Charles Gordon Stone
- 316Wallaby Number
Randwick’s Gordon Stone was a nippy halfback and astute leader whose career was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. Stone was often considered a better fly half and while his undoubted versatility made him an ideal tourist it also likely cost him a permanent representative position.
Born and bred in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Stone attended Long Bay Public School and then Sydney Boys’ High where he proved to be a champion as he played in the firsts for both rugby and cricket.
In 1934, his first year out of school, Stone was convinced to play rugby at Randwick by the club’s first grade coach Wally Meagher (Wallaby #203). He was graded in the thirds then swiftly promoted to the seconds as a fly half. Stone immediately formed a formidable combination with ‘Shirts’ Richards and it was no surprise that after just a few games the pair were picked in first grade. Meagher then surprised when he moved Gordon to halfback and Richards to fly half. Unbeknown to the public at large was the fact that the change came at the behest of the Australian selectors who were keen to test Richards at fly half ahead of the impending All Blacks’ visit. The switch was a masterstroke and ultimately instrumental in Randwick winning the 1934 premiership.
The following year Stone was picked for the Metropolitan XV however Norths’ Eric Gibbons had a stranglehold on the state jersey. A sensational start to the 1936 season saw Stone earn the rare distinction of being named captain for his New South Wales debut match, against Queensland, at Manly Oval however he was then surprisingly overlooked for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand when Richards and Gibbons were the chosen halves. The following year a broken wrist put paid to his representative ambitions and a double displacement of the shoulder early in 1938 looked set to do the same however he recovered to play against Queensland and then delivered a ‘gallant’ performance against New Zealand to earn a Test debut against the tourists in Sydney.
Although Stone felt that he had 'gone all right’, the one-sided, 9-24 defeat saw the selectors make seven changes for Brisbane and the young Western Suburbs prodigy Cec Ramalli slotted in at halfback. In 1939 Stone played fullback, outside centre and fly half in New South Wales' first three matches of the season but his hopes of winning a spot on the Second Wallaby tour dimmed as both Ramalli and Gibbons were preferred at halfback. Unfortunately Stone was overlooked for the tour although he did go on to play a final season for Randwick in 1940 that culminated in a third first grade premiership.
He then enlisted in the army and assisted in the establishment of a base hospital in Darwin. Following postings to Berrima and Ballarat he was mobilised to New Guinea. Discharged in 1945, Stone settled back into pathology at The Prince Henry Hospital and later coached the Randwick first grade side (1954).
Stone won his first Test cap at halfback, alongside ‘Shirts’ Richards, in the 1st Test, 9-24 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G.