Arthur John Buchan
- 324Wallaby Number
Arthur Buchan was Australian rugby’s premier No.8 in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Easily recognisable in his trademark headgear and blessed with the speed of a three-quarter, Buchan was a marvellous and simply unrivalled cover defender. Buchan was also incredibly fit, no doubt a consequence of his surf lifesaving exploits with the Cronulla SLSC in southern Sydney. Aged 20, he was chosen as a ‘typical Australian lifesaver’ for a film depicting the work of the Surf Life-Saving Association of Australia to be made by a major Hollywood studio. Born and raised in Sydney, Buchan was awarded a bursary while at Bankstown Public School to attend Sydney Technical High School. He went on to captain the school and starred as a brilliant student. After graduation he enrolled in Science at the University of Sydney but played his club rugby with Randwick.
In 1945 he made his representative debut for New South Wales against Queensland and a year later emerged from the State trials with a ‘stamp of class’ to earn his spot on the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. Buchan hit the ground running in the opening match against North Auckland where his play was ‘magnificent’ and twice he came from the clouds to nail the great Maori and All Black centre Johnny Smith following a breakthrough. Buchan went on to be honoured with the captaincy in the uncapped match against Canterbury and play his maiden Test in Dunedin. In 1947 he was one of the first players chosen for the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe and started in all five internationals. Two years later Buchan’s unavailability for a return tour to New Zealand saw him inexplicably omitted for the opening two Tests against the Maori before sanity finally prevailed. As a teacher, Buchan was then transferred to Murwillumbah High School and, with rugby not played in the area, turned out for South Murwillumbah in the Richmond rugby league competition. His legacy to rugby remains in the current era with the Arthur Buchan Shield awarded annually to the NSW U16s Combined High School champions. Arthur Buchan played 10 Tests for Australia in a four-year international career.
Buchan won his first cap at No.8 in the 1st Test, 8-31 defeat to New Zealand at Carisbrook. He was retained at No.8 in a back-row which included Col Windon and captain Bill McLean for the narrow 10-14, 2nd Test loss at Eden Park.
He started both home Tests against New Zealand, the first at No.8 however he was shifted to flanker for the second in order to accommodate Queensland lock Graham Cooke at the back of the scrum.
The back-row of Buchan, Windon and Doug Keller started all five Tests on the Third Wallabies tour.
Buchan belatedly won his final cap when recalled at No.8 for the 3rd Test, 18-3 victory over the Maori at the S.C.G.