Ronald Gordon Stanley

  • 14Caps
  • 175Wallaby Number
PositionCentre
Date Of Birth25 December 1900
Place Of BirthBathurst, NSW
SchoolAll Saints' College, Bathurst
Debut ClubUniversity (Sydney)
ProvinceNSW
Died26 January 1961
Debut Test Match1921 Wallabies v New Zealand, Christchurch
Final Test Match1924 Wallabies v New Zealand, 3rd Test Sydney

Biography

Ron (‘Bot’) Stanley was a student at All Saints College, Bathurst, before going to Sydney University. Other internationals to come from this rugby nursery over the years were Roger Barton, John Maund (before going on to The Kings School), Henry Pigott, Francis Bede Smith and Lancelot Smith ( both later went to The Kings School), Scott Staniforth and Norm Street. While at All Saints he demonstrated his all-round athletic ability by winning trophies for rugby, cricket, tennis and golf. At Sydney University, where he went for medical studies, he received five rugby Blues, a rarity,,in 1920, 1921 1922, 1923 and 1924. Forgetting the 1893-99 players, for whom records do not exist, only H.B.Oxenham (7), Otto Nothling (7), L.J.Reynolds (6) and A.D.Fisher (6) have received more. It is equalled by M,F,Morton, R.Mackay, H.E.Masters, A.K.Kennedy, D.J. Kraefft, K.Elias, A. Erby, E.M.Fisher, V.S.Futter, C. Hammond and H.Hingst.

Considering the hundreds of Blues awarded, Stanley’s achievements have to be highly rated, particularly as he was enrolled in medicine. Stanley was only 5 foot 9 inches in height, but he was a solid 11 stone. He was considered one of the great attacking backs of his day, with tremendous acceleration, and was equally adept at wing or centre, but seemed to prefer centre. His first entry into international rugby (in 1986 all NSW games against another country, including the Maori, were cited as internationals by the ARU) was against the visiting Maori. In the minds of many Maori games should not be considered as internationals, and this is what the NZRU believes, but it became a fact in Australia. 

Stanley was in the first match against them, with fellow University backs Otto Nothling, Johnnie Taylor and ‘Pup’ Raymond, all outstanding athletes. NSW lost by 22 to 25. On the basis of his performance he was selected in the second NSW game, this time partnering Roy (‘Zed’) Cooney for his first and only international. Cooney would become an international referee in the future, and was a popular Official Visitor with the 1947-48 Wallabies. This time NSW was victorious by 28 to 13. In the third NSW game it was a thrilling encounter and a 22-23 loss for the Blues. Stanley took over the kicking duties and made three conversions.

The match was surprisingly played at Sydney University Oval. Howell ,et al, noted: “ Once again, many players shone in a bright, entertaining and vigorous match. Stanley had a good day with the boot.” That same year he was selected for the NSW tour to New Zealand, captained by ‘Wakka’ Walker. Johnny Wallace was on the team, as well as Australian sprint champion ‘Slip’ Carr, who would run in the 1924 Olympics. Stanley played centre in nine of the ten matches, including the one Test. He would score five tries and kick one conversion. Some references were made to Stanley in Chester and McMillan’s The Visitors:” The visitors’ final points [ against Waikato] came when Stanley made a clever opening before passing to Wogan, who had a run to the posts...[ against Bay of Plenty] The visiting backs all played well...[ against Wairarapa] Within a few minutes of the resumption Stanley scored and Mingay converted.

Weak tackling by the backs made the try a gift...[ against Marlborough] Stanley was in capital form, his two tries being fine efforts...The successes of the tour were Nothling, Wallace, Carr, Wogan, Stanley and Walker among the backs.” In 1922 New Zealand toured Australia, and ‘Bot’ Stanley was an automatic selection in the centre with Larry Wogan. It was a 19 to 26 loss. He kicked two penalty goals and a dropped goal. Stanley was in the return match, won by NSW 14 t0 8, and scored a penalty try, a conversion and three penalty goals. The penalty try was described by Howell, et al :”

The decisive score came when Larry Wogan placed a neat kick to the corner for Stanley and Smith to chase, only for Flannery to rule that Hickey had obstructed Stanley and a penalty try was awarded to the centre.” The third and final match was also won by NSW 8 to 6, thus NSW won a rare series against the All Blacks. Stanley kicked a conversion in the match in which all the NSW backs, Nothling, Norman Smith, Wogan, Sheehan and Walker, played well. The New Zealand Maori came to Australia in 1923, and though Billy Sheehan played instead of Stanley in the first match, ‘Bot’ was back for the second encounter, both of which NSW won.

Stanley kicked two conversions in the win. There was another match against NSW, Stanley pairing with Glebe-Balmain’s Peter Buchanan in the centre. It was another victory, 14 to 12. There was another NSW tour to New Zealand in 1923, and Stanley was an automatic choice.The captain was Sydney University’s Billy Sheehan, who was equally adept at five-eighth or centre. Nothling, Mingay, Davis, Thompson, Fowles and Elliott had been on the previous tour in 1921. Stanley again demonstrated his durability by taking part in eight of the ten tour games. Chester and McMillan in The Visitors had some of the following references to Stanley, who scored four tries, two conversions and a penalty goal on the tour:”[against NZ, first Test] Stanley showed that he had lost none of his dash...[third Test] Stanley and Nothling showed flashes of brilliance for the visitors.”

‘Bot’ Stanley returned to the fray when New Zealand toured Australia in 1924, and he was on the NSW side that beat the All Blacks in their first match by 20 to 16. Stanley scored a try and kicked a penalty goal. Howell, et al, in They Came To Conquer, stated: ”Many of those who had been badly missed a year earlier had big games, particularly Wogan and Fox, but the brightest star was Stanley. As well as scoring a brilliant try, he contained his dangerous opposite number well all day.” ‘Bot’ Stanley had an injury and did not appear for the third match, but did appear for the third match. New Zealand ran riot with a 38 to 8 victory.

Stanley scored a try in what would be his last international game. He left Australia to go to London Hospital for studies, and was highly successful in club rugby, before going to the West Indies. While there he captained the Trinidad team from 1930 to 1932. One of the great players of his time period, he finished with 14 Test caps and 13 non-Test matches. He scored 63 points in Tests, and 28 in non-Tests. He died without knowing he had played a Test, as it was in 1986 that the ARU ruled that NSW games from 1919 to 1929 against other countries could be classified as Tests. He was to pass away in 1961.

Ronald Gordon Stanley