You are here
Home > Club Rugby > Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 057: Bunk Pollock

Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 057: Bunk Pollock

Homegrown excitement machine Harold ‘Bunk’ Pollock was a fixture of Wellington club and representative rugby throughout the 1930s.

Bunk Pollock was a three-time Jubilee Cup winner with his Petone club in 1930, 1935 and 1938, and played a decade of representative rugby for Wellington and played for the All Blacks in 1932 and 1936.

He was an explosive, multi-skilled player who sometimes played in the midfield but more so as an accomplished fullback and would have likely played much more for the All Blacks but for one problem, both real and perceived; he was a lightweight.

Even in an era when players were much lighter than today, Pollock’s listed weight dripping wet was 10 stone or 63kg.

Blessed with pace, footwork, sound positional play and as a leading goal-kicker of the time, being a ‘running fullback’ was fine in club rugby for Petone, domestic first-class rugby and against the Australians in 1936 where he had played in the 11-6 and 38-13 test wins in Dunedin and Wellington.

But the South Africans were coming in 1937, and it was perceived that the All Blacks needed a ‘safety-first’ fullback to meet their size and playing style. Pollock suffered a setback in his re-selection chances when it was reported that Taranaki centre Sullivan had beaten him twice in an early season provincial match in front of some of the selectors. Otago’s Jack Taylor (later to move to Wellington) was subsequently chosen as the custodian for all three tests and Pollock never played international rugby again.

Pollock continued to play for Petone and Wellington for the next three years, and helped Wellington to several notable wins in this period, such as against Auckland at home in 1938 when he kicked three penalties and was Player of the Match in a 12-6 win.

As Lindsay Knight noted in his A-Z profile of this player, Pollock was described in the Petone club’s centennial history as one of the most memorable personalities to ever play for the Villagers. “His ability to sidestep and dummy have probably never been matched in the Petone club.”

Petone team 1938.

Pollock was born in Petone in 1909 and educated at Petone West School and first played for the Wellington Colts side in 1929 before breaking into the Senior A squad the following year.

He made two appearances for the Wellington Senior A side in 1930 and seven more in 1931, and he was in the team on 22 July 1931 that lifted the Ranfurly Shield off Southland and that lost it a month later to Canterbury. He also played in the Wellington team that beat Australia 15-8 that season.

Pollock played for the North Island team in its annual fixture against South Island in 1932, 1935, 1936 and 1937.

In the 1932 North-South match at Christchurch the North won 28-10 with an all Wellington inside back combination of halfback Frank Kilby (Wellington Axemen), Herb Lilburne (Hutt) and Pollock, and with Hutt’s Nelson Ball on the wing.

He earned selection for the All Blacks tour of Australia and played in five matches of the tour, including at second-five, then centre, then second-five again in the three-test series that was won 2-1 by the All Blacks.

He played full seasons for Petone in 1933 and 1934 and appeared in 12 matches for Wellington in these two years but wasn’t selected for higher honours. In 1935 he trialled unsuccessfully for the All Blacks for their 1935/36 tour to the British Isles but assisted Petone to another Jubilee Cup success.

Pollock appeared to be back in top form in 1936. He scored a famous fullback’s try in the 1936 North-South match, in a 17-6 win in Christchurch. From a scrum inside his own half, Pollock raced up the blindside and ran on to a pass by Waikato halfback L.T. Russell and cut clean through a narrow gap. He burst past the opposing wing and swerved round West Coast fullback G.D.M. Gilbert and over the line.

For Wellington, Pollock’s busiest season was 1936 when he made nine appearances in provincial colours.

In the following year’s North-South game at Athletic Park, Pollock kicked two penalty and three conversions but couldn’t prevent the South winning 30-21.

One of Pollock’s final matches for Petone was a famous game at the tail-end of the 1939 season against the Wellington Axemen in front of a crowd of 10,000 at Athletic Park.

The Wellington Axemen won its maiden Jubilee Cup in 1939, beating Petone 18-17 in a crunch match on the penultimate weekend. Pollock lined up but missed a penalty at the death for Petone, after Petone had fought back from an 18-5 deficit at halftime.

Of note, the fullback who wore the All Blacks jersey after Pollock in 1937 and 1938, former Otago player Jack Taylor, kicked a first half dropped goal from halfway and a penalty from inside his own half in this same game.

Pollock’s first-class career saw him play 63 first-class matches, scoring 166 points. He played 43 first-class games for the Wellington A side throughout the 1930s.

In his work life, Pollock was a plumber.

Pollock died in Otaki in 1984, aged 74.


  • Akers, Clive. New Zealand Rugby Register 1870-2015. New Zealand Rugby Museum, 2016.
  • All Blacks A-Z profile Bunk Pollock – by Lindsay Knight
  • Dominion and Evening Post various reports 1930-39.
  • Griffin, Don and Gallagher, Peter. True Blue The First 100 years of Petone RFC. Apex Print. Petone, 1985.
  • Swan, Arthur C.; Jackson, Gordon F. W. (1952). Wellington’s Rugby History 1870 – 1950. Wellington, New Zealand: A. H. & A. W. Reed.
  • The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand Rugby. By Ron Palenski, Rod Chester, Neville McMillan. Hodder Moa Beckett, Auckland 1998


Similar Articles

Leave a Reply