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'Fast, physically impressive and a tough centre': Cyril Towers was the godfather of running rugby

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Roar Guru
8th June, 2024
19

The late Cyril Towers and running rugby go hand in hand with the ethos of the Randwick District Rugby Union Football Club.

The philosophy was based on an attacking mindset with the main intention to get the ball to the wings.

What this does is create and develop players who have only attack on their minds and are drawcards for spectators.

To have a whole club base their existence on this credo is exciting and presents rugby in its best light, as opposed to ten-man rugby and a kicking philosophy.

In Cyril Towers’ Day kicking was frowned upon and I believe that unofficially if you did kick the ball, it was a penalty to the other side.

According to Randwick Rugby’s website Towers was “the absolute godfather of this club and of the attacking running rugby style and mindset we adopt to this day”.

There is a lesson for today’s players who use a driving maul from a lineout to score tries, when a better, more attractive way of scoring a try would be to shift the ball to the wingers.

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Towers was known as the “father of running rugby” and influenced noted rugby coach Geoff Mould who coached Mark Ella.

When you see the calibre of the Randwick Galloping Greens backline inducted into the Hall of Fame Team named in 2010, you get an idea of the attacking philosophy ingrained into generational players:

#9 Ken Catchpole
#10 Mark Ella
#11 David Campese
#12 John Brass
#13 Cyril Towers
#14 Alan Morton
#15 Russell Fairfax

Cyril Towers was born in Mansfield, Victoria 1906 and died in 1985 aged seventy-eight in Randwick, Sydney.

His schooling was at Roma High School, Waverley College and Randwick Boys High. At the early age of nine, his father was killed at Gallipoli and he eventually settled in Sydney after living in Melbourne and Queensland.

While at school he came under the influence of coaches Oates Taylor and Arthur Hennessey, also future Wallaby Wally Meagher.

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His club rugby career with Randwick spanned from 1926 to 1940 with 233 first-grade appearances.

With Queensland rugby folding in 1919 due to the impact of World War 1 and eventually returning in 1928, New South Wales matches were decreed as official Test matches. Towers made his debut in 1926 against the touring All Blacks as a 19-year-old.

A NSW tour to the British Isles, France and Canada followed for Towers at age 21, where he was the equal top try scorer. Duck shooting with King George V at Sandringham was a highlight of the tour.

His reputation continued to grow on a tour of New Zealand in 1928 where he was the top points scorer and was acknowledged by Chester and McMillan as being the “best centre in the world” and one of the great Australian players of all time.

With Queensland returning to ensure a full-strength Wallabies team in 1929 the side beat the All Blacks in convincing fashion 3-0, captained by Tom Lawton Snr.

Further series against Great Britain and New Zealand followed in 1930 and 31.

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Being a strong character Cyril Towers was left out of the 1933 South African tour due to his falling out with manager Wally Matthews but returned in 1934 to play the All Blacks again.

Beating the All Blacks in the 1929 whitewash was a career highlight, but so was the defeat of the Springboks in 1937, a match where he scored all the points and was resolute on defence.

War disrupted the Wallaby tour to the UK in 1939 with no matches played, a blessing in disguise for Towers who was controversially omitted again from the party.

His career ended in 1940 with a transition to rugby broadcasting with the ABC, becoming known as the “voice of rugby”.

He was honoured with induction into the Australian Rugby Hall of Fame in 2006 and a plaque at the Sydney Cricket Ground’s Walk of Honour remembers his career.

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A fast, physically impressive and tough centre Cyril Towers was a sporting character who was also gifted with oratory skills and had a sophisticated sense of humour.

A man who influenced his son Tom and many others with the gift of running rugby.

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