On This Day – 7 January

Category: Heritage

On This Day – 7 January

On 7 January 1928, three-quarter Gilbert Austin played his last game for Rovers in a dour 0-0 draw at Dewsbury. At the time, Austin’s 347 career appearances and 163 tries were both club records.

Born in Hull in 1895, Gilbert Austin signed for Rovers during World War I, and was one of six players who made their full competitive debuts at home to Wakefield Trinity when fixtures resumed in January 1919.

Austin is best remembered for his amazing run of 190 consecutive Rovers appearances over a period of almost five years from his debut until 8 December 1923. It was only so that he could play for Yorkshire – which he considered a great honour – that Austin finally missed a game. His 190 consecutive games stood as a rugby league record for over 50 years, until it was finally beaten by Widnes hooker Keith Elwell in the 1980s, and it remains a club record to this day.

Austin was a versatile and reliable performer who knew his way to the try-line. Not blessed with either raw pace or tremendous strength, he was an extremely dedicated player who never gave less than 100%. He scored a then record 37 tries in the glorious 1924/25 season, in which he touched down six times in a Yorkshire cup-tie against Halifax. In his first two seasons, he played mainly at full-back, moving to centre in the 1920/21 season, and from 1922/23, he played mainly on the wing.

His representative career sadly did not match the heights of his club career. His four appearances for Yorkshire, the first on the wing to legendary centre Harold Wagstaff, all ended in defeats, and a Great Britain trial match before the 1924 tour to Australasia was a disappointment, as he was somewhat exposed in a side that was heavily beaten.

Sadly, Gilbert Austin died in 1947 from injuries sustained in a motor accident at the age of just 53. His nephew, Pat Austin, was later a first team regular with the Robins, making 75 appearances in the very difficult early 1950s period.

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