Dick Tooth born 1929 is an Australian former rugby union footballer of the 1950s. He represented for the Wallabies in ten Test matches and nineteen total appearances and was Australian captain on two occasions. He resided at St Andrew's College while studying at Sydney University.[2] His club rugby was played with the Sydney University Football Club and later with Randwick in the Shute Shield. He practised as an orthopaedic surgeon[3] and was a sports medicine pioneer.[4][5][6]

Dick Tooth
Birth nameRichard Murray Tooth
Date of birth (1929-09-21) 21 September 1929 (age 90)
Place of birthBombala, New South Wales, Australia
SchoolNewcastle Boys' High School
UniversityUniversity of Sydney[1] MB BS (1955)
Occupation(s)medical practitioner
Rugby union career
Position(s) Versatile back
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Sydney Uni
Rosslyn Park (UK)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1950-57  Australia 10 21

Early life and educationEdit

Richard Murray Tooth was born in Bombala and his family relocated to Newcastle when he was seven years of age.[7] He attended Newcastle Boys' High School and represented the school in rugby league, swimming (member of the 1943 Farlow Cup winning team) and athletics (member of the 1943 winning teams, CHS Juvenile Shield, Kerr and Lintott Cups).[8] An all-round schoolboy athlete, he swam in the summer with the Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club.[9]

While studying science at the University of Sydney and domiciled at St Andrew's College, Tooth played inter-collegiate rugby and grade rugby for the University. In 1949 he switched to medicine and at the same time cemented a spot in Sydney's University's 2nd grade side. From there he was selected in an Australian Universities XV who met a New Zealand Universities side for a three match series in 1949.[7]

Representative careerEdit

In 1950 he was a regular first grader at University, was coached by former Wallaby Joe Kraefft and played against a visiting British Isles side. In 1951 he was selected for New South Wales and made his debut for Australia with three Test appearances against the All Blacks at five-eighth marking the experienced All Black fly-half Laurie Haig.[10]

He focussed on his studies for the next couple of years but in 1954 was back in the national side in a series of games against the visiting Fijians playing in one Test at fullback and another at centre. In 1955 he was selected in the Wallaby touring party to New Zealand captained by his University colleague John Solomon. He appeared in twelve of the thirteen tour games at either fullback or fly-half and had a sound tour.[7]

In 1957 he captained the Wallabies on two occasion when the All Blacks toured Australia. It was a surprise when at the end of that season and as the current Australian captain, he was not selected in the 27 man Wallaby side to tour Britain, Ireland and France. Howell reports that his omission defied explanation given his positional versatility but Tooth took it in his stride and travelled himself to the United Kingdom at that time to continue his medical studies.[7] While there he captained the Rosslyn Park club side in England, played for Middlesex and while a resident at a Belfast Hospital was selected in the invitational side the North of Ireland Wolfhounds.

Orthopaedic SurgeonEdit

Tooth helped pioneer arthroscopic surgery in Australia.[6] In 1971, he performed the first full knee reconstruction in Australia; his patient was Johnny Warren, captain of the Socceroos who went on to captain them to the 1974 World Cup.[4][5]

Family LifeEdit

In 1956 he married Marianne, the elder daughter of the Consul-General for Sweden, Ivar Stenstrom.[11][12] Their daughter,[13] Liane Tooth, is a double Olympic gold medallist.

His nephew Tim Walsh was a first grade rugby player with Leeds Carnegie and made a number of representative appearances for Australia at Rugby Sevens.[14][15]

Preceded by
Alan Cameron
Australian national rugby union captain
Succeeded by
Bob Davidson


  1. ^ "St Andrew's College Wallabies". Planet Rugby. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  2. ^ http://www.standrewscollege.edu.au/?/Friends_And_Alumni/Notable_Alumni
  3. ^ Tucker, Jim (16 April 2004). "'Doc' has medicine to remedy Reds pack". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane) (Generic Tabloid). p. 8.
  4. ^ a b Mossop, Brian (27 April 2002). "A game cursed Warren's heartfelt lament". Gold Coast Bulletin. p. 126. Warren, who in 1971 underwent the first full knee reconstruction surgery in Australia – performed, somewhat ironically, by a former Wallaby captain, Dick Tooth ... .
  5. ^ a b Masters, Roy (23 August 1997). "World At Their Feet". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 54. Warren, the first Australian to have a knee re-construction when Dr Dick Tooth operated on him the day of his 28th birthday
  6. ^ a b Bell, Glennys (18 January 1999). "Quick Fix". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 11. Dr Brett Courtenay, a visiting orthopaedic surgeon at St Vincent's Hospital in Darlinghurst, has seen the difference arthroscopic surgery has made to people's lives, since he was among the first orthopaedic surgeons to perform the operation as an assistant in the early 1980s to Dr Dick Tooth, who helped pioneer the operation in Australia.
    As an international rugby union player who captained the Wallabies, Tooth had more than an academic interest in knee damage. Torn ligaments had put an end to the careers of many sports champions.
  7. ^ a b c d Howell pp153-4
  8. ^ Armitage, Audrey (1983). Newcastle High School : the first 75 years. Hamilton, N.S.W.: 75th Anniversary Committee, Newcastle. p. 192. ISBN 0-9592118-0-2.
  9. ^ Connell, Tim (7 June 2010). "Reeling in ghosts of lifesavers". The Newcastle Herald. Newcastle, New South Wales. p. 62. Rugby league and union greats Clive Churchill and Dick Tooth both pulled on the Cooks Hill Speedos
  10. ^ http://www.scrum.com/australia/rugby/player/5428.html
  11. ^ Index of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Government of New South Wales. Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. 7429/1956: TOOTH, Richard Murray and STENSTROM, Marianne Hedvig M
  12. ^ "SOCIAL JOTTINGS". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 25 April 1956. p. 28. Retrieved 23 July 2011. CONSUL-GENERAL FOR SWEDEN, Mr. Ivar Stenstrom, escorts his elder daughter, Marianne, into St. Philip's, Church Hill, for her wedding with Dr. Richard Tooth. The bride's attendants are (from left) Mrs. Ian Curlewis, Maud Stenstrom, and Mrs. Max Elliott.
  13. ^ Tony Megahey; Peter Kogoy (11 December 1988). "Sport". Sun Herald. Sydney. p. 99.
  14. ^ http://www.leedscarnegie.co.uk/index_850D96C9F43B43BE932B7874FE616C1C.htm[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Mottram, Ben (27 June 2004). "Rugby Union – Walsh aims to be Bees master". Sunday Mercury. Birmingham, England. p. 67.


  • Howell, Max (2005) Born to Lead – Wallaby Test Captains, Celebrity Books, Auckland NZ