James Goode (Jim) Clark
Born 9 September, 1908 in Bundaberg and died in 1979.
University of Queensland
Queensland 15 matches (1930-1934)
Australia 18 matches, 5 tests (1931-1933)
Captain: 1931 Australia v New Zealand Maori
Queensland State Selector
A fast, agile, and a versatile sportsman, James Goode Clark represented both his state and country in Rugby and achieved the honor of captaining the Wallabies. An outstanding flanker, Clark was credited by South African rugby great, Danie Craven, as being the hardest tackler he had ever encountered, a man who ‘shook the cobwebs loose when they clashed’ . In his mid twenties, Jim was light for a flanker, weighing just 12 stone, but he was highly mobile and an excellent tackler. Following his retirement from the game his contribution to Rugby continued through his role as a State Selector.
According to Jack Pollard, the Clark brothers were two of the best footballers produced by Gregory Terrace Christian Brothers College . The sons of a nomadic publican and shopkeeper, Hughie Clark, the family were ardent rugby supporters for more than forty years. The Clarks were first cousins of Joe French, Queensland and Australia selector and manager and president of the Australian Rugby Football Union. A hard tackler and a fast, agile player, Jim played during a golden age of Australian Rugby Union from 1929 to 1934.
After a sustained hiatus following the beginning of World War 1 Queensland Rugby re-emerged in 1929. A number of Brisbane clubs who had switched to Rugby League voted to rejoin the Rugby Union; among these were the University of Queensland club. Described as a “big fast” flanker, the young Jim Clarke from University was elevated into the Queensland team for their first match against New South Wales for the 1930 season. Queensland managed to draw the first match of the series 6 all, but was defeated in the return encounters that year. The series that year was particularly competitive as places in the Australian side for a one off test match against a touring English Lions team since 1904 was scheduled for that year.
In response to the revival of Rugby in Queensland, the 1930 touring team from Great Britain toured the state to play matches against a variety of representative sides. Although still one week shy of his twenty second birthday Jim Clark was selected to meet the visitors on his representative debut for Queensland. With the return of a touring team to Queensland, a crowd of five thousand, including the Governor, Sir John Goodwin, were on hand to watch the game and despite being outweighed, the Queenslanders gave an excellent account of themselves. Great Britain won the game, 26-16. It was noted that Clark read the game well and along with fellow forward, F. J. Whyatt, tormented the British halves with many long, incisive runs and great backing up. Nonetheless, Great Britain, according to the Brisbane Courier, had ‘the perfect blend of speed and weight’ and that a ‘lively versatility, and a machine-like precision in swarming through the barriers of defence’ was the key to their success . Clarke’s successful year was caped wit Univeristy capturing the Brisbane club Rugby premiership for the 1930 season.
Clark’s continued club and representative form during the 1931 season saw him selected as vice-Captain of the Wallabies touring team for the ten match tour of New Zealand. As many of the 1928-29 Wallabies had chosen to retire, the touring Australians featured and array of new faces. Clark was not the only debutante; Harold Herd, Harold Tolhurst, Jack Steggall, Gordon Bennett, Owen Bridle, Tom Perrin and Max White all made their test debuts while on tour. Phillip Clark, Jim’s brother and another Terrace Old Boy, joined the tour debutantes and the pair continued the tradition of strong Rugby families produced by St Josephs that included the Carmichaels the Dores prior to World War 1.
Due to the success of the Wallabies over the 1929 touring All Blacks, great things were expected of the 1931 Australian team, who were proclaimed as the best in the world. Results in the pre-test matches, however, were disappointing. Australia drew one match but lost against Southland, Canterbury, Seddon Shield Districts and Wellington. The Wallabies’ poor results were attributed to the conditions. Manager Tom Davis lamented,
We have been rather unlucky regarding the weather. Every game has been closely contested, and at times the team has played brilliantly, but unluckily every ground has been drenched by rain, and our boys, especially those from Queensland, are unused to these conditions.
The match against New Zealand Maori, at Palmerston North Showgrounds on 9 September was Australia’s first win of the tour. Although not regarded as a Test at the time, it is now accorded Test status in Australia despite the New Zealand Rugby Union’s refusal to award official test caps for such matches. Like all preliminary matches on this tour, the one against New Zealand Maori was a mid-week affair and the Australia mid-week side was usually the second XV and was known as ‘Wednesday boys’ or dirt trackers’. Subsequently, the regular Australian Captain, Syd Malcolm, did not play against New Zealand Maori, as he was rested in anticipation of the All Blacks test match that weekend. It was left to Jim Clark to captain this side, which included his brother Phil. This was the only occasion on which Clark was to lead the Wallabies onto the field in a Test match.On a fine day, before a crowd of eight thousand, the Australians produced bright, open play, despite the heaviness of the ground and the greasy ball. Though the Maoris gained the initial advantage, the Australians worked their way back, to win 14-3. Clark then captained the winning Wallabies in the match against Waikato-King Country, with the final score being 30-10 maintaning his unbeaten record as national captain.
On 12 September the Australians played their only official test match of the tour against the All Blacks. This was the first match ever played for the Bledisloe Cup. Lord Bledisloe, the Governor-General of New Zealand, donated the Cup to foster sporting ties between New Zealand and Australia. The Cup was presented for the first time at Eden Park, Auckland, with Lord Bledisloe, personally shaking the hand of each player. Jim’s brother Phil was deemed not of test calibre, however, Jim’s play on the tour meant he was selected as a one of the two flankers. New Zealand won the toss and was favoured by a light wind. Australia gave a dazzling display in the first half but failed to score in the second. The Australians treated the crowd to brilliant patches of play but were haphazard at stages when combination was of sterling importance . The All Blacks won 20-13, but the New Zealand Truth considered that ‘the Wallabies should have won’ . The longstanding rivalry between New Zealand and Australia for the Bledisloe Cup had begun. Clark’s performance in the losing team was considered outstanding and his devastating tackling was especially noted. It would be the last match in which the New Zealanders would utilise their 2-3-2 scrum formation. In April 1932 the International Rugby Board ruled that a team must have three men in the front row.
In all Jim played in seven of the Australian’s ten games on tour, including two Tests, one against New Zealand and one against New Zealand Maori. His brother Phil only played two matches out of the ten and was not selected to play what at the time was considered an official Test . The tour was however deemed a disappointment with Australia losing six, drawing one and only winning three of their matches in New Zealand.
Both Clark’s were selected in the Queensland side for the 1932 interstate series against New South Wales. Although Queensland lost the first and third games to lose the series, their play to win the second encounter in Sydney was described as “wonderful” and highlighted by “superhuman” tackling. Clark’s play saw him selected in the Australian team to meet the touring New Zealanders in the first of the year’s test matches. This was the first match in which the New Zealanders would be forced to use a new scrum formation as their previously successful, 2-3-2 formation, had been banned in April 1932 by an International Rugby Board edict that a team must have three men in the front row. Played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 2 July, the international attracted a crowd of over twenty eight thousand with Australia winning 22-17. The New Zealanders led at half time, but a thrilling second half of spectacular play saw the Wallabies defeat the All Blacks. The New Zealanders scrummage formation was of concern, and was changed from 3-4-1 to 3-3-2 as Australia won a majority of the scrums. It was believed that the New Zealanders failure to adapt to the new formation was the key to their defeat; however Australia also had the advantage in the line-outs, and was awarded 16 penalties against seven . The Sydney Morning Herald said of the exciting match that “[Tom] Lawton’s experience welded a team which began as individualists into a brilliant combination which well deserved victory’ .
The match against Queensland a week later on 9 July at the Exhibition Ground was attended by ten thousand spectators. The All Blacks demonstrated a decisive superiority over Queensland, according to the Brisbane Courier, with the end result seeing the visitors winning 28-8 . The All Black “struck a purple patch” in the lead up to the second test defeating Ipswich-Brisbaen 44-12 and Toowoomba 30-6. Clark’s excellent performance in this match combined with his play in the first test victory assured his selection in the Wallabies side for the second Test to be played in Brisbane the following weekend.
The second Test for the Bledisloe Cup was held at the Exhibition Ground in Brisbane on 16 July, 1932 with ideal conditions, a slight breeze and hard, sun baked ground that was expected to favour the Australians. Unfortunately for the Wallabies the conditions were not conducive enough. Despite the attendance of the Governor, Sir Lesilie Wilson a disappointing crowd of fifteen thousand, one-third of them, non-paying Exhibition members, were on hand to see the All Blacks defeated Australia 21-3 . The stunning team work of the All Blacks demolished the Wallabies 21-3 and the series now stood at 1-1.
The All Blacks made only one change for the third test. Australia, however, made widespread changes and this was widely felt to be because of the dominance of the pack under the coaching of Billy Wallace. Jim Clark lost his place to Randwick player, Len Palfewyman, and another Queenslander Max White was replaced by ‘Weary’ Dunlop. A massive crowd of thirty thousand attended the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Bledisloe Cup decider with victory going to the All Blacks 21-13. The Bledisloe Cup, therefore, was retained by New Zealand with a 2-1 victory and returned across the Tasman. Clark’s disappointment at being dropped from the national side tempered by University’s victories in the Hospbital Cup and Premiership competition.
In 1933, Jim was selected as a member of the first Australian team to tour South Africa. The Australians played twenty three matches, including five Tests, on this arduous tour. Upon their arrival in Cape Town the Wallabies faced the harsh realities of the high standarnd and physically style of play favoured in South Africa. After winning four and losing five of their preliminary matches, the Wallabies faced a strong South African side, before a crowd of twenty thousand at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town on 8 July in the first Test. The Wallabies wore the Waratah’s blue jerseys with the Australian coat of arms, black shorts and navy blue socks so has not to clash with the home side’s Green jersey. The Springboks defence was sound and the injury ravaged Wallabies were overrun by the strength of their gigantic pack and excellent general play .
Although he played well in the First Test, Clark’s tour was cruelled by injury and he did not play in another test on tour. He was not alone. The Wallabies suffered greatly from injury which restricted choices for subsequent Tests. Out of the twenty three matches played, the Wallabies won twelve (including only two of the five Tests), lost ten and drew one. The South Africans believed the tour of the Wallabies invigorated the game in South Africa and the ‘open and spectacular play of their backs in keeping the ball in play, and the speed and enterprise of their forwards’ was something they could learn from . In all Clark featured in only nine matches on tour.
The following year, Jim was again chosen in the Queensland side to play against New Zealand on 5 August 1934. Only just over five thousand attended the game at the Exhibition Ground on a very hot day. Queensland put in some strong early attacks but fell away in the second half and was defeated by the tourists 31-14. Clark was chosen in an Australian XV for a match against New Zealand at the Exhibition Ground on 18 August 1934, however this match was not granted official Test status. The match was expected to be close and the players did not disappoint the fourteen thousand in attendance. The All Blacks won a tightly fought game and narrowly defeated the Australian XV 11-6. This was to be Clark last appearance in an Australian jersey. Coincidently, Australia won the test series 1-0 (the second Test was a draw) giving the Wallabies the Bledislose Cup for the first time.
Aside from his impressive representative career Clark’s club career with the University of Queensland cub was superlative. During his time with the club, University won three Brisbane premierships and Clark was the captain of the side for at least one of these successful seasons. As a part of this commitment, Jim also found time to tour Japan with a combined Australian University side in 1934. Little is know about his post-Rugby career until his death in 1979.