Thomas Paul Mooney
- 405Wallaby Number
The Mooney family made a considerable contribution to Queensland rugby union. Paul’s father Tom Mooney played two games in 1919 and his uncle Vince earned five caps that same year. Vince also represented ‘Australia’ against the brilliant AIF team of 1919. A diminutive hooker, almost by default, Mooney did more than his fair share of work in the tight and was tireless in the loose.
Born in Brisbane, Mooney attended Brisbane State High School where he played in the First Xl for cricket and the Third XV in rugby. He played his club rugby for Eastern Districts but would bide his time for representative honours due to the presence of incumbent Wallaby hooker Nev Cottrell. Mooney’s break came in 1953 when he toured Ceylon with a goodwill, non-representative ‘Australian XV’ team.
The following year, with Cottrell retired, Mooney was chosen to make his debut for Queensland when they handed a depleted New South Wales side their largest interstate defeat in 23 years. Mooney won the scrums 2-1 against John Bain and was rewarded with a Test debut against Fiji in Brisbane. Australia won the match 22-19 and Mooney emerged victorious in the scrums by almost 3-1. The press of the day said that “only for his fine hooking Australia would not have won”.
In 1955, Mooney was selected for his first Wallaby tour, to New Zealand where he played in six of the thirteen matches but not the Tests as the selectors opted for the bulkier Jim Cross. While Mooney played for Queensland in 1956, Randwick’s Jim Brown had emerged and went on to play nine consecutive Tests through to the end of 1958.
Later in life Mooney was honoured with a Life Membership of the Queensland Rugby Union.
In 2006, Mooney was awarded Medal of the Order of Australia for ‘service to sport, particularly as a contributor to the development of junior cricket and Rugby Union football in Queensland.’ When he passed later that year QRU President David Crombie said Mooney was “the driving force behind the establishment of the Queensland Junior Rugby Union” and ‘a leader in a group of dedicated workers who laid the foundations for the resurgence of rugby union in Australia.’
Paul Mooney was one who put much more into the game than he had received.
Mooney won his first Test cap at hooker alongside ‘Tiny’ Betts and Nick Shehadie in the 1st Test, 22-19 win over Fiji at the Exhibition Ground. Col Forbes returned from a gashed hand to start at tight head prop in combination with Mooney and Shehadie in the 2nd Test, 16-18 loss at the S.C.G.