Richard Joseph Simpson

  • 1Caps
  • 136Wallaby Number
PositionFullback
Date Of Birth27 July 1889
Place Of BirthSydney
SchoolNot known
Debut ClubHarden-Murrumburrah
ProvinceN/A (NSW 1914)
Died30 December 1968
Debut Test Match1913 Wallabies v New Zealand, 2nd Test Dunedin

Biography

Dick Simpson had a short Wallaby career – he only played two matches out of the nine contested by the 1913 team in New Zealand – and was unfortunate that he was competing with Larry Dwyer for playing time. Dwyer was one of the best fullbacks of his era and Simpson was never going to oust the man from Orange in normal circumstances. Dwyer had been the State and national fullback since 1910 and was one of the first men chosen for any team he was available for, while the 28-year-old Simpson, who often played at centre for Souths, had not even cracked Metropolitan Union (the old name for Sydney teams) selection when he was chosen.

Even when Dwyer was injured just before the first Test Simpson was not risked – he had not played at that stage – and Queensland centre Michael McMahon got the Test job. Perhaps this was a blessing for Simpson, as the match was played in foul conditions against the top All Black side that was just about to leave for a tour of North America. The 1913 All Blacks were a brilliant combination whose class was obscured by the war; on tour they won all 16 matches, scoring 610 points to six and 156 tries to one! It was no real surprise that Australia, who had struggled through the early matches, could not hold the All Blacks in the Test and went under by 5-30. McMahon had a miserable time in the rain and wind, and was then given only one more match on tour. Simpson was promoted for the next match, against Southland.

Although the southerners were not the force they became immediately after the war, they still had established a proud record at home against touring teams and were keen to add the 1913 Wallabies to their bag. This they did, beating the visitors up front and having their backs take the chances on offer. Simpson had a hard day in a strong wind but came through it well enough to be selected for the second Test. The All Blacks had sailed for North America by this time and a completely new team was required for this match. The few old hands available to the New Zealand selectors played well and guided the new boys to a comfortable 25-13 win, although the match was closer than the score indicated and for a long spell only one point separated the teams. Simpson had a fine game at fullback, clearing and defending well while his goal-kicking was adequate, although he missed a couple of penalty attempts.

Picked out by all critics as one of the best backs on show, he was fated not to play another match for his country. Dwyer recovered from his injury in time to play the next match and led Australia in the Test – the rival fullbacks, Dwyer and Joe O’Leary, were respective captains in the only Test ever played where both leaders were fullbacks – and Simpson was not even given the post-Test match against a weak Marlborough team as a consolation. He did not play in any matches against the 1914 All Blacks and ended his big-time rugby career with that fine effort in the Dunedin Test.

Richard Joseph Simpson