William Robert James Scott

Australia Military Forces


BIRTH: 18 June 1883
Newcastle, NSW
DEATH: 14 May 1920 Newcastle Hospital, late of Carrington
DEATH: 14 May 1920
Newcastle Hospital, late of Carrington


RESIDENCE: Bourke St, Carrington, NSW


  • Northern Suburbs RU (Newcastle) 1906, 1907
  • Newcastle RL 1908, 1909
  • Newcastle RL v New Zealand All Blacks RU 1909
  • Wests RL First Grade 1909


Player # 48 is listed as W. Scott in Wests First Grade Master List, while player #77 is listed as Scott in the same list. The Rugby League Project has no player by the name of Scott but has a P Scotten who supposedly played for Wests in 1909 and 1910. The Rugby League Project has effectively combined these players and adopted an incorrect name. Wests players #48 and #77 are not the same player and there is no P. Scotten that played for Wests.

William Scott was not a “registered” Wests player. However he did play one First Grade game for Wests against Newcastle in Newcastle on 26 June 1909. William Scott was a Newcastle player whose intention was to not play at all on that day as he was nursing a sore shoulder which was injured in Newcastle’s win over Glebe on the previous Saturday. William also played in a Newcastle v New Zealand All Blacks match three days before  the Glebe game. Another Newcastle player, E. Brien, was also rested for the Wests match as he was suffering from influenza. Brien didn’t take to the field that day.

William Scott played four games in First Grade with Newcastle in 1908. In 1909 in addition to the one game with Wests, he was in the Newcastle First Grade team for seven out of the ten rounds and then played in Newcastle’s semi final loss to the premiers, South Sydney.

William Scott died in 1920 and in the Newcastle Club’s annual report in 1921, it is noted that William was a member of the team that founded the league game in the District, and was a life member.

So the question is why was William Scott playing with Western Suburbs? There appeared to be no intention for William Scott to play with Wests. On the morning of the match, the Wests team list reported in the Newcastle Herald was as follows: Back, T Phelan; Three Quarters, Gormley, Medcalf, McFadyen, Spears; Halves, Fletcher, Wallis; Forwards, Ellis, Courtney, Shaw, Luhr, Mead (C), Herington.

However on the following Monday, the Newcastle Herald printed the team list that actually played. C. Clifford replaced Tom Phelan at fullback, Ray Gormley had been shifted to halfback replacing Claude Wallis, Ern Holloway had been brought into the side on the wing, William Wenban had been brought into the three quarters to replace Bill Medcalf, Tedda Courtney, Sam Shaw and Charles Luhr were replaced by Bill Elliott, Richard Casey and William Scott in the forwards

Six of the original players selected withdrew from the match, and while Wests were able to replace four of them with reserve players, the team was effectively two players short. Wests were a long way from home and so it was not possible to find  replacement players in Sydney at short notice. To make up the numbers it appears that Wests “borrowed” two players to ensure that they had a full complement. One of these players was William Scott.

The second player was C. Clifford. A search has been undertaken of Newcastle and Hunter newspapers from that period and he does not appear to have been a local player. A broader search found a player with the surname of Clifford playing for Western Suburbs Rugby Union 2nd grade in 1910. This player was an outside back but nothing more is known about him. Could he have made the trip north with a few league mates  and then been roped into playing? The player Clifford , like William Scott only played this one game for Wests. In the match report he was quite prominent and no doubt was a good player. Why he cannot be easily identified remains a mystery.

1909 was a difficult year for Wests, and at times putting a full team on the field was problematic. In the last round Wests “borrowed” four players from Newtown, (See players #48, #49, #50 and #51) as they only had nine players turn up at the ground. However, the Newcastle match appears somewhat different as Wests were able to cover four of the withdrawals with their own players. Why the six players originally selected did not play is unknown.

William Scott enlisted with the AIF in April 1916 and was posted to the 2nd Reinforcements, 34th Battalion. He embarked from Sydney in September 1916 and arrived in England at the end of October. The English weather was not favourable to William Scott and by December 1916 he was in hospital with influenza, followed by bouts of asthma. It is noted that William, back in Newcastle, was a member of the Coal Trimmers Federal Union, so he was likely to have been engaged in work that would have exacerbated any lung problems. As a result of his asthma, William was returned to Australia in May 1917.

William Scott died at Newcastle Hospital in 1920 at the age of 37. He left a widow and four children, the youngest being three months old. In his obituary it was noted that he never really recovered from the sickness he had in England.

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