Cyril Towers

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Cyril Towers
Cyril Towers late career.jpg
Full name Cyril Towers
Date of birth 30 July 1906
Place of birth Mansfield, Victoria
Date of death 1985
School Roma High School
Waverley College
Randwick Boys High
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Centre
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1926–1940 Randwick DRUFC 233
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1926–1938 New South Wales 82
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1926–1937 Australia 19

Cyril Towers (30 July 1906 – 1985) was an Australian rugby union player, a state and national representative centre who made 57 appearances for the Wallabies, played in 19 Test matches and captained the national side on three occasions in 1937.

Cyril Towers

Club career[edit]

Born in Melbourne and raised in Queensland, Towers' club career was with Randwick DRUFC in Sydney for whom he made 233 first grade appearances. Along with Wally Meagher his senior at Randwick, Towers pioneered the application of running rugby tactics at the club. "Attack" was the main credo, setting up the wings the main goal and kicking for touch was frowned upon.[1]

Representative career[edit]

His representative debut was as a 19-year old in 1926 when selected for the New South Wales Waratahs to appear against a touring All Blacks outfit. New South Wales won the match 26–20 and Towers was recalled for the fourth encounter which the hosts lost 21–28. With no Queensland Rugby Union administration or competition in place from 1919 to 1929, the New South Wales Waratahs were the top Australian representative rugby union side of the period and these debut matches were in 1986 decreed by the Australian Rugby Union as official Test matches.

Towers was selected for the 1927-28 Waratahs tour of Britain, France and Canada, turning 21 on the ship going over. He played in 25 matches of the tour exceeded only by Wylie Breckenbridge (29), Tom Lawton (27) and Alex Ross (29). With Jack Ford he was the equal top try scorer and the equal second highest point scorer behind Lawton. He played in three Test matches of the tour.

He wrote a travel diary of the 1927–28 tour which was serialised between June and December 1928 for the magazine Australian Banker. (Towers worked in banking). His Test match reports are quoted extensively in the tour article.

Towers toured New Zealand in 1928 with the Waratahs under Syd Malcolm as captain. Geoff Bland was the only other veteran from the 1927 World Tour squad and five matches in total were won and five lost. Towers played in all matches, including three Tests and was top scorer with 29 points. Howell quotes Chester and McMillan from The Visitors: "Towers was hailed by many critics as the best centre in the world rugby and was certainly one of the great Australian players of all time".[2]

In 1929 the All Blacks toured Australia, Towers was in two of the three Test sides captained by Tom Lawton which for the first time in history beat the All Blacks 3–0 in a series whitewash. With the Queensland Rugby Union now back in existence for the first time since 1919 this was the first truly national Wallabies side fielded since 1914.

National captain[edit]

Great Britain toured Australia in 1930 and Towers played against them in four matches for state and country. Then in 1931 he was a senior in the full Australian side sent to New Zealand with Syd Malcolm as captain. They won three, drew one and lost six matches including the single Test but Towers played in nine matches, was the tour's top try-scorer and was honoured for the first time with the national captaincy in a minor match against Seddon Shield Districts.

In 1933, Towers was left out of the squad that made Australia's first ever rugby tour of South Africa. It was a controversial omission made by team manager Dr Wally Mathews because of Towers' forthrightness and perceived disruptiveness. Still he had further representative appearances ahead of him. In 1934 he played in the two match series against the All Blacks in which the Wallabies wrestled away the Bledisloe Cup for the first time. Then in 1937 perhaps his finest hour, as Australia's Test captain in the 9–5 defeat against the touring Springboks then hailed as the finest side in the world, in which game Towers scored all of Australia's points and inspired the defence to hold out the Boks onslaught.[3]

He retired in 1940 after having again been left out of the 1939 Wallaby side – a blessing since the team travelled to the other side of the world but did not play a match due to the outbreak of World War II. He had played 57 matches for Australia, 19 of them Tests, 2 of those as captain.

Post-playing and family[edit]

In retirement he was one of the first rugby commentators, becoming known as the "voice of rugby" from his broadcasts for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

His son-in-law Jake Howard played in the front-row for the Wallabies in the 1970s. Jake's son, Cyril's grandson Pat Howard, also played centre for Australia in the 1990s. A plaque in the Sydney Cricket Ground's Walk of Honour commemorates Towers' career. In 2006 he was honoured in the second set of inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame


Towers (6th from left) with the victorious Bledisloe Wallabies, 1st Test v NZ 11Aug1934

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Collection (1995) Gordon Bray presents The Spirit of Rugby, Harper Collins Publishers Sydney
  • Howell, Max (2005) Born to Lead – Wallaby Test Captains, Celebrity Books, Auckland NZ

External links[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Howell p 113
  2. ^ Howell Wallaby Test Captains p115
  3. ^ Howell p116