Burnett George "Chappie" Schulte
- 335Wallaby Number
‘Chappie’ Schulte endured the horrors of wartime incarceration before his undeniable rugby talents justifiably earned him a Wallaby jersey.
Born in Bundaberg and educated at Brisbane State High School, Schulte was a promising Australian Rules junior before he switched to rugby in his final year. He then had several positional changes over his early career however with a long, sweeping pass and exceptional pace off the mark he soon found himself exclusively occupying the halfback position.
After school Schulte joined the Eagle Junction club in the B grade competition from where he was seen as a ‘real star in the making’, a player of ‘distinct promise’ and ‘brilliant in attack.’ He burst onto the 1934 representative horizon while still a colt and within a year was ‘the star of the day’ when Junctions, in their first season in A grade, defeated Brothers to win the premiership. Schulte made his debut for Queensland in 1936 and played another seven state matches through until 1939. He was considered unfortunate to miss a berth on the Second Wallabies tour to the U.K., when the selectors preferred Eric Gibbons and Cecil Ramalli.
Not long after he enlisted in the Army and was posted to Singapore as part of the 2/10 Field Regiment. Schulte rose to the rank of Captain before he was captured by the Japanese. He spent three horrifying years of hardship as a P.O.W. in Changi, an experience that ultimately and dramatically shortened his life.
Amazingly he returned to rugby as if he had never left. In 1946 he played in the trials head of the tour to New Zealand after which former international forwards, Aub Hodgson and Jack Ford nominated him as the premier half-back in the country. They said, ‘If Australian selectors want a tough half-back who can take punishment and give the backline good service, then Schulte must be first choice for the team to tour New Zealand’ and that is exactly what happened. While on tour, and with both captain Bill McLean and vice-captain Keith Windon sidelined by injury, Schulte was honoured with the captaincy for the uncapped matches against Taranaki-King Country and Manawatu-Wanganui. He then made his Test debut at Dunedin.
The following year he was a reserve for the first Test against New Zealand at Brisbane however in a rather foreboding omen was left out of the second Test, one that unofficially doubled as the final trial for the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe. When the team was announced the second halfback spot behind Burke was given to Randwick’s Roy Cawsey. Schulte then brought down the curtain on a determined and courageous rugby career when he switched to play rugby league for Beaudesert. He succumbed to his wartime complications and died aged 36 years in 1954.
Schulte won his first Test cap at halfback paired with fellow first gamer ‘Mick’ Cremin in the 1st Test, 8-31 loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook. He picked up a second cap alongside debutant Des Bannon in the 0-20 loss to the Maori in Hamilton.