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Locker Room: Jim Taylor notches 450 rugby games after submerging Wallabies tour

Canberra sport covered - From grassroots to gossip.

Who scored the first five-point try against the All Blacks? It's the Trivial Pursuit question that's never been asked. The answer can be found running out for his 450th game for the Royals in their fourth grade minor semi-final against Wests at Viking Park on Sunday at 10.25am. It's hooker-cum-prop Jim Taylor - the former emerging Wallaby, former ACT Kookaburras captain, multiple John I Dent premiership player and current Royals fourth grade captain-coach. His opponents and teammates form a who's who of Australian rugby. He played with World Cup winners John Eales, David Wilson and Jason Little in the 1990 emerging Wallabies and has stared down Phil Kearns when packing down a scrum. Taylor is a true one-club player, having first run out for the Royals in under-9s before becoming part of their five-straight first-grade  premierships in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The doctor of mathematics represented his country at schoolboy and under-21 level and played for Australia B. Then he was on the brink of playing Tests, making the emerging Wallabies tour of England, Holland, Italy, France and Spain. "I tend to think of it as a submerging Wallaby because all the other guys went upwards and I went backwards," Taylor said. He's played against the French, the British and Irish Lions and was on the end of a Greg Quinn pass to score the first five-pointer against the All Blacks. Now the 50-year-old is enjoying possibly his last season - and game - after hanging on to play with his oldest son Marc  this year. "We played at Trevino, the city on the coast opposite Venice. I remember we turned up at training and we'd forgotten the footballs so there was the Australian emerging Wallabies throwing shoes around at training," Taylor recalled. 

Bright season ahead for United

Expect Canberra United to direct traffic in some games this season, with a new “gekko green” away strip. The club has opted for a high visibility alternate strip after the FFA required them to have one for the seventh W-League season. The traditional green uniform doesn’t clash with any of the other seven clubs, but that didn’t matter – and a new fluoro green strip was born. Boss Heather Reid said the move was mainly for TV purposes where it’s harder to distinguish the dark green from say Melbourne Victory’s dark blue, but decisions would be made on when it’s worn in the coming weeks. “You’ll definitely be seeing it during the season,” she said. It’s certainly hard to miss. University of Canberra vice-chancellor Professor Stephen Parker came up with a marketing idea for the alternate strip after signing up as the shirt-front sponsor, declaring: “I’ll ride my bike in it.” Club patron Kate Lundy and keen sportswoman was also impressed by the unmissable top. “Everyone loves it,” Reid said. It could make its first appearance in round one for United’s TV game against the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Speight of kind acts

Ask anyone around Canberra and they will tell you Henry Speight is the nicest guy they have met. Having already paid for dinner for the ACT women's sevens team, running water for the Gungahlin Eagles and signing autographs for hours after the game, here's another to add to the list. Tennis ACT chief executive Ross Triffitt was raised in Fiji when his parents moved there for more than a decade. His late father started a book of history for the village on the Yasawa Islands and his mother Geraldine finished it. When Speight heard Triffitt and Geraldine were going to Fiji to present the book to the chief of Soso, the Brumbies flyer swung into action. He organised a signed Brumbies jersey, footballs, shorts and socks to be handed around to the village community of just 400 people. "Henry is a bloody legend," Triffitt said. There's no word whether Speight also donated to Triffitt's fundraising bid after making a bet that Nick Kyrgios would not beat Rafael Nadal, promising to get a zig-zag haircut like Kyrgios if he was wrong. Triffitt is trying to raise $10,000 for a Tennis ACT mini-bus. To donate, visit:

Family's heartache


Speight is Australian rugby's new cult hero. But there's one problem for the ''bro with the fro'' who's prepared to spill blood for Australia. The Department of Immigration won't allow his brother and sister to come into the country. In a bizarre ruling, Immigration is blocking Davila and Jerry Speight from seeing Henry in action. Speight has been living in Canberra for four years. But only older brother Sam, who is a British national, has seen him play rugby in Australia. Jerry and Davila both went to the Super Rugby final in New Zealand last year. But they have had two Australian visitor visa applications turned down because officials have deemed them a risk of becoming asylum seekers. Here's the response we got from Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office last week: "It would not be appropriate for the minister to comment on individual cases. Such applications are determined by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in accordance with their procedures."

Cavs secure gun four

Having decided on their protected players, the Canberra Cavalry are closing in on signing a starting pitcher from the Atlantic League. The Cavs have protected local stars Steven Kent and Robbie Perkins as well as Queensland pitchers Aaron Thompson and Steven Chambers. They cannot be poached by other Australian Baseball League clubs in the player draft, which will be held on August 14. Now they have gun starter Brian Grening working as a recruiter in the independent Atlantic League and he is close to signing another starting pitcher. The Cavs are also confident of picking up some "blue chip" local talent at the inaugural draft.

Mascots united

The tight-knit mascot community rallied to Brumby Jack's cause after the heartless NSW Waratahs forced our equine hero to sit in the Allianz Stadium crowd for the Super Rugby semi-final on Saturday night. First Greater Western Sydney's G-Man took to Twitter calling for mascot rights. "I saw Brumby Jack isn't allowed at the @NSWWaratahs game on Sat ... This makes me very sad #mascotrights #mascotsforall". Then the Canberra Cavalry's Sarge (pictured) blew his trumpet to back Brumby Jack. "I hope Brumby Jack shows TA MAN a thing or 2". Even Fox Sports commentator Sean Maloney joined the debate, voicing his concern about how the Tahs' decision could shatter the usually strong bond among mascots."I'd always feared this fiasco would drive a wedge through the mascot community. Irreversible damage." Let's hope time can heal all wounds.

Hockey star takes some stick

A selfie with the Queen isn’t the first time a Hockeyroos happy snap has gone viral. At the Women’s World Hockey League finals in Argentina last year, Crookwell product Emily Smith took a harmless pic with a police officer while wearing his hat. Almost instantly the picture spread on social media and landed all over the Argentina media, making Smith an instant celebrity. Cue the local police commissioner coming in to lecture the Hockeyroos about taking photos with authority figures in Argentina. “We were walking down the street and people would give me chocolates and say ‘Thanks for looking after our town’, Smith said in Glasgow this week. “This girl gave me a police hat, saying ‘Officer Smith Officer Smith we got you a present’. They’d recognised me from the paper.”

White's breakout game

Crookwell girl Kellie White scored a goal in the Hockeyroos' first match at the Commonwealth Games but her first day wasn’t as memorable as her first game. Barely an hour after arriving in the Commonwealth Games village White found herself locked in one of the Aussie bathrooms. After she bashed on the door and yelled for help team manager Ben Tarbox came to the rescue. Tarbox broke the door down and rescued the striker, who went on to score in Australia’s opening-day 4-0 win over Malaysia. We’re told the door has since been fixed.

Veteran's world record

Marie Larson plays her first hockey game as an 80-year-old today, having quietly celebrated the milestone on Friday with a dinner in Jindabyne with her daughter. Larson was declared the oldest female hockey player in the world by the Guinness World Records last week and will continue to extend her record when the Tuggeranong Vikings State League 5 team takes on Wests at the Lyneham Hockey Centre on Sunday afternoon. Not even a mild stroke at the start of the season, nor a cracked rib a few weeks ago, could hold her down. Happy Birthday Marie!