Frank Wright & Matthew Wright
Frank Wright (1954-5, halfback, captain) & Matthew Wright (1984-5, inside centre)
Frank Wright played for the First XV in 1954 (#489). His son Matthew Wright (#913) played for the First XV in 1984-1985. Brave and Game recently caught up with them to get their thoughts and memories of Terrace Rugby.
When I grew up at Terrace my favourite Terrace rugby player was:
Frank: Barry Partridge. He was a brilliant fullback and a great all round sportsman. I enjoyed watching Stephen, his son, play during the 1980s because he reminded me of Barry.
Matthew: Michael Lynagh. I started at Terrace in grade 5 in 1978 and the first XV won every premiership until grade 9. There were fantastic players in all of those teams but Michael Lynagh was the standout. I just remember him completely dominating games. He was completely dominant and had skills that were unmatched.
The best Terrace rugby player I have ever seen:
Frank: Michael Lynagh. He was outstanding at school and he seemed to effortlessly make the transition to representative rugby at the age of 18. His skill level was remarkable and he was also an extremely accomplished defensive player.
Matthew: Again, Michael Lynagh. I have not seen anyone like him since.
My First XV coaches were:
Frank: Br Campbell and Br Dillon. They were both great men who were held in enormous respect by the boys. I think if they had a consistent message it was to exercise controlled aggression. A Terrace old boy who was an international, Colin Forbes, also helped out coaching the forwards.
Matthew: Michael Broad and Duncan Hall in 84 and then Michael and Allan Ball in 85. I had more to do with Michael because I was a back. Broady was a very good coach. He encouraged us to play an expansive game and he placed a great deal of emphasis on skills and fitness. I enjoyed the training sessions.
Frank: Two times a week down at Victoria Park. Each session lasted for about 1 and a half hours and we tended to focus on skill work, positional play, speed work and tackling.
Matthew: We would train on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and there was one lunchtime session. The afternoon sessions were held at Tennyson. On the Tuesday we would tend to do quite a bit of fitness and contact work and on the Thursday we tended to concentrate on moves and have a team run. We always had a camp through the Easter holidays which ended with a tour to Sydney.
The night before a game:
Frank: I would tend to do my homework and read in bed.
Matthew: Before a game we would get together at Terrace and have a meal and watch a video of the previous game. We would then have a team talk and sometimes watch a debate if there was one going on up at the school.
On the day of a game:
Frank: I would get up early and always have a set breakfast of grilled meat with milk. I would then perform my usual chores around the house and sometimes I would mow the lawn. If the game was in Brisbane I would catch the tram to the game. If it was outside of Brisbane, I would catch the bus. I would have a sandwich for lunch on the way to the game.
Matthew: I would get up early and go for a light jog and do some stretches. I would always have a decent breakfast and then Mum and Dad would drive me to the ground around lunchtime. We would tend to have lunch with the opposition team and coaches which tended to comprise cold meats and salads.
I remember my first game in the first XV because:
Frank: I was just very proud to be playing for Terrace and wearing the First XV jersey.
Matthew: It was the day they opened the Pavilion at Tennyson. There was a big crowd there as we were playing Nudgee. I remember that there were a lot of old boys out there wishing us well. We just lost (9-8) and I obviously remember the disappointment of losing. I remember marking a bloke who I thought resembled Andre the Giant. I went in hard on the first tackle and I don’t know what I hit him with but I managed to force a turnover and we ended up scoring from that. I can’t remember much more of that game because I remember getting off the ground after that initial contact and seeing stars for a while. I must have hit him with my head I think. I was 73 kgs at the time and I remember that I found the game physically harder and that it was a big step up from under 15s.
My best win in the First XV was:
Frank: In my senior year against Nudgee. We were down 6 nil at half time and we won 15 to 6. We came home like a train in the second half. The annual described that day as “one of those days on which it is good to be alive”. It was certainly that. In those days if we won, the whole school would come on to the ground after full time and form around the team and the school and the team would all belt out the war cry. I still remember the war cry after the Nudgee game.
Matthew: In 1984, we beat State High 18-3 at State High. State High was a fantastic side that year and went on to win the premiership. We were the only team that beat them and came up against them after having lost to Nudgee and BBC and it is fair to say that we had our backs to the wall. State High had the likes of David Wilson, Paul Kahl and David O’Halloran in their team and they would go on and easily beat an Ipswich Grammar team which was led by the Walters twins. That day was a very special day for us. Lester Hampson came and spoke to us before the game and gave us an inspiring talk in the dressing sheds just before we ran on. Anthony Merlo had a brilliant game at flyhalf and John O’Keefe led the forwards by example as usual. I was lucky enough to score a try and I remember it as the best team performance in my two years in the firsts.
My favourite memory of playing for Terrace:
Frank: Being appointed Captain in my senior year. It was a wonderful honour.
Matthew: The support and encouragement you received from your mates at school after you were selected in the team.
The greatest Terrace win I have ever played in or watched:
Frank: It would have to be the Nudgee game in 1955.
Matthew: I think it was the BSHS game in 1978 when I was in grade 5. Dad had been involved helping out Lester that year with the First XV camp and I had gone along to watch the training sessions. I remember the atmosphere at the State High which was like a cauldron. There was a big crowd and both teams were playing for the premiership. I remember Phil Langley’s field goal to give us the 3 nil margin and then the cliff hanging final few minutes as Terrace defended wave after wave of State High attacks. It was just a great game and a great win.
The best advice I ever received about playing rugby was:
Frank: Enjoy playing the game.
Matthew: Probably three bits of advice. The first is to work as hard off the ball as on the ball. That means that you need to make sure that your work rate is just as high when you haven’t got the ball as it is when you receive and have the ball. Over time I realised the great wisdom in this advice. The second is the old saying ‘Perfect practice makes perfect”. The third is Dad’s old chestnut, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”.
If you could say a few words to the Terrace First XV before they ran out today, what would they be?:
Frank: I would tell the boys to take the opportunity seriously and to value it. There are three keys to good performance which are all connected with honesty in your effort. Play for yourself first. Play for your team second. Play for your school third. I don’t mean that in any selfish sense but rather in an accountability sense. Ultimately you have to be answerable to the man in the mirror and you can have no regrets if you give honest effort all the time.
Matthew: I would remind the boys about how hard they have trained to get where they are and that the game is all about working hard for each other. I would tell them to enjoy the moment and to play with pride. This is their moment and they need to grab it because they will remember these games playing with their mates for the rest of their lives.