World Rugby Hall of Fame - Induction No.98 - Thomas James ‘Rusty’ Richards MC (Charters Towers, Queensland, Bristol, Somerset, Gloucestershire, East Midlands, Transvaal, Toulouse, Australia and British and Irish Lions) 1882-1935
One of 25 legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at Wembley Stadium, London, on 20 September, 2015.
Born: 29 April 1882
Died: 25 September, 1935 in Brisbane, Australia
One of the six children (four of them sons) of a Cornish miner who emigrated to Australia during the gold rush, ‘Rusty’ Richards was born in Rose Valley, Emmanville in New South Wales and started playing rugby with his brother Bill (Edward) in Charters Towers, Queensland.
A resilient, athletic and highly mobile forward, he played all over the world, from his native Australia to South Africa, England, Wales, France and even the USA and Canada, the last two as a member of the 1913 Wallabies touring team. To crown a superb ‘have boots, will travel’ career he also played for the 1910 British and Irish Lions in South Africa.
When his family moved from Australia to South Africa in 1905, he played for the Mines club in Johannesburg and represented Transvaal in the Currie Cup and nearly got selected for the 1906 Springboks. Nevertheless, he travelled to England and played for Bristol, Somerset and Gloucester, the latter against the visiting Springboks, after which he returned to Australia.
He impressed the selectors as the leader of an assertive Queensland pack and was selected for the First Wallabies, for whom he played in the two tests on the UK tour and was a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 1908 Olympics. He travelled back to Australia, then to South Africa – visited at the time by the 1910 Lions – and re-joined Transvaal.
However, he was asked by the injury-ridden Lions to help out, as he was qualified to play for them on the strength of his season with Bristol and Somerset. He joined the Lions and made 12 tour appearances including two tests. After the tour he returned to Australia and was selected for the Australian tour of the USA and Canada in 1913 as vice-captain and pack leader. After the tour he returned to Europe and went on playing club rugby in England, Wales, France (Toulouse) and according to some accounts even Switzerland.
He joined the Australian Imperial Force as a private in 1914 and saw action at Gallipoli, in Egypt, and on the Western Front where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and won the Military Cross for gallantry. The Tom Richards Trophy rewards the winner of the series between the British and Irish Lions and Australia.