Ronald John Walden
- 292Wallaby Number
Ron Walden was a country born, hard as nails forward who achieved the rare distinction of winning the Bledisloe Cup both as a player and a manager. Born in the north-western New South Wales town of Quambone, Walden was a determined, hardworking lock, equally at home in the front-row, who became one of Manly’s greatest ever clubmen. After playing in Manly’s junior competition Walden graduated to grade football in 1927 and a year later made his first grade debut.
In 1931 Walden became the amateur heavyweight boxing champion of New South Wales however a representative rugby jersey remained elusive. His opportunity finally arrived in 1933 when he debuted against Victoria, an honour that was said to be ‘richly deserved’ given his consistent club performances. The following season Walden was selected as a reserve for the two home Tests against New Zealand however he was called in for his Test debut when ‘Weary’ Dunlop withdrew from the Sydney match with influenza.
Australia did not play a single Test match in 1935 and as such the 1936 tour to New Zealand took on even greater importance. Early in the season Walden played his 100th first grade game for Manly and was later named as vice-captain, under Queensland’s ‘Dooney’ Hayes for the tour. Walden played in all ten matches and, after Hayes finally succumbed to a rib injury, was promoted to captain for each of the three Tests. In 1937 Walden was seen as a certainty to represent against South Africa however he dislocated his left wrist and broke two bones in the same hand as he tackled Cyril Towers in the final Possibles v. Probables trial match ahead of the Tests.
His season over, Walden announced his retirement from rugby. In later years he coached Manly, became a selector for New South Wales and in 1949 managed the Wallabies in New Zealand when they became the first Australian side to secure the Bledisloe Cup on foreign side. A career policeman, Superintendent Walden received a great deal of notoriety in 1960 as Chief of the C.I.B. when he led the famous kidnapping case of eight-year old Sydney boy Graeme Thorne.
Walden won his first Test cap at lock, paired with ‘Bimbo’ White, in the 2nd Test, 3-3 draw with New Zealand at the S.C.G.
The Wallabies did not play a Test match in 1935.
Walden, as the 29th player to captain Australia in a Test match, started at prop alongside Eddie Bonis and ‘Steak’ Malone in the two away losses to New Zealand. He played his final Test in the middle row, with White, in the 31-6 victory over the Maori at Palmerston North.