Alastair Kenneth Ewan Baxter
- 785Wallaby Number
Al Baxter endured a baptism of fire when he ultimately earned selection to the national team. Baxter, an athletic and agile tight head prop was first drafted into the Wallaby squad in August 2003 after Ben Darwin and Patricio Noriega were ruled out through injury for the 2nd Test against New Zealand at Eden Park. A little over three months later he wore the No.3 jersey in the Rugby World Cup final against England.
Born in Canberra but educated at Sydney’s Shore school, Baxter did not represent at schools or aged levels. He joined the Northern Suburbs club, debuted for NSW in 1999 and a year later played his first Super Rugby game against the Bulls.
His tenure within the national team came during difficult times for the Australian scrum, particularly in 2005 and again in 2007 at the hands of giant Englishman Andy Sheridan. While that was the case ARU CEO John O’Neill said that Baxter’s longevity in the most demanding of positions was a testament not only to his ability but his character, persistence and ambition. Baxter appeared in two Rugby World Cups during his 69 Test, seven-year international career, one which saw him finish as Australia’s most capped front row forward of all-time.
Baxter won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Glenn Panoho at No.3 in the 2nd Test, 17-21 loss to New Zealand in Auckland. He was picked in the Wallaby squad for the Rugby World Cup and played in six of the seven Tests. Baxter’s first starting XV cap came in the opening match of the tournament, the 24-8 win over Argentina in Sydney.
Baxter started at tighthead prop in all 12 Wallaby internationals.
He missed the opening Test of the season against Samoa but played in the final 12 matches, nine of them in the No.3 jersey.
Baxter played in 11 Tests although only three, each on the loose head side of the scrum, were won in the starting side.
Baxter did not play in the home series against Wales due to bronchitis however he returned to be capped in nine of the final 10 Tests of the year. He won selection to his second Rugby World Cup, played in four of the five matches and scored his first ever senior representative try, in what was his 50th Test, against Canada in Bordeaux.
Baxter won 13 caps, ten as the run-on No.3, and only missed the Spring Tour Test against Italy. In the opening match of the year against Ireland in Melbourne Baxter surpassed Ewen McKenzie as Australia’s most capped front row forward. He held that record until 2014. On the end of season Spring Tour there was a sense of redemption for Baxter following a powerful performance in the 28-14 victory over England at Twickenham.
Baxter picked up five Test caps, all in the run-on side, before he played his final international - the 18-19, 2nd Test loss to New Zealand in Sydney.