Royden Stanford Chambers
- 149Wallaby Number
Roy Chambers made his debut for Queensland as a 20-year-old in the season before World War I broke out, missing the two big games against the touring All Blacks but playing the inter-state matches. Rugby players signed up en masse for active service and many did not see the war out but Chambers was more fortunate and had settled in Sydney by the time big-time rugby resumed in 1919. He appeared for his new State against Queensland (there were inter-state matches that year but the Queensland union was about to go into recess for the next decade) but again missed the main matches of the year, against the AIF team that made a tour round Australia after returning from the King’s Cup tournament.
New South Wales was not short of class centres in the war’s immediate aftermath, so it is a measure of Chambers’ ability that he was chosen for the first match of the 1920 series against a very powerful New Zealand team. Although the All Blacks swept the series there were moments in every match when they were under real pressure and perhaps the quality of the tourists – and therefore the home side as well – is shown by the results in minor matches. They beat Manning River District, admittedly no great power but the game was played on a flooded pitch, by 70-9, and then, in the last tour match, thrashed a strong-looking Metropolitan Union side that included Chambers and several other Test players by 79-5. Chambers had also been part of the Metropolitan team that had run New Zealand far closer earlier in the tour, when he played at five-eighth rather than centre.
The All Blacks returned home unbeaten and remained the only team to return undefeated from Australia for another 18 years. Chambers did not play against the 1921 Springboks but was selected as part of a very talented backline for the 1921 New Zealand tour. He only played two matches and was not chosen again after the fourth tour game despite being fit; the main centres were Larry Wogan and Bot Stanley and this combination featured in every subsequent match but one, while Oney Humphreys and Norm Mingay shared the five-eighth spot. Chambers was one of a number of players who got little game time; the side perhaps included too many midfielders for all to be given a chance and once the combinations were worked out there was an unbeaten record to think of, which was only lost in the last match after New Zealand had been beaten 17-0 in the only Test. This was Chambers’ farewell to big-time rugby, as he was getting on in relation to his peers and he bowed out of the game.
Chambers, who played for Manly once he shifted to Sydney, played four times for his country (so adjudged since 1986), two of them now being considered as Tests, and seven for NSW. His first Test was against New Zealand at the Sydney Sports Ground on 24 July 1920. The team on that day was Jackie Beith, Larry Wogan, Roland Raymond, Roy Chambers, Arthur Mayne, Tom Lawton, Arthur Walker, Bob Marrott, Viv Dunn, Irv Ormiston, Charlie Fox, Ray Elliott, Willie Watson,(capt.), John Bond and Tom Davis. He was the only player selected from Manly. Chambers’ daughter informed us that he was born in Dulwich, South Australia, on 1 August 1892 and died 5 November 1955. The family moved to Mackay, Queensland, and it was in the northern State where he developed his rugby. He represented Queensland in 1914. He worked for the English, Scottish and Australian Bank (now known as ANZ) and he was transferred to the Manly branch after WW1, hence his association with the Manly Club. He reportedly started and trained the first Aboriginal team.