Roland Lionel "Pup" Raymond
- 158Wallaby Number
“Pup” Raymond grew up in the Drummoyne area of Sydney and attended Sydney Grammar School. He enrolled in the 1st AIF in 1918. Upon discharge he entered Sydney University to study medicine and graduated in 1924. In 1920 his great physical strength, speed as a winger and footballing skills so impressed the NSW selectors that he was chosen to play in that year two matches against the first post-war All Blacks. He did so well that in 1921 he played two games against the first Springboks in Sydney, then one against the All Blacks in Christchurch. In 1922 there followed three matches in a series against the All Blacks at the Sydney Showground plus another three against the visiting Maori.
In 1921 the Maori were so popular that they were invited back and ‘Pup’ played another two Tests against them. But it was in the 1922 series against the All Blacks that provided the post-war Waratahs with their most significant success. The arrival of the All Blacks was marked by bad weather conditions, which suited the visitors nicely. In the first match against New South Wales (later to be granted Test status as were all international matches until 1929 when Queensland finally resumed playing Rugby after the disruption of the war years), the All Blacks were too strong in the second half. They knew all about soft tracks. NSW had led at halftime but were outplayed as the game progressed, losing 19 to 26.
The second match was played at the Agricultural Ground in Sydney before a crowd of 10,000. The Waratahs were looking more settled and they led 6-5 at the break. Raymond was making some fine openings with his powerful running and Larry Wogan was kicking shrewdly for position. A penalty try was awarded against the All Blacks to ‘Bot’ Stanley for obstruction on him (in today’s game, a penalty try can only be awarded to a team, not a player). This was the first penalty try awarded in Australian Tests. The Waratahs won the game 14-8 in a sound team performance. The third and final match was played two days later. The New South Wales team had the opportunity to create history.
The All Blacks scored first only for “Pup” Raymond to turn the tide with a crucial intercept. He raced ahead, punted and re-gathered to score with the crowd on their feet, sensing an upset. New South Wales then defended stoutly, to come home 8-6 and win the series. It was a high drama and New Zealand’s first-ever loss in an international series! The result showed that rugby talent was coming through in New South Wales despite the stranglehold enjoyed by rugby league, which had kept playing throughout the war. In those three years “Pup” Raymond established a unique reputation as a specialist in the intercept try, indicating a fine ability to ‘read’ the game.
In one Test he intercepted an All Black passing movement and ran the length of the field to score minus his shorts, which were ripped off in a desperate defensive tackle. In 1922, Raymond joined the Glebe-Balmain Club, later to change its name to Drummoyne, and become one of its life-long stalwarts. He spent his life introducing young people to the game, finally becoming the Drummoyne Club’s coach, then President and Patron. In 1924 “Pup” Raymond was chosen as the New South Wales Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University to take a postgraduate degree as an ophthalmic surgeon. In that first year of 1924 he won an Oxford Rugby “Blue” and was chosen on the wing for England.
Then followed a series of medical appointments in service units in India, Burma and North Africa. At the outbreak of World War 2, he was appointed to command the medical services of the British Eighth Army and in the Italian campaign had 60,000 troops in his care, for which he was awarded the Military OBE. In 1948 he returned to specialist practice in Australia and to coach his beloved Drummoyne Club. He passed away in 1964, an icon of the game. It is no accident that his photograph appears alongside that of another Australian great of another era, that of Trevor Allan, on the cover page of the official history of the New South Wales Rugby Union, 1874-2004, “Guardians of the Game.”