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November 23 , 2009

Wallaby Warrior

The World War I diaries of Australia's only British Lion


Tom Richards is the only Australian-born Test rugby player to have played for both Australia and the British Lions. When the Australian team won the Gold Medal for rugby at the 1908 Olympic Games, the London Times pronounced: 'If ever the Earth had to select a Rugby Football team to play against Mars, Tom Richards would be the first player chosen.'
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With an introduction by leading Australian rugby writer Greg Growden, Richards's diaries offer wonderful insights into his extraordinary sporting life, but more importantly provide perceptive and acute observations of the brutality and the humanity he observed on the front lines of World War I. His diaries are a revealing and very personal account of what occurred throughout the Gallipoli campaign and then the Western Front, where he received a Military Cross for his courage under German fire. As a great observer of human tragedy and frailties, Richards is acerbic in his opinions and often critical of his superiors and fellow soldiers, repeatedly finding fault with the British in charge. But it is his vivid descriptions of the many other characters who crossed his path that confirm this to be a significant contribution to our understanding of the Great War.

Wallaby Warrior is a rich and intimate observation of life from a very different time by one of Australia's greatest rugby players, and the man after whom the trophy for rugby union tests between Australia and the British Lions is named.
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