1987: A sending off that made Wallaby history

By Winston Aldworth

English referee Fred Howard had no hesitation in sending David Codey off for trampling on Welshmen at a ruck.
Photo / Allsport
English referee Fred Howard had no hesitation in sending David Codey off for trampling on Welshmen at a ruck. Photo / Allsport

The Wallabies arrived at the first World Cup as favourites and were determined to make history. Sadly for them, the only notable history they made on their way to losing the third-place playoff came when flanker David Codey became the first Australian to be shown a red card in a test match.

English referee Fred Howard warned Codey for trampling on Welshmen at a ruck within the first minute of the playoff. When he did it again in the fifth minute, Codey was gone.

His teammates were horrified and told Howard he had busted the wrong man.

Herald columnist Andrew Slack was the Wallaby captain that day. "Codey rushed into a ruck and did what most forwards did in those days: he used his feet to get rid of the opposing flotsam and jetsam hanging around the ball," recalls Slack. "The ball was definitely in the vicinity and although Codey's rucking might have been a bit 'up and downish' when he first arrived, I thought Fred Howard's send-off was very, very harsh."

Nonetheless, the Alan Jones-coached Australians were sharp enough lead 21-16 with a couple of minutes to play. Welsh first-five Jonathan Davies hoisted the ball skyward for everyone to chase. In the chaos that followed, winger Adrian Hadley scored in the corner, fullback Paul Thorburn landed a tough conversion for the 22-21 win.

"I don't recall our performance as being particularly memorable," says Slack. "None of us wanted to be there playing for consolation prizes, there was a little bit of dissatisfaction with the way things had been done over the campaign ... we had quite a few injuries, and it was a poorly picked team. We got close because they weren't great and we weren't completely hopeless."

1987
Video: Great World Cup moments - 1987
In the beginning: Remembering our last victory drink
How we won: The All Blacks - Getting the nation back into black
Setting the scene: Long road to global rugby supremacy
A sending off that made Wallaby history
All Black memories: 'Dawn of a new era'
Tournament star: Michael Jones - Keeping up with Jones
Tournament action: Fans' lukewarm start fast turned to fervour

- NZ Herald

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