final trial against University and was unavailable for the opening Test however he returned to the side for the second international after ‘Sheik’ Bowers withdrew with a broken bone in his hand. The following year all the focus fell upon the Waratahs’ grand tour to the northern hemisphere and as such no incoming tours outside of combined New Zealand Universities side which visited for a three ‘Test’ series against the University of Sydney. Foote starred with three tries as University won the first fixture 31-12 after which one member of the press wrote [Foote] ‘strikes me, on Wednesday’s form, as equal as the best I have seen in Rugby Union football for some time.’
He is ‘the type of player needed in the team for England’. Rested for the second match, Foote returned for the third only for luck to desert him yet again when he injured his knee in the act of scoring a try just before half-time. As a consequence he was forced to declare himself unavailable for both the Waratahs’ trials, where Foote had been selected in the 2nd XV, and ultimately the tour proper. With study now his primary focus, Foote graduated with a Bachelor of Dentistry in 1930 and was then awarded a scholarship to the Northwestern University (Illinois, U.S.A.) to pursue a postgraduate course in Dentistry. ‘Jim’ Foote played three Tests for Australia in a three-year international career.
Foote won his first Test cap on the left wing in the 2nd Test, 5-21 defeat to New Zealand at the RAS Showgrounds. He retained his spot for the 3rd Test, 8-38 trouncing four days later.
Foote earned his final cap, again on the left wing, in the 2nd Test, 6-11 loss to New Zealand at the Sydney Showground. Foote’s ‘uncertain performance’ saw a returned-from-injury ‘Johnnie’ Wallace chosen on the left wing for the third Test and Foote selected as a reserve.