ANZAC Legends: Daniel Carroll

Thu, 22/04/2021, 06:00 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee and Australian Daniel Carroll in the American Army serving as Lieutenant during WWI. Photo: ARU Archive.

Ahead of ANZAC Round, Rugby.com.au along with Honorary Statistician Matthew Alvarez has taken a look back at the incredible efforts by Wallabies who served, focusing on Daniel Carroll - the Olympian who won over the USA and Australia.

Danny Carroll has the unique distinction of winning Olympic Gold Medals for two different countries – Australia in 1908 at London and the United States of America in 1920 at Antwerp. In addition, he coached the successful American team four years later in the Paris Olympics.

Born in February 1892 in Melbourne, Carroll moved to Sydney with his parents and attended St Aloysius College, where he played for the School from 1903 to 1904.

In 1908, the 18-year-old Carroll was playing for the St George Rugby Club as a winger and impressed as a real speedster, getting the attention of Australian forward, Harold Judd, who was rehabbing after a nasty injury.

Judd returned as captain of St George in 1908, took Carroll under his wing and recommended him to Iggy O’Donnell as a candidate for the tour of the British Isles being organised by the New South Wales Rugby Union.

After promising performances in these matches, Carroll played in the four interstate matches against Queensland and was regarded as a certain selection for the touring team, seemingly sealing his spot after a dominant display against Queensland, scoring a sizzling try and being just held up over the line on another occasion.

Carroll was selected for Australia for both matches of their tour to England in 1908.

However, on reaching England, Carroll was not chosen for the opening game against Devon where ‘Boxer’ Russell and ‘Darb’ Hickey were the wingers; however, eventually got his opportunity in the second match against Gloucester.

Carroll impressed the British press with his blistering pace as the tourists were now known as the 'Wallabies’ instead of the ‘New South Wales Touring Team’.

He played in every game up to the clash for the Olympic Gold Medal, for which he was also chosen.

Owing to France’s withdrawal from the Olympic Rugby Tournament, Australia played Cornwall, the UK representatives, in the final at the Olympic Stadium. Cornwall.

Carroll had an outstanding game, scoring two tries and the Wallabies won 32-3, presented with an Olympic certificate before they were presented with gold medals by the Reverend RS de Courcy Laffin.

Australian team photograph Olympic Games London
Australian team photograph Olympic Games London

After the team’s return to Australia, most of the Wallabies continued playing rugby and in June 1909, Carroll played for the Wallabies in a specially organised match against New South Wales. Carroll scored two tries in the 22-16 win by the Wallabies.

In 1912, The NSWRU decided to organise a tour of the United States and Canada, with Carroll selected in the Waratahs team to tour North America.

Carroll was one of only four survivors from the 1908 Wallabies to make the tour and his speed and acceleration on the left wing made him one of the stars of the tour. He scored a try in the international against the United States of America to give the Waratahs a close 12-8 victory.

The freshness and vitality of the United States appealed to Carroll and he remained behind at the end of the tour, enrolling at Stanford University at Palo Alto in California to study geology.

When the USA entered the War, Carroll enlisted in the US Army and served as a lieutenant. He was wounded in 1918 and found himself in Britain in 1919, awaiting repatriation.

This proved convenient for the AIF and they recruited Carroll to play for them in the King’s Cup Tournament.

Carroll found old team-mates among the AIF team, including 'Darb Hickey’, who was on the Wallaby tour in 1908 and Bill Watson, who toured North America with Carroll in 1912.

Australian AIF team in 1919, with Dan Carroll pictured in the front row with his son on his knee. Carroll paid his own fare to London to play in the Kings Cup to celebrate the WWI victory. Photo: ARU Archive.
Australian AIF team in 1919, with Dan Carroll pictured in the front row with his son on his knee. Carroll paid his own fare to London to play in the Kings Cup to celebrate the WWI victory. Photo: ARU Archive.

The AIF defeated the eventual winners, the New Zealanders, but lost to the Mother Country and the RAF early in the tournament, with Carroll returned to the USA to complete his degree.

In the United States, Carroll became captain/coach of the United States rugby team that won the Gold Medal at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, making him the first rugby player to win two gold medals at the Olympics for two different countries.

He remains just the second athlete in Olympic history to achieve this.

Four years later, Carroll coached the successful United States team at the Paris Olympics.

Carroll continued his interest in rugby and promoted the game in San Francisco., eventually completing his degree in geology at Stanford and moved into the oil industry, becoming a successful oil company executive and died in 1955 in San Francisco.

Danny Carroll played in two Test matches at a time when Test matches were few and far between. His deeds for the Wallabies and Waratahs, as well as his American rugby experiences, labeled him a wonderful footballer who used his natural talents to excel at the game.

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