Try, try again

Herbert ‘Paddy’ Moran (SAC 1900) captained the Wallabies. Author, surgeon and cancer researcher, he is now in the NSW Waratahs’ Hall of Fame.

By Tim Quilty, College Archivist, St Aloysius’ College

A billboard outside a Sydney church referencing Matthew 21 many Easters ago, posed the question: “What would you do if Jesus returned tomorrow?” An impertinent graffitist scribbled underneath: “Move Campese to fullback and put him on the wing.” If Rugby is truly the game they play in Heaven, then Herbert ‘Paddy’ Moran (SAC 1900) would be a worthy captain-coach. 
 
His leadership skills and achievements went far beyond those he displayed as captain of the Wallabies. Dr Paddy Moran was also a renowned cancer researcher, President and long-serving office-bearer of the Old Boys’ Union, surgeon, Army medic, linguist, referee, author, coach of the St Aloysius’ First XV, lecturer and College benefactor.

He entered St Aloysius’ College at Bourke St, Surry Hills in 1897. By 1906 he was in his fourth year of Medicine and playing in the Sydney University First XV. It was asked, “How is it that Moran has jumped seemingly so suddenly into first-class rugby?” 

“Simply,” was the reply, “because he is the best forward we have in New South Wales.” 
 
This month (19 June), Dr Herbert Moran MB (Syd) FRCS (Edin) was elevated to the NSW Waratahs’ inaugural Hall of Fame. He had previously been inducted into the Wallabies’ Hall of Fame. Interestingly, it is recorded in the College Archives that in 1918, Paddy Moran “whose fame as a footballer is known to all, and who so successfully captained the Wallabies when they went to England on a career of conquest, has been created an Honorary Life Member of the NSW Rugby Union”. 

A composite photo of Herbert ‘Paddy’ Moran in his professional life (left) and in a Waratahs uniform (right).

Paddy captained the Wallabies in the successful 1908-09 tour of Britain and was celebrated for his outstanding leadership. Regrettably, it is all but forgotten that two other St Aloysius’ College Old Boys, Ed Mandible, who commenced at Bourke St in 1896 and Danny Carroll, who commenced in 1902, were also members of that Wallabies team. Yes, three St Aloysius’ College Old Boys playing in the same national team. Carroll was awarded two caps and later had the distinction of winning Olympic gold medals for two countries – Australia and the United States. In 1909 Ed Mandible was one of the fourteen Wallabies who switched to Rugby League. 
 
The calibre of the 1908-09 Wallaby team was evident in the presence of one of Australia’s greatest but least known sportsmen, Tom “Rusty” Richards. As well as being a Wallaby, Richards through circumstance had the unique distinction of also playing for the British Lions. In addition, he was a Manly lifesaver, Olympic gold medallist and an original ANZAC, having served at Gallipoli from 25 April 1915 until the evacuation. He went on to serve on the Western Front as a commissioned officer and was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery. While not an Aloysian, Richards’ inclusion in the team warrants mention.
 
Paddy Moran’s achievements on the rugby field often overshadowed his accomplishments in medical research, and his advocacy for changes to secondary education. While working in France and the United States, Dr Moran conducted vital research into the treatment of cancer using radium. With his enthusiasm for sport and education, Paddy Moran was an outspoken critic of many associated topics. He wrote in 1933, “The love of athleticism has passed all bounds. Our fathers would scarcely have believed it possible that boys leaving secondary school would become exponents of professional sport”. 
 
He wrote and spoke widely about his belief of a general failure of the education system in instilling a love of scholarship that went beyond secondary school. He was a vocal detractor of what he felt was “a subordination of all studies to the one end of public examination, resulting in many boys discarding the habit of study after secondary school”. 
 
When a Macquarie Street surgeon, he always found time to devote to the College, whether as President of the Old Boys’ Union, coach of the First XV, assisting at annual sports days, refereeing rugby games or addressing the senior students on “Hygiene. The Science of Health”. It was recorded that “Paddy Moran was one of our staunchest Old Boys”. 
 
For many years he presented the Dr H. Moran prize for Proficiency in Studies and Sport at the College’s annual Prizegiving. Sadly, after volunteering for the Royal Army Medical Corps while in England during the Second World War, Paddy Moran was himself diagnosed with cancer and died in 1945. He is buried in Cambridge, England.

This original version of this article was published in ‘The Gonzagan’, the weekly newsletter of St Aloysius’ College Milsons Point.

Banner image by allanswart, Canva.

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