Vale Dr Richard 'Dick' Tooth
Vale Dr Richard ‘Dick’ Tooth
Former Wallaby captain, Waratah, Galloping Green, all-round sportsman, pioneering orthopaedic surgeon and devoted family man, Dr Richard ‘Dick’ Tooth, died on Wednesday evening aged 90.
Originally from Bombala and then a product of Newcastle Boys High School, Dick was awarded an academic scholarship to study Medicine at Sydney University. He played rugby for Uni for many years, until seeing the myrtle green light and joining Randwick in 1956. He was already a Wallaby by then, but played 19 First Grade games for us in his two seasons at Coogee and was our captain in 1957.
Dick was selected for NSW in 1950 and for Australia in 1951, becoming the 383rd Wallaby in the process. He went on to play 10 Test matches and was captain twice, both against the All Blacks in 1957, making him the 41st Wallaby test captain.
One of rugby’s greatest mysteries is why, as the incumbent Australian captain, he was not selected in the 27-man Wallaby tour of Britain, Ireland and France in 1957. His omission was and to this day is gobsmacking, considering his utility value as a five-eighth, centre and fullback.
He moved to Britain to further his medical career, playing First Division in England and Northern Ireland, before returning to Australia to coach at Uni. He became a pioneer in Orthopaedic Surgery and was instrumental in the development of less intrusive arthroscopic surgery in Australia.
Most notably, Dick also performed the first ever full knee reconstruction in NSW on a famous rugby league international, Johnny Greaves. He also operated on Australian soccer legend, Johnny Warren enabling him to continue playing and captain the Socceroos into the 1974 World Cup.
Dick was also a single figure golfer, an A-grade tennis player, represented NSW in surf lifesaving and squash. He was also a Sydney-Hobart sailor as well as being an accomplished pilot. It seems there was absolutely nothing this man couldn’t do – he was straight out of the Boys Own Manual!
Dick was revered by his former teammates in both sport and medicine and will be sadly missed. Despite his considerable talents and success, Dick was reputed to be an extremely humble man and is undoubtedly one of the great Australians, who has left an amazing legacy.
Our deepest condolences go to his wife Marianne and his children Robyn, Chris, Liane and Kate who were at his Hunters Hill bedside with him when he passed away peacefully.
RIP Dick. God bless you, your family and many friends.