Australian Rugby Union Tour of the UK, 1939

Australian Rugby Union Tour of the UK, 1939
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Home movie footage from the Australian Rugby Union Tour of 1939 to 1940, filmed onboard the RMS Mooltan.

This footage was shot by Dr Wally Matthews in his capacity as Manager of the Wallabies for their 1939 to 1940 rugby union tour of Great Britain. The team travelled from Australia by boat for 6 weeks and maintaining their physical fitness and conditioning was a concern.

Many of the team were inexperienced travellers, so recent vaccinations and seasickness took their toll. In this footage we see a lighter approach to training. All on board the Mooltan were dubbed honorary Wallabies and we see some joining in towards the end of the footage.

Born in Bellingen, Dr Wally Matthews played rugby union in the early 1900s. He was a Major in the Army Medical Corps in the First World War; he managed the AIF rugby union team afterwards. He was a doctor and an alderman for Orange Council, serving as mayor between 1936 and 1944, and then between 1948 and 1950.

He is credited in the revival of rugby union in the Orange region, after it had lost ground to rugby league. He also filmed the 1933 Wallabies tour of South Africa, which is held by the NFSA under title numbers 10168 and 10170.

See more home movie footage of the abandoned Wallabies 1939 UK tour.

Summary by Heather Gill