Obituary: Bill Walsh – Thames Valley Representative #477
Obituary – Bill Walsh
Thames Valley Representative #477
Once again we are sad to have to record the passing of another member of the famous 1962 Thames Valley team. W.C. “Bill” Walsh died in Te Aroha on Tuesday 28th September. He only missed one season of first-class rugby from 1961 until 1972 and by the end of 1966 had played 55 games in succession as a mid-field back. He then went on to play another twenty games for the Valley as a loose forward.
There is no better evidence of his ability, loyalty and dedication to rugby than the following anecdote:
In 1969 Te Aroha were playing Thames in a Peace Cup elimination match at Rhodes Park. The game kicked off at 3pm but extra time was needed and it did not end until 5.22pm. Bill scored four tries in this great tussle and it was the fourth one which clinched the game for Te Aroha. After playing his heart out there was no time for Bill to participate in the after-match festivities – no, as the Waihou captain, he hot footed it back home in order to train with his club team.
Bill Walsh’s first representative honours came when he was selected for the 1957 and 1958 Thames Valley Third Grade teams (In 1957 the recently departed Gary Higgins was a team mate). In 1959 he moved up to the Valley Juniors and in 1960, the Colts. His club at this time was Te Aroha Combined and he played half back as well as a midfielder. His first senior representative game was against Auckland on 19th July 1961 when he marked the future All Black wing, Malcolm Dick. Later in the season Thames Valley lost 6-21 to King Country but it was Walsh and Higgins who scored the Valley’s points with a try each. The following year came the famous victory over Australia when the under manned Valley team took out the honours in a thrilling game. In 1969 Bill helped Thames Valley maintain its unbeaten record against overseas team when they defeated Tonga 12-10 at Te Aroha.
Other Highlights for W C Walsh
- Playing against Waikato the day they had the 5 Clarke brothers in their team.
- Representing Thames Valley/Counties against the 1966 Lions
- Scoring 9 tries for Thames Valley
- Playing 75 games for Thames Valley and being 16th on the list of the players with the most appearances for his province.
- His only Ranfurly Shield match was against Auckland in 1962 when Walsh marked Walsh – Bill for the Valley and All Black, Pat for Auckland.
- In helping to keep Thames Valley’s record against overseas’ teams he had the distinction of playing as a back against Australia and a forward against Tonga.
- After Te Aroha Combined folded he joined Waihou and immediately helped them win the Thames Valley Championship in 1964.
- Captain of Waihou for several seasons and later coach of the senior team.
- Playing Peace Cup Rugby for Te Aroha
- Beating Australia (with 14 men for most of the game) and sharing great comradeship with his team mates for almost 60 years.
Thames Valley Third Grade Team 1958
On his left is Neil Cummings who played one game for the Valley seniors in 1962 and who recently passed away.
Front right is, Owen Passau who later played for Waihou and Valley seniors. Alongside him is his dad well known Thames Valley administrator, Bernie Passau.
So, we farewell Bill as the final whistle has blown on his earthly pursuits. He now qualifies for the Celestial Sevens team with his team mates- Jim Mita, Ron Kerby, Gary Higgins, Jim Darrah, Rex Holden and Kevin Barry.
The Thames Valley Rugby Union offers sincere sympathy to Colleen and family, plus Bill’s many friends.