Arthur James Summons

  • 10Caps
  • 431Wallaby Number
PositionFly Half
Date Of Birth12 December 1935
Place Of BirthSydney
SchoolHomebush Boys' High School
Debut ClubGordon
ProvinceNSW
Died15 May 2020
Debut Test Match1958 Wallabies v Wales, Cardiff
Final Test Match1959 Wallabies v British Isles, 2nd Test Sydney

Biography

Arthur Summons was a very talented fly half who impressed critics the world over before he switched codes and went on to be immortalised in rugby league’s most famous photo. Born in Sydney, Summons was educated at Homebush Boys' High School from where he twice won selection for Combined High Schools (1951-52) before a move to Teachers' College. He played a single season at Teachers’ before a shift to Gordon.

Summons was a cool headed player with great tactical nous who ran hard and offered stout defence.

In 1956, Summons played his first senior representative match when he debuted for New South Wales against Queensland and soon thereafter against the touring Springboks. Unfortunately Summons dislocated his left shoulder late in the first half of that match to miss selection for the Test series. When Dick Tooth led the Wallabies from fly half in the two Tests against New Zealand in 1957 it appeared that Summons would only fulfil a backup role if chosen for the Fourth Wallabies tour at the end of the year. All that changed when the selectors dropped a bombshell and Tooth was omitted from the 30-man squad. Summons played some excellent rugby and started all four Tests in Britain. Australia did not win a single Test on that tour however one of the few high points was the form of the two new caps in the halves. Summons and Des Connor struck up an immediate rapport and were, by some margin, the standout performers.

Summons toured New Zealand in 1958 and was one of three Wallaby backs chosen among the New Zealand Rugby Almanack's Five Players of the Year. The following year Summons played against the British Lions and while he kicked a dropped goal and performed brilliantly for New South Wales in their 18-14 upset win, the Test results were a disappointment.

At the end of the year he switched codes to play rugby league with Western Suburbs. He accepted a contract worth ₤450 to sign and ₤30 for a win or a draw and ₤10 for loss. In 1961 he became a dual international when he represented the Kangaroos against New Zealand.

In 1962-63, Summons devised a game plan that almost ended St George's reign as premiers. Summons' plot was to nullify the St George forwards with strong defence and turn the backs around with a well-placed kicking game, Wests defeated the premiers in three matches during 1963 however St George prevailed in the mud to win 8-3. As Summons embraced opposing captain Norm Provan after the match, the two were immortalised in John O'Gready's famous photo, 'The Gladiators'.

Arthur Summons played 10 Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.

Highlights

1957/58

Summons won his first Test cap at fly half alongside Des Connor in the 3-9 loss to Wales at Cardiff Arms Park. That halves pairing started in the next three internationals, against Ireland (against whom he scored his first Test try), England and Scotland before a bruised thigh ruled Summons out of the final Test against France.

1958

Summons started four Tests at fly half, the 2nd Test, 3-3 draw with the Maori, and all three away internationals against New Zealand. 1959 Summons and Connor partnered in their final two Tests, the home losses to the British Lions.

Arthur James Summons