Richard James Pickett Marks
- 483Wallaby Number
Dick Marks was a fast, tactically astute and versatile centre who dominated the Australian midfield in the mid-1960s. One of Australia’s youngest Wallabies, Marks was also a ferocious tackler and a hard, straight runner with the ability to break the line. Born in Bundaberg, Marks was a brilliant student and sportsman at Brisbane Grammar School. He spent four years in the First XI and two in the First XV.
After school he played his club rugby for the University of Queensland and was selected for the inaugural Queensland U19 team in 1961.
The following year New South Wales refused to play Queensland, citing the fact that Maroons’ standard was not high enough and as a consequence Marks made his representative debut against the touring All Blacks. Queensland lost 5-15 as the youthful Marks scored their sole try and impressed the national selectors. Marks was then left stunned when told he had been selected to make his Test debut in Sydney.
On his first night in the city Marks went to his aunt’s home and ate some local Chinese dishes. The fallout from that meal was a debilitating dose of diarrhoea, so much so that he withdrew from his first Test. Fortunately for Marks he was then chosen for a first Wallaby tour, to New Zealand. Marks started well but in the second match pulled a hamstring and missed the following four games, including the first Test. Recovered, Marks next fixture was his Test debut, just two days after his twentieth birthday, against the All Blacks in Dunedin.
From that debut match Marks played in 17 of the Wallabies’ next 20 Tests through to the Ireland tour of Australia in 1967. Marks had three major highlights in his career. The first was the extraordinary drawn series against South Africa in 1963. Second was the 23-11 demolition of England at Twickenham in 1967, one that manager Bill McLaughlin said, ‘was the sort of performance a rugby team dreams about.’ Third, was the 20-5 victory over New Zealand in 1964, the largest home losing margin in All Black history.
On the Fifth Wallabies tour of 1966/67, Marks was honoured with the captaincy for the uncapped match against South West France in Bordeaux. In his post-playing career, Marks was the first Rothman’s Rugby Coaching Director, a national innovation which did much to elevate the standard of players and coaches in Australia to where it is today.
Dick Marks played 17 Tests for Australia in a six-year international career.
Marks won his first Test cap in the centres alongside Beres Ellwood in the 0-3, 2nd Test loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook. That centre pairing was retained for the 3rd Test, 8-16 loss at Eden Park.
Marks played outside Peter Jones in the 18-9 victory over England at the Sydney Sports Ground. He then missed the opening Test against South Africa in Pretoria due to a hamstring injury but returned on the wing for the 9-5, 2nd Test win in Cape Town. He was shifted back to the centres for the 3rd Test, 11-9 victory at Ellis Park and remained there for the 4th Test, 6-22 loss at Port Elizabeth.
Marks partnered Bob Honan in the first two Tests against New Zealand but was joined by Beres Ellwood for the 20-5, 3rd Test win at Athletic Park. He scored his first Test try in the 9-14, 1st Test loss at Carisbrook.
Marks and Ellwood paired in both home Test wins against South Africa.
Marks combined with John Brass in all five Tests of the Fifth Wallabies tour against Wales, Scotland, England Ireland and France.
Marks played his final international outside Brass in the 5-11 loss to Ireland at the S.C.G.