Walter "Wally" Norman Ives
- 228Wallaby Number
Wal Ives was a big and lusty back-row forward who came to prominence when the All Blacks toured Australia in 1926. Predominantly a flanker and a more than handy goal-kicker, Ives came from good sporting stock as two elder brothers, Clarrie (North Sydney, New South Wales and Australia) and Bill (Glebe, Eastern Suburbs, St. George, New South Wales and Australasia), both played representative rugby league. Clarrie also represented a combined NSW and Queensland side, termed ‘Australia’ at rugby against the AIF (Australian Infantry Force) XV. Born and bred in Sydney, Ives was educated at Sydney Grammar School where he captained the 1st XV from centre in 1924.
After graduating Ives joined the Eastern Suburbs club in 1925 and made his first grade debut. Ives’ development continued apace the following season as he took to his forward work ‘with the air of a tried veteran’ and it was written that ‘he is now one of the Union’s best forwards.’ Other press commentary suggested he was ‘just the type required on a big tour and should be in the running when the NSW team voyages Home [to the U.K.] next season (1927/28)’. New Zealand soon arrived in Australia for a six match tour which included a three match series against New South Wales. Ives started all three state fixtures and although he did not know it at the time, the first of those three was his official Test debut after an ARU decision in 1994 elevated 34 New South Wales matches played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period to Test status (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals were given Test status in 1986).
The visitors surprisingly lost that opening encounter as Ives ‘gave the most outstanding performance’ at flanker and the presence of such forwards in opposition as the Brownlie brothers, Porter, Stewart, and Finlayson only further exalted his effort. In 1927 Ives was chosen for the No. 3 Team in the trials for selection on the grand Waratahs tour of the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately a brilliant performance from Ted Greatorex for the No.1 Team secured his own spot, ultimately at Ives’ expense, in the final 29-man squad. Disappointingly Ives was the only member of the victorious first Test forward pack of 1926 to miss selection for the Waratahs. Ives returned to the representative fold in 1929 when he was chosen as a reserve for the second Test of the home series against New Zealand.
His re-emergence was made all the more notable by the fact that rugby had resumed in Queensland and as a consequence the selectors now had three states - New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria - from which to choose the Australian side. When Manly’s Bob Loudon withdrew from the third Test with influenza, Ives was promoted to the run-on XV for what was to be his final cap. Ives ‘took a lot of hard knocks’ during the match and ‘showed brains in taking a mark late in the game when Australia was in sore straits’. Australia won 15-13 to take the series 3-0 and sweep the All Blacks for the first time. Little is known of Ives life after this point in time. Wal Ives played five Tests for Australia in a four-year international career.
Ives won his first Test cap at flanker in a back row that included Ted Thorn and Jack Ford, in the 1st Test, 26-20 win over New Zealand at the Sydney Showground. That back three started both the second and third Tests before Glebe-Balmain’s Jim Tancred replaced Ford at the eleventh hour for the 4th Test, 21-28 defeat.
Ives earned his final Test cap when promoted from the reserves to the run-on XV for the 3rd Test, 15-13 victory over New Zealand at the Exhibition Ground.