Bruce Gray Hamilton
- 342Wallaby Number
Bruce Hamilton was a one Test capped Wallaby whose rugby career was forged entirely in Country New South Wales. He rose to representative rugby through the post-World War II selection process set-up in recognition of the conflict’s impact on experienced playing stocks. Tall for his time at 6’2”, Hamilton was a 13½ st. flanker who often found himself in the middle row. He was renowned for playing 80 minutes of tight, hard rugby that featured speed in attack and hard, low tackling in defence. Hamilton was also a dominant force in the lineouts when given that role. Born in northern NSW at Jiggi, Hamilton played rugby league during his schooling days at Lismore, Maitland and Tamworth. He did not play his first rugby until he was almost 18 when he began to study a Science degree at the recently established New England University College, Armidale. At the time rugby league was the dominant code in the Armidale district so Hamilton complimented his rugby by playing in the senior league competition.
However, from the 1945 season on, even while his first teaching appointment took him back to Tamworth, he continued to play rugby for the University of Armidale. In 1946 Hamilton worked his way through a series of rugby selection trials which earned him selection in the 40-strong State squad. He then delivered an impressive performance when New England held Queensland to a 9-9 draw, one that strengthened his consideration for higher honours. In that match Hamilton was ‘a lion. Rarely did he fail to take the ball in the line out. In the rucks, with the diminutive but stout hearted Lennon, he did three men's work.’ Hamilton was rewarded with selection for Australia against The Rest in the final trial match preceding selection of the Wallaby team to tour New Zealand. Following a ‘brilliant display’ in that match Hamilton was tipped by the press to join the Windon brothers as one of three flankers however the third spot went to Queensland’s goal-kicking Allan Livermore. As fate would have it an injury struck Wallabies were forced to call home for reinforcements and Hamilton arrived in time for the sixth tour match against Canterbury in Christchurch.
He was also selected at flanker against the Maori but in a late change to allow Keith Windon to return from injury, Hamilton shifted to the second-row alongside Phil Hardcastle. Although he did not know it at the time that match was his Test debut. The following year Hamilton played for Country against City and NSW II against Victoria. He would have played for NSW II against Queensland if he had not been denied mid-week leave by the Education Department. His final representative match was for Combined Northern against New Zealand in the penultimate match of their short tour. None of the local forwards came out of the match better than Hamilton and the opposition manager said he was one who would hold their place in any team. Increasing career demands saw Hamilton switch to rugby league with West Tamworth in 1948 before a broken leg in the final round of the 1949 season brought his playing career to an end. Bruce Hamilton played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #342.
Hamilton won his first Test cap at lock alongside Phil Hardcastle in the 0-20 loss to the Maori at Rugby Park.