Greatest age group rugby union sides

or 6 Australian Schoolboys teams and 62 wallabies

Greatest age group rugby union sides. A catchy headline, for sure. Written by Adam Julian for ROAR some years ago, he presented six teams for consideration as the “greatest age group rugby union sides” : two of the teams from Australia, two from New Zealand, and one each from South Africa and Ireland.

He provides a brief analysis of each team, key achievements and stars of the teams. No biases, just an interesting short read. Read Adam’s piece (click here),

The ROAR candidates for the ‘greatest age group rugby union sides’, not ranked, were:

  • 1977 Australian Schoolboys
  • 1992/1993: New Zealand Schools
  • 1998 Ireland Under-19
  • 2002 South Africa Under-21
  • 2002 New Zealand Under-19
  • 2006 Australia Under-19

And while on it, lets look at six great Australian Schoolboys teams to see how they stack up:

  • Tony Melrose’s 1977 team
  • Steve Tuynman’s 1981 team
  • Ricky Stuart’s 1985 team
  • David Lyon’s 1998 team
  • Patrick McCutcheon’s 2005 team
  • Kurtley Beale’s 2006 team

The 1977, ’81, ’85 and ’98 teams each went undefeated on tour. The 2005 and 2006 teams were stacked with future Wallabies.

These six Australian Schoolboy teams accounted for 62 Wallabies

1977 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS

1977-78 TOUR OF ENGLAND, WALES, IRELAND, JAPAN, NETHERLANDS AND FRANCE
  • Undefeated in 16 matches, including 4 tests: England, Wales, Ireland, Japan
  • 553 pts for with 97 pts against
  • Scored 110 tries, an average of just under seven per match, and only let in six tries
  • The entire backline played for the Wallabies, with Wally Lewis and Michael O’Connor playing with the Kangaroos
  • Tony Melrose captain with 10 Wallabies: Tony Melrose (Cpt), Mark Ella, Glen Ella, Gary Ella, Michael O’Connor, Michael Hawker, Chris Roche, Tony D’Arcy, Shane Nightingale, Dominic Vaughan

Won 42 – 0        Japan

 –                       France (cancelled due to frozen ground)

Won 54 – 6        London Counties

Won 28 – 12     South West

Won 66 – 0        North Wales

Won 30 – 7        Ulster

Won 12 – 10     Ireland

Won 34 – 6        Leinster

Won 14 – 6        East Wales

Won 25 – 6        Wales

Won 36 – 0        West Wales

Won 37 – 4        South and South Midland

Won 63 – 12     Midland Counties

Won 33 – 9        Northern

Won 14 – 6        Sevenoaks School & Old Boys

Won 31 – 9        England

Won 34 – 4        Netherlands Youth

1985 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS

1985/86 TOUR OF THE UK, BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS & ITALY
  • Undefeated in 15 matches, including 3 tests: England, Scotland, Ireland
  • 426 pts for with 36 pts against
  • 10 matches kept the opposition scoreless
  • Ricky Stuart captain with 9 Wallabies: Ricky Stuart, Richard Tombs, Scott Gourley, David Dix, David Wilson, Sam Scott-Young, Paul Kahl, Matthew Ryan, Michael Foley (Ricky Stuart dual Wallaby & Kangaroo)
  • NOTE: Next year, 2025, is the 40th anniversary of the 1985 tour, so we look forward to celebrating the team at the annual fundraising luncheon next March.

Won 7 – 3           Italian Youth

Won 17 – 6        Belgium Youth   

Won 24 – 12     Scotland 

Won 57 – 0        South of Scotland       

Won 13 – 0        Campion School   

Won 52 – 0        Eastern Counties

Won 13 – 9        Ireland  

Won 6 – 0          Ulster 

Won 25 – 0        Munster    

Won 54 – 0        Midlands 

Won 15 – 0        South and South West   

Won 18 – 0        Northern Counties

Won 30 – 0        London Schools  

Won 66 – 0 Netherland Youth

Won 29 – 6  England 

1981 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS

1981/82 tour of Ireland and the UK
  • Undefeated in 10 matches, including two tests: Scotland and Ireland.
  • Scored 264 pts for with 45 pts against.
  • Steve Tuynman captain with 10 Wallabies:  Steve Tuynman, Brad Burke, Matthew Burke, Mark Hartill, Tim Kava, David Knox, Cameron Lillicrap, Michael Lynagh, Brett Papworth and Ian Williams

Won 12 – 9 Ulster

Won 36- 6 Leinster     

Won 14 – 0 Connaught Selection    

Won 24 – 0 Ireland    

Won 18 – 6 Munster  

Won 52 – 3 South-West Colts

Won 24 – 12 South West 

Won 34 – 0 Scotland 

Won 37 – 0 Midlands  

Won 13 – 9 Welsh Youth

1998 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS

1998/99 TOUR OF CANADA, IRELAND AND THE UK
  • Undefeated in 13 matches, including 5 tests: England, Wales, Scotland U19s, Ireland, Canada U19s.
  • Scored 438 pts for with 111 pts against.
  • David Lyons captain with 7 Wallabies:  David Lyons, Huia Edmonds, Gareth Hardy, Daniel Heenan, Anthony Mathison, George Smith, Josh Man-Rae

Won 63 – 13     Canada U19’s

Won 35 – 3       Canada U19’s A

Won 24 – 7       Munster 

Won 13 – 10     Leinster 

Won 22 – 12     Ireland    

Won 54 – 10     Scotland Under 19

Won 41 – 9        Scotland Under 19 A

Won 21 – 12     North of England

Won 15 – 10     South of England

Won 64 – 3      Welsh Chairman’s XV  

Won 56 – 10     Wales 

Won 9 – 3         England A  

Won 21 – 9        England              

                 

2005 & 2006 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS

The 2005 and 2006 teams are both worthy of consideration, if only because of the strength of each team. The 2005 team had 14 Wallabies, including  Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper, while the 2006 team had 12 Wallabies, including  Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper, Will Genia & David Pocock.

But their results do not stand up. The 2005 team had 10 matches in the UK with 7 wins and 3 losses (321 pts for & 143 pts against), and the 2006 team had 6 matches in the Pacific, including New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga, for 4 wins and 2 losses (123 pts for & 73 pts against).

2006 TOUR OF FIJI AND NEW ZEALAND

2006 Australian Schoolboys: Kurtley Beale Captain, with 12 Wallabies including Albert Anae, Kurtley Beale, Peter Betham, Nathan Charles, Quade Cooper, Rod Davies; Robert Horne, Ben McCalman, Dan Palmer, Paddy Ryan, Rob Simmons, Tetera Faulkner.

  • 6 matches in the Pacific for 4 wins and 2 losses (123 pts for & 73 pts against)

Won 50 – 6       Tonga

Won 15 – 6       Fijian President XV

Won 10 – 3       Fiji

Lost 10 – 30     Hurricane Schools

Won 30 – 10     Bay of Plenty Under 18

Lost 8 – 18        New Zealand

2005/06 TOUR OF IRELAND AND THE UK

2005 Australian Schoolboys: Patrick McCutcheon Captain, with 14 Wallabies: Kurtley Beale, Peter Betham, Quade Cooper, Ben Daley, Will Genia, James Hanson, Christian Lealiifano, Patrick McCabe, Ben Lucas, Patrick McCutcheon, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Lachlan Turner, Tetera Faulkner

  • 10 matches in the UK with 7 wins and 3 losses (321 pts for & 143 pts against).

Won 103 – 5     Japan High Schools

Won 43 – 6        Samoa

Lost 19 – 22      New Zealand

Won 26 – 12     England Regional Academy Under 18

Won 24 – 12     England

Lost 7 – 14        Welsh Regional Under 19

Lost 7 – 27       Wales Under 19

Won 24 – 16     Munster Schools

Won 51 – 18     Ireland Under 19 A

Won 17 – 11     Ireland Under 19

NOTE TO READERS – WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

All efforts have been made to present a detailed and accurate record of players and events. However, please advise us of any corrections or additions that you feel should be made to this or any article.

Email: The Editor – [email protected]


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The Australian Schools Rugby Union (ASRU) is an independent, incorporated, not-for-profit association established in 1971. It is run by volunteer members of the teaching profession and professionals who believe rugby has a unique ethos and benefits that contribute to the broader education of young people.

The ARSU is responsible for implementing, administering, coordinating, organising and controlling all projects and activities relating to all rugby union activities in Australia at the school level, and being the official link between schools rugby and Rugby Australia. The primary responsibilities of the ASRU are the annual Australian Schools Rugby Championships, the selection of the Australian Schoolboys and Schoolgirl Teams, the selection of Australian coaches and support staff and the arranging and delivering of international tours.

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