ARU MOURNS THE PASSING OF ROBERT ‘DANNY' KAY
Australian Rugby Union is today mourning the loss of post war Wallaby, Robert ‘Danny' Kay, who passed away over the weekend aged 75.
Robert C Kay gained the nickname ‘Danny' because of Hollywood comedian - actor ‘Danny' Kay.
A career soldier, ‘Danny' was also sometimes known as ‘sapper'.
Kay played for the Footscray Club in Melbourne and later for Randwick in Sydney.
A centre, he was 23 years of age, a compact 170cm and weighed just 76kg when selected out of the blue for the 1958 tour of New Zealand.
Kay was the first Victorian selected for Australia in 20 years.
Jack Pollard wrote of Kay in Australian Rugby: "He won his place in the 1958 tour of New Zealand with strong displays for Victoria in that he showed a grasp of the basic skills, proved a good link in the centres with his wingers and tackled heavily."
‘Danny' became the first Victorian since 1938 to play for Australia when he joined Beres Elwood in the centres for the second Test at Christchurch and noted New Zealand critic Terry McLean compared Kay's performance with a German band, for "he popped up everywhere."
Kay was not selected for the opening match of the 1958 tour against Hawkes Bay but was in the centres with Tom Baxter for the second encounter against Wanganui - a match won 11-9 by Australia. Two games later, against Nelson, Kay scored a try in a 20-11 win.
Although playing well, he was not seriously considered for the first Test where Australia lost 3-25.
However, further strong performances led to Kay winning selection for the second Test against New Zealand. The Wallabies caused an upset, winning 6-3.
Unfortunately for Kay, an ankle injury sustained ruled him out of certain selection for the final Test against the All Blacks.
In 1959 the British Isles toured Australia, and Kay played against them for Victoria who were crushed 18-53.
‘Danny' was then selected for the second Test against the Lions after Jack Potts had to withdraw. Australia lost to the Lions 3-24.
That was the final time Robert ‘Danny' Kay would appear for the Wallabies, but it was not the end of his career, as he lined up for a combined Victoria-South Australia team that played New Zealand in 1960.
Outside of Rugby, Kay was a career soldier, a 6th Intake Army Apprentice C & J, who served in Vietnam from March 1969 to March 1970. He retired as a Warrant Officer 1.
Robert ‘Danny' Kay will be remembered at a funeral service later this week.
A centre from the Footscray Rugby Union Football Club, Victoria Robert Kay had played two test matches for Australia in 1958 and 1959 before joining the Randwick DRUFC for the first half of the 1961 season. He played only 8 games for the Club, including six in First Grade. He scored 6 tries (18 points) of which 3 tries (9 points) were in the Firsts.
Following the pre-season trials R Kay was graded in the Reserve Grade team for the first two competition rounds against Eastern Suburbs and Parramatta, both won by Randwick with Kay scoring tries in each match. In round 3 he was selected in the First XV for the match against a very strong Gordon team. Randwick won this encounter 22-6 scoring 6 tries to 1 with Kay scoring a try in his initial First Grade game with Randwick.
The team listed in the Rugby News for the Match of the Day Randwick v Gordon was:
Backs: I Mackay J Browne R Simpson R Kay M Cleary A Moore K Catchpole (vc)
Forwards: T Reid R Outterside (c) E Heinrich J Weber R Thornett B Gollins P Johnson W Outterside
Leading the competition after 12 rounds this team then lost Robert Kay to a military posting and six others to the Touring
Wallaby Team to South Africa. Five losses followed and so did a chance at the 1961 premiership.
In his article for The Sun, Friday, 12 June 1959, the day before the Second Test Australia v British & Irish Lions sportswriter E W Kann wrote of the Lions;
"Their backs, the same as in the First Test, look too speedy, tricky and enterprising for the Australian backs, though the latter are a fast set."
Eddie Kann then went on to add the cautionary note;
"However, the Australian three-quarter line is likely to be harder to breach with the inclusion of the Victorian Robert Kay, noted for his tigerish tackling."
Strong praise for a player who stood at 170cm and weighed around 76kg.
Jack Pollard, the acclaimed rugby historian, also made mention in Australian Rugby 1958 of Kay's heavy tackling.