The Australian Rugby community is today mourning the passing of 14 cap Wallaby breakaway, Norman 'Mac' Hughes, aged 88.
Born in Albury, Hughes was introduced to Rugby during his time at Sydney’s Mosman Preparatory, before going onto play at Shore School, where future Wallaby mentor Bryan Palmer coached him.
Commencing his Rugby career in the backline, the menacing Hughes shifted to the back of the scrum for his two seasons in Shore Schools’ 1st XV between 1949-50. Hughes continued in the position at the University of Technology before moving to the University of Sydney in 1952.
It was in 1953 that Hughes caught the eye of Wallabies selectors and was one of the bolters named for that year’s tour to South Africa.
Hughes made his debut as part of a shocking back-row combination in the opening Test at Johannesburg. Later starting in all four Tests of the series, forming a powerful loose forward trio with Keith Cross and Brian Johnson.
In Cape Town, a Hughes win at the back of the lineout proved crucial in Garth Jones’ match-winning try and an Australian victory that dealt the Springboks their first loss since 1938.
Hughes was again selected to tour in 1955 when the Wallabies took to New Zealand, starring in all three tests and scoring his inaugural Test try during the Wallabies victory at Eden Park.
Selected again in 1956 for South Africa’s Tour of Australia, Hughes started at the back of the scrum before going on his final Wallabies tour in 1957. Here, he was capped in all five matches packing down against Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France and England.
A world-class loose forward who commanded automatic selection in the Wallaby back row, Hughes was and forever will be Wallaby 398.