Hubert Sydney ‘Sid’ ‘Jum’ Turtill All Black 1905
Hubert Sydney ‘Sid’ Turtill packed a lot into his short life. Sid played in the third test match ever played by the All Blacks. He then played in the first test match by the New Zealand Rugby league side and in 1908 he was the first New Zealander to score a try against Great Britain (Rugby League). He was captain of New Zealand in the first Rugby League test between New Zealand and Australia, won by New Zealand 11-10. He was also captain of one of the sides in the first Rugby League match played in New Zealand.
Born in London in 1880, his father died a few days before his birth. His mother took her children to New Zealand to be with relatives. Young Sid grew into a chubby healthy boy and gained the nickname ‘Jum’, short for jumbo. Jum attended West Christchurch School 1885-1892. Jum turned out as fullback for the Albion B side in 1898 and the following year was in the senior side. Jum was fit and active taking part in swimming competitions, cycle races, shooting competitions and undertaking military training. In 1902 he made his debut for Canterbury. In 1905 with the first choice All Blacks having left for the UK, a second All Blacks team was selected to play Australia in Dunedin. Jum gained selection after a strong game for Canterbury – South Canterbury combined.
On 2 September 1905 the All Blacks played their 3rd test match. Jum ran out as fullback for New Zealand against Australia, he had a strong game and the All Blacks won 14-3.
When the first-string All Blacks returned in 1906 they brought with them news about another type of rugby, Northern Union as it was known (Rugby League today), which paid players for playing. Jum signed on and in 1907 he left for the UK with the professional All Blacks team. (In the UK they were known as the All Blacks, in New Zealand and Australia they were commonly called All Golds in reference to them being paid to play). Jum was one of the stars of the team and was promoted to captain for several matches.
Upon the teams return to New Zealand in 1908, he married Mabel Hancock but before too long he signed up with the St Helens Rugby League Club and left New Zealand’s shores. It seems he dropped the handle ‘Jum’ and was known as Sid again. He was a popular star player for St Helens for five seasons, playing 137 games and kicking 198 goals. Sid and Mable had three sons, his youngest just a day old when he retired in 1914 and became a publican, however just months later Sid enlisted in the Royal Engineers. He was involved in many major battles of the First World War, but his luck changed during the Battle of Givenchy, where he was struck by shrapnel and killed, 9 April, 1918, aged 38.
Sid Turtill’s great granddaughter Hannah Lawton married current All Blacks star, Sam Whitelock in 2016.