Vale Thomas Baxter OAM, Wallaby 451

by Rugby Australia

The Australian Rugby community is in mourning after the passing of one-Test Wallaby, Thomas Baxter who passed away on August 4, aged 84.

A product of the Wallaby nursery, Brisbane Grammar School, Baxter spent three years as a member of their First XV between 1951 to 1953, captaining the side in his final year. The towering centre was renowned for his pace off the mark, penetrating runs and skilful handling.

After graduation from Brisbane Grammar, Baxter’s next success came when he went on to command the University of Queensland at flyhalf, winning three consecutive premierships in the process; 1955, 1956 and 1557, playing alongside the likes of John O’Neill and ‘Chilla’ Wilson throughout all three years.

Baxter was first selected at flyhalf for Queensland against South Africa on 29 May 1956 before earning selection for the Wallabies during their 1958 Tour of New Zealand where he played in the third and final Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on 20 September 1958.

Returning from the Wallabies tour, he was awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He departed Australian shores to undertake his studies at the university, where he gained two Oxford Blues for Rugby. While Baxter would never feature in another Test match for Australia, he returned home to write an article on ‘back-row play’, which remains in the Brisbane Grammar School library.

In 2012, Baxter received an Order of Australia Medal in the General Division for his services to engineering through executive roles and to the community. 

He will forever be Wallaby number 451.