Mould in charge of rugby greats
IT is considered to be possibly the greatest gathering of natural rugby talent ever seen and Geoff Mould had a front row seat.
Mould was the coach of the famous 1977-78 Australian Schoolboys team which included the Ella brothers, Wally Lewis, Michael Hawker, Michael O’Connor and Tony Melrose.
It was a team that famously won all 17 of its games on a tour in Japan, France, Britain and Holland.
Under Mould’s stewardship on that tour, the team scored an incredible 110 tries while conceding only three.
Mould recalls that the brilliant team scored 13 of those tries from behind its own try line.
There was one try though that stood out above them all.
“Before we went we trained at the Waverley College grounds and I said on this tour we’ll score one of the great tries at one of the great grounds like Lansdowne Road or Twickenham or Cardiff Arms Park,” Mould recalled.
“We were playing Wales at the Arms Park and there was 28,000 people that came to see a schoolboy game.
“We were trailing 6-0 from two goals and they had big forwards who were giving us a bit of a caning up front.
“They kicked the ball down to the corner and we had a lineout, it was our throw-in and we threw the ball in and I can remember Glen Ella yelling out ‘out here, out here’.
“The ball came down, we fed it back and they all started to retreat presuming we were going to kick for touch.
“Well there were three passes behind the sticks, the whole length of the field and there was 11 passes before we scored under the sticks at the other end.
“The crowd just sat there absolutely stunned. They couldn’t believe it.
“Just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang and Gary Ella scores.”
Unbeknown to many in the squad, the equivalent of rugby royalty was in the stands watching, and Mould remembers fondly that they were moved to show their appreciation of what they had just seen.
“The Welsh team, which was the best rugby team in the world in those days, had been practising in the morning on the next ground.
“They just all stood up and started to clap,” he said.
“The whole crowd stood to clap and they started singing Waltzing Matilda.
“It just brought tears to my eyes.
“Wally Lewis was injured and was sitting next to me and he was saying “that’s it Mouldy, that’s the one”.
Such brilliance was no surprise though. Mould added that you only had to see the team train to realise how special it was.
“We trained once in beastly conditions, not atypical of England, and I was working with the scrum and the backs were just over the other side playing a game of touch,” he said.
“It was a muddy ground and freezing cold. I could feel the cold coming up through my legs while I was working on the machine.
“After training we went back to the clubhouse and the place was packed and I said to the manager of the club ‘have you got some sort of function on here today?’.
“He said ‘no, we just came to watch your team train’.
“He said that they had a bet as to how long it would take for one of your play- ers to drop the ball in the mud.
“They played for 43 minutes before they dropped a ball and he said, ‘we’ve never seen anything like that ever, they were fantastic’.
“That’s how good they were.”
Mould recalls the tour with tremendous pride and admits all of the players hold a special place in his heart.
“I can tell you there hasn’t been a day in my life ever since that I hadn’t at some stage of it thought of that team,” the coach said.
“It was the greatest rugby team Australia’s ever had ... even though they were schoolboys adorned with riches across the park.”