Tom Richards (rugby union)
|T. J. Richards|
|Full name||Thomas James Richards|
|Date of birth||29 April 1882|
|Place of birth||Emmaville, New South Wales|
|Date of death||25 September 1935(aged 53)|
|Place of death||Brisbane, Queensland|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight||13 stone (180 lb; 83 kg)|
|Rugby union career|
|Years||Club / team|
|Charters Towers Waratahs
Charters Towers Natives
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
Thomas James "Rusty" Richards MC (29 April 1882 – 25 September 1935) was an Australian military officer and national representative rugby union player, who was born at Vegetable Creek, Emmaville in New South Wales. Richards was the only player to ever play for both Australia and the British Lions, thus, the Tom Richards Trophy is named in his honor. He is an inductee to the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame.
Richard's Cornish father emigrated to Australia during the Gold Rush from Cornwall in the United Kingdom. Nicknamed Rusty, he grew up in the gold mining town of Charters Towers in Northern Queensland. His interest in the rugby game developed when a New South Wales touring side visited his town. He started training and playing rugby, and went on to represent Queensland. His family moved to South Africa in 1905.
He continued playing rugby in South Africa, playing a small number of games for the Transvaal in the domestic Currie Cup competition. That year the South Africa national rugby union team was preparing for its first overseas tour to Great Britain, and the Currie Cup was used as a trial to select the touring squad. Richards was initially considered as a squad member but a complicated qualifying rule prevented his inclusion. He subsequently travelled to England where he continued playing rugby in the county championships spending a season representing Bristol. Richards also played at county level whilst in Britain and was chosen to play for Gloucester in their encounter with the South Africa team he was excluded from touring with.
He soon returned to Australia and became the lynch-pin of the Queensland pack, which led to him being selected for the 'Wallabies' in the 1908 tour of the United Kingdom. He played in both Test matches of the tour and was Australia's first try-scorer in the Test against Wales. The touring party took part in the 1908 Summer Olympics that were being held in London. The team won gold with Richards again scoring a try, over a Cornish side representing Great Britain. Richards thus became an Olympic Gold medallist.
He returned to South Africa after his touring duties. In 1910 the British Isles team were touring South Africa and in July of that year played Transvaal. The tourist had picked up a number of injuries and Richards was drafted in to face his old team as he qualified to play through his membership with Bristol. He ended up representing Britain on twelve occasions including two Tests against South Africa. He scored once for Britain, a try in the second encounter with Transvaal. He returned to Australia in 1911 and was selected to tour to the United States and Canada with Australia in 1912. He played at break-away in the sole Test of that tour - the November 1912 clash against the United States at Berkeley - and scored a try in that match. In 1913 his wanderlust returned, and he spent the year travelling around Europe, playing rugby in England, France, Italy and Switzerland. While in France he signed with Toulouse as a player and manager.
War service and later life
Richards enlisted in the AIF on 26 August 1914 and in October sailed for Egypt on the Transport Euripides with the 1st Field Ambulance. Landing at Gallipoli on the morning of 25 April 1915, he served as a stretcher-bearer, and was mentioned in divisional orders in July for 'acts of gallantry'.
He returned to Egypt in January 1916 and in March left for the Western Front. On 25 November Corporal Richards was commissioned Second Lieutenant and on 2 December transferred to the 1st Infantry Battalion. In May 1917 at the Battle of Arras near Bullecourt he led a nineteen-man bombing party. He was promoted lieutenant in June and awarded the Military Cross in August. He was evacuated to England twice in 1917 and again in May 1918, with his back and shoulders damaged by a bomb blast. Having spent four months in South Africa en route, in February 1919 he returned to Sydney where his AIF appointment was terminated on 3 November.
|Olympic medal record|
|Men's Rugby union|
|Gold||1908 London||Team competition|
Legacy and accolades
The Tom Richards Cup is the trophy that is played for between the British & Irish Lions and Australia. In 2005 he was honoured as one of the inaugural five inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame. Upon his induction Australian Rugby Union President Paul McLean commented: "late Tom Richards was an extraordinary character whom The Times described in 1908 as the first man to be picked for Earth if we were ever to play Mars!" 
- "Scrum.com player profile of Rusty Richards". Scrum.com. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "Richards, Thomas James (Tom) (1882 - 1935)". www.adb.online.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- "Richards,Tom ARU Hall of Fame". aru.rugby.com.au. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Rugby Heaven
- Griffiths, John (1990). British Lions. Swindon: Crowood Press. p. 52. ISBN 1-85223-541-1.
- "Tom Richards". lionsrugby.com. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- "Tom Richards Trophy". rugby.com.au. Retrieved 12 July 2010.