Robert George Bouffler
- 25Wallaby Number
Bob Bouffler was a country forward who was a foundation member of the Orange Waratahs in the Central West of NSW. His first match against a touring team was for Central-Western districts against New Zealand, the locals going down by 3 to 27. Maybe the rugby was not all that it should have been , but there were other attractions , as Howell, et al, reported in They Came to Conquer: “Exposed to country hospitality, the New Zealanders had a pleasant stay in town. The local rugby committee greeted them on the Tuesday team and on Wednesday they were taken on a kangaroo drive. Thursday morning was given over to the formal welcome from the mayor and town aldermen and the match took place that afternoon.” The 1899 season was of particular importance as four Tests , the first-ever for Australia, would be played on home soil.
Bouffler did not get an opportunity until Britain's fifteenth match, when he was selected for NSW. The locals lost 5 to 11, but were handicapped as NSW played a man short for half the game, Bill Galloway breaking his collarbone. Under the international rules at that time, there could be no replacements. When the third Test team was announced, Bouffler had made it. He and Roger Barton were the sole country players. The pitch was slippery and muddy, and it was a close loss, by 10 to 11. The Sydney Morning Herald summed up what would be Bouffler's sole Test for Australia: “Occasionally there were flashes of brilliance that raised the enthusiasm of the crowd, but generally speaking the play was confined to the forwards and in the centre of the ground, for the sides were about the same strength. At the conclusion of the match it was unanimously contended that the better team had won. After the Test, he was to go up against the British team once more, for NSW Western Districts , the locals losing by 0 to 19.
The country visits were looked forward to by the visitors. As Howell, et al, put it in They Came to Conquer: “Before the match, the teams were taken on a wallaby drive at a station owned by Mr. J.J.Sullivan at Rock Forest. An orphanage ball and a smoke concert were also put on for the visitors.” Bouffler was not picked for the final Test, so the single Test was the highlight of his career. He was a compositer by trade, as was Archibald Boyd, another Test player. Jack Pollard had this to say of Bouffler in Australian Rugby: “He played for or coached the Orange Waratahs until the club disbanded with the advent of League in the Orange district in the 1920s. “Bouffler was the second son of Robert Bouffler, an Orange district pioneer. His elder brother, Willie, was at one time Mayor of Orange, and two of his four sisters held the franchise for the bookstall in the foyer of Sydney's Hotel Australia for many years. None of the Boufflers were keen on League, arguing that sportsmanship suffered once footballers played for money, but Robert was prevailed on to join the executive of the Orange Rugby League at one time was sole selector for Orange League sides.
He renewed his association with Rugby when the amateur code in the district was revived. “Robert Boufflers daughter gave her father's State cap to her son , Leon Bowyer ,who played for NSW Country several times, and toured New Zealand and the southern States with a Country XV. Bowyer was a very useful loose forward as his grandfather Robert had been. The Australian team on 5 August 1899 at the SCG against Great Britain, Australia's first-ever Test series, was Wally Cobb, Lonnie Spragg, Frank Row (capt.), Syd Miller, Peter Ward, Iggy O'Donnell, Arch Boyd, Alf Colton, Roger Barton, Sine Boland, Patrick Carew, Walter Davis, Charlie Ellis, Bill Webb and Bob Bouffler. It was a 10 to 11 loss. Australia played the 2-3-2 scrum formation at the time, influenced by New Zealand. It is thought that Bouffler was in the front row of that formation.