Brian James Piper
- 334Wallaby Number
Brian Piper was the standout Australian fullback in the immediate aftermath of World War II. So good was Piper that by the end of his career he was spoken about as the best custodian since the legendary Alec Ross. Sir Nicholas Shehadie wrote of him: ‘Rock of Gibraltar, a fullback who had the superb knack of making the extra man and probing the gap. A sound defender, blessed with the safest of hands, and a reliable goal-kicker to boot.’
Narrabri-born, Piper was educated at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill where he played two seasons in the 1st XV (1941-42). In his first year out of a school he debuted in first grade with Randwick but then switched to the University of Sydney where he studied Dentistry.
Interstate fixtures resumed in 1946 however Drummoyne’s Ron Rankin, capped against New Zealand (1936 & 1938) and South Africa (1937), remained the first choice fullback. Nonetheless Piper came under the serious consideration for NSW selection late in the piece after Australian selector Harold Masters went to watch him play against St. George at Kogarah Oval. So impressed was Masters that Piper found himself chosen to play for NSW II against the Southern States just a week later. Despite that opportunity Rankin was the lone fullback chosen for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. A week ahead of their departure, Rankin was the sole tourist who chose to suit up for his club. Tragically Rankin fractured his ankle and Piper was brought in as his eleventh hour replacement. He played in 11 of the 12 matches including his Test debut in Dunedin.
In 1947 Piper re-joined Randwick, was awarded his Bachelor of Dentistry and went away as the No.1 fullback on the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe. Piper won a second trip to New Zealand in 1949 but was injured in a late night incident after just the second match, against Bay of Plenty. Piper’s tour ended abruptly when he suffered a compound fracture of the upper right arm and concussion following a four metre fall from the hotel balcony. His representative career ended, Piper continued to play club rugby through to the end of the 1953 season when he retired.
Brian Piper played 12 Tests for Australia in a four-year international career.
Piper on his first Test cap in the 1st Test, 8-31 loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook. He picked up two additional caps in the 0-20 loss to the Maori in Hamilton and in the 10-14, 2nd Test defeat to New Zealand at Eden Park.
He started at fullback in the 1st Test, 5-13 loss to New Zealand in Brisbane before Queensland’s Clem Windsor earned his debut in Sydney.
Piper went away as the No.1 fullback on the Third Wallabies tour and played all five Tests.
In his final season of international rugby Piper was capped in the each of the three home Tests against the Maori.