Roderick Paul Batterham
- 507Wallaby Number
Rod Batterham was a prolific try-scoring winger whose talents deserved far greater recognition from the national selectors. With speed to burn and as an outstanding goal-kicker, Batterham played just two Tests, the first at the tender age of 19, yet was selected on four Wallaby tours. Born in Sydney and educated at North Sydney Technical High School, Batterham played his first club rugby at Gordon. In 1967 his good early season form won him a place in his first representative side, for Sydney in their crushing 30-8defeat of Ireland. Batterham then made his debut for New South Wales against Victoria where he scored two tries in the 19-0 win.
He then started in each of the three matches against Queensland scoring all 12 points (1T, 3PG) in the first game and 11 points(1T, 1C, 2PG) in the third. Those two performances, in what were essentially Wallaby trials, earned Batterham a Test debut in Wellington to celebrate the 75th Jubilee of the New Zealand Union. Australia lost the match 9-29 but played the best part of 60 minutes with 14 fit men as Phil Smith had dislocated his shoulder in the first half. Aside from the loss, Batterham enjoyed a memorable match. He scored all nine Australian points (2T, 1C) and became the first Wallaby since Ralph Garner in 1949 to score two tries on debut.
The first came after he regathered a cross-kick from fly half Phil Hawthorne. His second try was quite brilliant after Australia launched a superb counterattack from a drop-out. Batterham’s play caught the eye and gained favourable press reviews however he had to wait almost three years for a second cap. He won selection for the highly anticipated tour to South African in 1969 only to tear a thigh muscle in his second tour match, against Natal, and miss the next 13 matches. He fought back to put himself in contention for a spot in the 4th Test before he suffered a recurrence of the same injury against South-West Africa and his tour was over.
In 1970 Batterham scored a brace for New South Wales against Scotland and celebrated his recall to the Test side with yet another two tries. He played his final representative match in 1973, for Sydney against Tonga, and delivered a two-try performance in the 14-19 loss. Batterham capped a fine career when he captained Parramatta to their first-ever premiership victory in 1977.Rather deservedly his last-minute try sealed the game. After he retired Batterham became a respected coach.
Batterham won his first Test cap on the left wing with fellow debutants Ian Procter on the right wing and Queensland’s Russell Manning at fullback in the 9-29 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park. He scored his first Test tries to become the 44th Wallaby to score a try on debut.
Batterham earned his final cap on the left wing in the 23-3 victory over Scotland at the S.C.G.