1977: A Premiership Team Remembered - 30 Years On
1977 was a great year in Terrace’s Rugby history.
The year’s 1st XV team, coached by Mr. Lester Hampson and captained by Mark Moore, combined brilliant attacking flair, well drilled Rugby techniques and dogged resolute defence to win our first premiership for twenty one years and become the first Terrace undefeated 1st XV team since 1929.
B & G: David, thanks for talking to Brave and Game. When did you start playing Rugby?
David: I started to play at school in about grade 4 at Gregory Terrace. I was there from grade 4 to grade 12. Before that, I’d gone to a convent, where of all things because we had American nuns we actually played NFL.
B & G: Which convent was that?
David: Queen of Apostles at Stafford.
When I started at Terrace in 1969, I didn’t really understand the game so I thought I’d play for a club as well so I could understand it. I played with Teachers Norths. There were two other boys from my year who happened to play there as well, Peter Harris and Brian Hickey. Both played in my team. In particular I played with Brian Hickey for many years, probably for three or four years I played at Teachers North, as well as playing for Terrace.
B & G: Were you always in the A’s at Terrace?
David: No, I was usually a B player, but I must have been close to the A’s because
I normally used to be the reserve for the A’s. I used to play a fair few games in
the A’s, but I was mainly in the B’s.
B & G: Was there a break through year where you became an established A player?
David: Yes. I think when I was in the Under 14’s I became an A player. I grew early compared to the other boys. I was big enough and strong enough that they had to put me into the team. I think in the Under 13’s I played some B’s and some A’s and from Under 14’s I was in the A’s.
B & G: And your position?
David: I was always the loose head prop. I don’t know why it started off like that. I think it was mainly because Mark Henley was always a tight head prop. I was the other prop. I played one memorable game in the Under 15’s as a Number 8, as a lock, as we used to say. After that I stayed in the front row.
B & G: So you worked through the under age teams - what are your first memories of working with the coach - Lester Hampson.
David: Actually, I had something to do with him in the Under 16A’s. I can remember that he treated us as guinea pigs, because before the Firsts played Grammar that year, my memory is that Grammar must have had a huge pack and the Firsts didn’t think they could match it in the scrum.
He got us to pack a few scrums - the 16A’s against the Firsts. When we really got to pushing hard, suddenly they’d just split their scrum in two and all break away and we’d fall flat on the ground. We’d do that over and over again. We could tell what was about to happen, but it was obviously them training to know how to quickly break away from the scrum. They used to engage, hook the ball and then break apart which was their aim.
Lester was fantastic. He was highly respected. You’d get down there and he’d be sitting there smoking his pipe and he’d always ask you questions and he respected what your opinion was. What happened here and what happened there. He’d take people aside and talk to them very specifically, never in an abusive or derogatory way. It was always encouraging. Giving very specific advice. He really was an intellectual coach and I think most of us really appreciated that. Of course, he particularly loved complicated back line moves. He’d always have me as a forward standing against them – caught on the back foot and totally bewildered with another double cut out pass and somebody coming around inside etc. He loved all of those sort of things.
B & G: Let’s turn to the 1977 Season. The team opened with a good win against BBC, then came Churchie. Do you remember that game?
David: Churchie was a hard game. We’d had a pretty good start to the season but by the second game I think we played really well as a team. It looked as though if we got through Churchie, the middle of the season would be relatively easy. Not that we were looking at the premiership at that time but we should be doing well that season. I thought we played very well against Churchie. On a personal note I can remember after the match my mother came up to me and said ‘were you playing out there?’
She said she saw me running on the field and she saw me running off the field, and she said she never saw me at any other time during the game. Brian Cole was standing near by and he said ‘that’s the greatest compliment you can ever pay to a front row forward’. I assured my mother I was in the bottom of every ruck and scrum.
B & G: David, was it the experience of playing in the team that was enjoyable – or was it more the feeling of being in the Firsts and winning?
David: No it was genuinely enjoyable to play in the team. I thought it was great. They were good people to play with. We were friends together outside of rugby as well.
B & G: Then there was Downlands.
David: Yes, I think a couple of people stood down for that game. For some strange reason I was actually made the captain that day. Much to my dismay, my brother Stephen actually spent a year at Downlands and that happened to be the year. When I went on to the field there were shouts from the crowd about getting Pincus and they really got me that day. I eventually got carried off unconscious. I actually ended up having to stay up at Toowoomba for one night after that game. Then I wasn’t allowed to play the following week.
So I didn’t play the next game. Instead I went along that week to watch Grammar play State High. I think this is a good measure of what a good person Lester Hampson was. I went and reported that they had a fellow called Chris Roach, who was just absolutely magnificent for State High. Particularly in the second half, he just ran down the blind and he just made so much ground. He was a great player. They obviously had Wally Lewis as well in that team.
Following that Lester devised a plan where John Ford would stand off the side where the half back was on the blind side of every ruck, because John was the best, most ferocious tackler in the team.
He would stand there so that it was all organized, so he would be able to handle Chris Roach. So we had to reorganize the forwards a little bit so that John could stand out in the ruck to be able to do that. I think that shows two things – first Lester Hampson listened to what people had to say and second he really did think about it, planning well in advance.
B & G: What about the next two games – Toowoomba and Ipswich Grammar
David: Toowoomba Grammar and Ipswich Grammar were both horrible games and we were happy to get through them with a win. They really weren’t very convincing. I’d interpret it as teams could see that they were playing against a better team, they just turned it into kicking, tackling and trying in any way possible to prevent them all from being free (wins). We had a great set of backs and we got dragged back a couple of times towards the opposition.
B & G: So in the second last game of the season you defeat Brisbane Grammar and set up a grand final with State High – that must have been an extraordinary time.
David: There had been a lot of press. Every day the Courier Mail would come along and take pictures of us at training. It was even on the television news, about the match coming up. So, there did seem to be a genuine amount of interest around the city about that game. I think that I found it personally too stressful. That game - I could hardly sleep for the week before. My mind was going over and over and over. I think I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time we played.
I think that State High knew that they were in for a hard game and this was going to determine the premiership, but they had so many people who had ... I think Wally Lewis and Chris Roach who were looking at three or four years in the Firsts by that stage. They had just so many good players that they really did think they were going to win that day. I think that they were amazed, particularly in the first half. We just really wiped them off the field by the end of the first half.
I can remember very early on that they did a kick through to Mark Moore and he ran up threw a player, and much to my surprise, I was the person who was there in support of him, as the front row forward. I can remember I got the ball and ran it about 30 metres before anybody was near me. I passed it to Brian Hickey and went into a ruck. John Abbot made a couple of fantastic runs. He played well that day. He was so elusive as a big runner, he had a good pass when he needed it. I think that our team played absolutely out of our skins.
B & G: How did you feel after the game?
David: It was a great thing for the school. You’ll know better than me, it was many, many years since we’d won in the Firsts. Although others had gone pretty close. We were lucky we had people like Mark Moore, Mark McBain and Mark Henley. They had all played the previous year. People who came up like Tony Parker and Michael Maranta who were a year below. Clearly ended up being fantastic footballers. We had a lot of good talent in the team. It was probably a mixture of our time, a good team and a great coach. Everything went our way. Yes, there was great celebration at the school. It was a fantastic occasion.
B & G: Did you play on after school?
David: No, I went in to the School Boy trials. I got selected for the Queensland School Boy trials. I went along once and then I decided that I’d been knocked out a few times. I wanted to do medicine and I really did have to put my head down that last term to make sure I got a good enough mark to get into medicine. So I did – and I never played another game.
Sailing then became my next career. I did lots of sailing on a national and international level. Lots of ocean racing. I played touch football the whole way through University and I still play in a men’s division down on the coast. I still play football, but I’ve never played rugby again.
B & G: Any thoughts for the teams taking the field today?
David: I don’t have anything that is particularly profound. I’ve always been a believer that in life that you do as many things as you possibly can.
My only other comment is that there are only certain times in your life where opportunities come to you. I’d always encourage my own children that even if something might have a little bit of a disadvantage to it, if you’ve got an opportunity you should take it and you can decide whether you pursue it later, or not. I think it was great to have that opportunity. I think I was privileged to have it.
B & G: David, thanks so much for talking with us.
David: My pleasure.
David Pincus attended Terrace from 1969 until 1977 and was a member of Terrace’s 1977 GPS Premiership winning team. After leaving Terrace, David qualified as a doctor and is now a Consultant Paediatrician, living and working at the Gold Coast.