Terence Neil "Tiny" Betts
- 385Wallaby Number
‘Tiny’ Betts was a tough-as teak prop forward who corner-stoned the Queensland scrum for the best part of a decade. Born and bred in Brisbane, Betts attended St Laurence’s Christian Brothers College and played rugby league. After school Betts had a season in grade football with Brothers before he then linked up with other St Laurence’s old boys who formed the West End Rugby Club. It was there that Betts struck a wonderful partnership with Nev Cottrell under the guidance of retired Wallaby hooker Eddie Bonis. The two front rowers benefited greatly from Bonis’ tutelage whose knowledge of scrummaging was ‘phenomenal’. Bonis encouraged the pair to work in the gym and to practice scrummaging at the weekends. After West End won the Brisbane C Grade competition in 1947, the club amalgamated with YMCA to form Southern Districts.
In 1948, Betts made his Queensland debut against New South Wales. State training was a little different back then - “We didn’t have a scrum machine back then,” Betts recalled. “We used to pack against the fence in the Exhibition number 2 ground. I used to get underneath the fence and try to lift it up. The following season Betts delivered strong performances against the Maori and NSW to earn selection on the Australian tour of New Zealand. Betts was the back-up to frontline props, Jack Baxter and Bevan Wilson, where he gained much from the experience despite not winning a first cap. Finally, in 1951, and after he was Queensland's outstanding player against the All Blacks at Toowoomba, Betts made his Test debut against New Zealand in Sydney.
The following year Betts married, took out a mortgage and bought a house. Due to those commitments he made himself unavailable for the Wallaby tours of New Zealand in 1952 and South Africa in 1953 and it seemed his international career was over before he received a final recall when Fiji returned to Australia in 1954. A year later Betts surpassed the Queensland record for appearances held by Eddie Bonis and in 1958 he captained Souths to the premiership title. “This was the happiest day of my life,” Betts proclaimed. “I didn’t think we’d ever win. Playing for Australia was great but it couldn’t beat this win.” ‘Tiny’ Betts played three Test for Australia in a five-year, two season international career.
Betts won his first Test cap at tighthead prop in the 2nd Test, 11-17 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G. He was omitted for the third Test as the return of Con Primmer at lock saw Nick Shehadie shifted back into the front row. However, Betts was then recalled after Jack Baxter withdrew due to a shin injury that he had picked up in the second Test.
Betts earned a final Test cap against Fiji in Brisbane when selected to replace incumbent front row forward Col Forbes who was forced to withdraw due to a gashed right hand sustained in Brisbane’s match against the tourists.