History re-visited

Spectators at the TOFOG Sportsground in Orara Valley this weekend will most probably see the fixture between Malta and Sydney University as another entertaining sevens match on a day that will see some of the world?s best rugby league players take to the field on Australia?s east coast.

Little may many know that the match will be of plenty of significance to the officials of both teams taking part in the fourteen-minute encounter, including Malta coach Joe Grima.

?yes, I?ll be telling my team about Ray Morris?

For it was the languishing Sydney University club that an in-form centre three-quarter by the name of Ray Morris was selected from, back in 1933 to represent Australia on the 1933/34 Kangaroo Tour.

Following his first five seasons with the Western Suburbs club and plying his trade in the colours of the blue and gold of ?the students? for only the fifth time, Morris aged 25 was set to become the first international in the team?s short and illustrious history.

While to this day, Morris remains officially recognised as Sydney University?s only ever international, Ray?s fortunes lasted little longer than they had begun.

??forceful player, dashing in attack and strong in defence? were the descriptions of Morris by the Sydney press.

On Tuesday July 4 1933, Morris boarded ?the Manunda? at Sydney?s Darling Harbour and was quoted with a smile saying he was ?looking forward to a wonderful experience?

Departing ?the Manunda? at Melbourne the Kangaroos boarded the ?Jervis Bay?, which sailed on to Adelaide, Perth and Sri Lanka?s city of Colombo and by their arrival for an exhibition game in Egypt on July 29, news was radioed from the Kangaroo camp that all the party was in good health apart from Ray Morris, who was detained in the ship?s hospital for regular treatment of an ear infection that it was thought Morris had contracted while bathing in the ship?s pool.

On the 10th of August, ?Jervis Bay? doctors radioed ahead to Malta requesting that an ear specialist meet the ship upon its arrival in the tiny Mediterranean island.

Accompanied by a team visitor in Sam Haron, Morris remained in Malta for treatment.

It was during the celebration of a teammate?s birthday as ?the Manunda? coasted around Spain that news of Morris? death came through via a radio transmission.

Seventy-two years later, Morris? rugby league career is re-lived when his club; Sydney University takes on the Malta Knights who are the representative team for the island nation in which he passed away.

?the story of Ray Morris shows the quality of the player with a twist of irony? Malta coach Joe Grima tells.

Significant is the co-incidence that of 27 other teams, Malta is drawn against the Sydney University club.

The historical importance doesn?t go unfazed with Sydney University coach Tim White ready to tell his boys the story of Ray Morris.

?I?ll be letting the boys know about it? says White.

A classy rugby league player and renowned gentlemen at that, his traits will be seen again throughout the Malta v Sydney University fixture.

Orara Valley Sevens Group D Malta Knights VS Sydney University TOFOG Sportsground Kick-Off 2:40pm

(Thanks to Sean Fagan of rl1908.com for providing additional research and information on Ray Morris)

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