1919 – 1938
During the post war era, the NSWRU knew that if rugby was to survive in Australia, the NSW team needed to take the game to the world stage. With the QRU disbanded and their players switching to rugby league, the NSWRU organised incoming and outgoing international tours each year to keep the game alive. So crucial was this period to rugby in Australia, in 1986 the Australian Rugby Union awarded Test status to all matches played by NSW against international countries, including New Zealand Maori. This vision, pragmatism and determination to see rugby survive resulted in the NSWRU men of the time being referred to as ‘The Guardians of the Game’.
Perhaps the most famous Waratahs of all time are the 1927/28 players who embarked on an eight-and-a-half month tour of the UK and Europe.
Playing 31 tour matches and seven pre- and post-tour games, this team, specifically the manner in which the players presented themselves and played the game, saw them labelled as the fathers of ‘running rugby’, establishing the spirit of the Waratahs and a legacy for NSW and Australian rugby.
1927/28 Waratahs Team
1927 Waratahs Team shaking hands with the Duke of York
1927 Waratahs in action
1927 Waratahs versus England
While the 1930s were a difficult time for the NSWRU due to the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, the decade is remembered for one of the most memorable Waratahs victories of all time.
In appalling heavy rain, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the 1937 Waratahs faced the mighty South African Springboks who were backed to continue their unbeaten tour.
Coached by the infamous 1927/28 Waratah captain Johnnie Wallace, the players defied the atrocious weather to throw the ball around in true Waratah style.
The game is now part of folklore with the final score a 17-6 victory to NSW including four wonderful Waratahs tries.