Wilfrid Hubert Hemingway
- 254Wallaby Number
Bill Hemingway was a prolific try-scoring winger and reliable goal-kicker who emerged alongside a number of high class flyers in the wake of the 1927/28 Waratahs tour and as Queensland rugby reformed from its 15-year hiatus. While short in stature, he stood just 5ft 9in., Hemingway packed a hefty 13 stone onto his frame and proved to be an immensely difficult man to stop when in full cry. Born in Auckland, Hemingway relocated to Australia with his family just before the outbreak of World War I and was educated at Sydney Grammar School where he played two seasons in the 1st XV (1925-26). Hemingway also shone in both rowing and athletics, notably in the sprints and the long jump. After school he enrolled in Law at the University of Sydney and joined the rugby club.
Hemingway made his first grade debut in 1927 where ‘his top-end speed, allied to good finishing skills, soon marked him out as a winger of above-average ability.’ The following year ‘he proved a consistent scorer for the Students’ yet remarkably was overlooked for both New South Wales v. Victoria fixtures and had to be content with a run for ‘No.2’ v. ‘No.1’ in the trial that doubled as a curtain raiser for the Sydney-leg of the interstate series. Nonetheless, just a day after that match, Hemingway was named as one of three teenagers in the 26 strong touring party to New Zealand. He played in six of the 10 matches including the second ‘Test’ in Dunedin which, some 66 years later, would be confirmed as his Test debut.
That match was one of 34 that were retrospectively elevated to Test status by the ARU in order to recognise all New South Wales fixtures played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals had been granted Test status in 1986). Hemingway returned home with a reputation firmly made and a rating as one of the successes in what was regarded as a good tour. As such it was somewhat of a surprise that his only appearances against the 1929 All Blacks were for an Australian XV, following the late withdrawal of Queensland’s Gordon McGhie, and the New South Wales 2nd XV. Hemingway remained in the representative wilderness in 1930, a year he topped the try-scorers list for University with 13, when he did not figure in any of the fixtures against the touring British Lions. As a consequence he was regarded as something of a ‘bolter’ when included in the Wallaby squad that toured New Zealand in 1931.
Hemingway played in nine of the 10 matches and started both Tests. A year later he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and then made his lone Test appearance at home before being overlooked for the key trial matches ahead of the 1933 tour to South Africa. Hemingway then relocated to the Upper Hunter Valley region for business-related reasons and switched codes to play rugby league for Scone. Bill Hemingway played five Tests for Australia in a five-year international career.
Hemingway won his first Test cap on the right wing in the 2nd Test, 14-16 loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook. In that match he scored a try to become the 20th Wallaby to score a Test try on debut. He retained his spot for the 3rd Test, 11-8 victory at Lancaster Park and scored what proved to be the game’s decisive try.
He started on the left wing in each of the Tests played on the tour to New Zealand - against the Maori in Palmerston North and in the 13-20 loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Hemingway picked up his final cap, and his only one at home, in the 3rd Test, 13-21 defeat to New Zealand at the S.C.G.