- 22Wallaby Number
Tom Ward enjoyed one remarkable month in which he played all of his representative football and earned two caps – one for Queensland and one for Australia. These caps were each embroidered with “E 1899” to signify that he played for Queensland and Australia against the British touring team brought out in 1899 by the Reverend Mullineux. Prior to his meteoric rise, Ward played his football in the junior competition for the Gregorys – a team of Gregory Terrace old boys from St Joseph’s College. The Gregorys were Junior Premiers in 1897 and 1898 and included such players as Doug McLean, sire of the famous McLean clan and the Gaffney brothers – Frank and Tom. When Frank Gaffney became a Christian Brother, he took the name Brother Henry and was later the famous Brother Henry who was the amazingly successful coach at St Joseph’s College, Sydney.
Ward was a small, speedy winger who was unrelated to the 1899 Australian five-eighth Peter Ward, a recent arrival from New Zealand. In 1899, Tom Ward joined the City Club who played in red and black striped jerseys. For the opening interstate matches in Sydney that year, the Queensland selectors chose experienced wingers ‘Yunker’ Colton and Arthur Austin. However, after Queensland’s twin defeats in the south, Ward forced his way into the State side for the big match at the Exhibition Ground against Mullineaux’s British team. The match resulted in an historic victory for Queensland by 11 points to 3 and Ward retained his position for the clash with New South Wales the following Saturday.
At this time, professionalism was rife in Sydney and the clubs there would not release their internationals for the trip to Brisbane and, of the Sydney men in the first Test, only Peter Ward, Charlie Ellis and Hyam Marks made the trip. New South Wales won the first match but Queensland turned the table a week later and Tom Ward scored a try in Queensland’s win by 12 points to 3. Just three weeks after his debut against the British side, Ward was playing for Australia in the second Test match. A few weeks in the hot Queensland sunshine following rain -drenched Sydney saw the British team find form and score a convincing 11-0 win in the Test match.
Ward was not retained for the following Tests in Sydney and his representative football ended almost as quickly as it began. In 1900, Ward continued with the City club but the advent of star Sydney three-quarters, Lonnie Spragg and Jack Hindmarsh, saw Ward miss City’s premiership winning team and the little winger dropped out of rugby. Tom Ward’s family kept his two caps for a hundred years before selling them to a sporting memorabilia collector for a modest sum.