Charles Colbran Eastes
- 327Wallaby Number
Charlie Eastes was arguably Australia’s greatest post-war wing three-quarter. A splendid opportunist, a prolific try scorer and a crunching defender, Eastes was a genuine flier with a high knee action whose career was impacted by both conflict and injury.
Born and raised in Manly, Eastes started his rugby career in 1939 as a 14-year old at Manly High School and then with the St. Matthews club in the Manly juniors competition.
In 1943 he debuted as a youthful centre with Manly, made a ‘sparkling’ first-grade debut and scored 14 tries for the season. That same year Eastes enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force, rose to the rank of Corporal and served two tours in New Guinea. Discharged in early 1946 Eastes returned to Manly and was quickly called up for his state debut, against Queensland, which he celebrated with three tries. That performance booked his ticket for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand, where in his first match for Australia, he notched a hat-trick in the loss to north Auckland. He played his maiden Test in Dunedin and after the tour was feted as ‘the most polished wing three-quarter to play in New Zealand for many years.’
Not surprisingly Eastes found himself in the sights of rugby league scouts however he was emphatic in his loyalty to union. Eastes said, "I am not interested in League football and never will be. They will be wasting their time asking me and they know it. My ambition is to play with the Australian Union team in England." In 1947 Eastes prolific try-scoring form was laid bare for all to see. He scored eight tries for NSW against Toowoomba, nine across the three games against Queensland and two for the Waratahs when they defeated New Zealand for the first time in 19 years. Eastes then refused the biggest offer, £1500, to play rugby league with English league club Leeds He said "It is staggering, but it would not compensate the loss of the Rugby Union tour I have a good chance of making."
He was one of the first selected for the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. however in the 12th match, against Newport, Eastes fractured his left forearm in a tackle on Welsh international Ken Jones. An operation to insert a metal place over the fracture ended his tour. A twice fractured ankle ruined his 1948 season and although he started two of the three home Tests against the Maori in 1949 his career was ended by a broken shoulder suffered in an illegal tackle at Chatswood Oval.
Eastes returned to play for his beloved Manly in the early 1950s before he embarked on a long career in administration. He coached Manly’s first grade side from 1960-62 and was President of the club in 1963-64. In 1969 he was elected President of the Sydney Rugby Union and that same year managed the Wallaby tour to South Africa. Eastes also served as President of the NSWRu and as Vice-President of the Australian Rugby Union. In 1977 he was awarded an MBE for his services to rugby and in 2013 was inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame.
Charlie Eastes played 6 Tests for Australia in a three-year international career.
Eastes won his first Test cap in the left wing the 1st Test, 8-31 loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook. In that match he became the 29th Wallaby to score a Test try on debut. He picked up a second cap, again on the wing and with a second Test try to boot, in the 10-14 defeat to New Zealand at Eden Park.
He was one of only seven Wallabies to start both home Test losses to New Zealand.
Eastes earned his final two caps in the 1st Test, 3-12 defeat and the 2nd Test 8-8 draw with during the home series against the Maori.