Charles Peter Crittle
- 482Wallaby Number
Peter Crittle was an intelligent, crafty, vigorous and versatile forward who was a core component of the Wallabies’ successes during the mid-1960s. An enigma in certain respects, Crittle was a born leader who, over the course of his life in rugby, gave as much back to the game as he ever took.
Born and bred in Sydney, Crittle attended Sydney Boys High School where he played two years in the 1st XV. In 1956 he attended the University of Sydney enrolling in a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and History and for the following two seasons played as a centre with Sydney High Old Boy’s. In 1959 had a few runs as a lock in the pre-season with University and a year later he enrolled in a Diploma of Criminology so that he was qualified to play at Camperdown.
In 1962 Crittle was selected to represent South Harbour in the trials for the upcoming Wallaby tour to New Zealand. His performances saw him chosen for ‘Australia’ against The Rest in the final trial and from there, and to his great delight, was selected as a flanker for the tour. Crittle delivered a series of strong performances to win a Test debut in Dunedin. Peter Johnson wrote: ‘Crittle gave a strong display. He charged into the heavy stuff but it was his clever distraction of one or more opponents in ruck and lineout which made it difficult to believe this was his initial Test.’
In 1963 he toured South Africa and it was there that the quality of the Crittle-Rob Heming lock partnership began to be realised. Not overly large by the standards of day for their position, the pairing matched the best in the world. They were a superb combination, Heming the better jumper, although Crittle won his share, and together they intelligently tied up their opponents. On that tour Crittle was honoured with the captaincy in two uncapped matches, against Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth and Central Universities in Bloemfontein. In the third Test at Ellis Park, Crittle delivered one of his finest performances and was heavily involved in the crucial try scored by John Williams as Australia won 11-9 to take a 2-1 series lead. Crittle toured with the Fifth Wallabies to Britain in 1966/67 however he was a highly controversial omission from the side that went to South Africa in 1969.
Crittle’s contribution was not limited to the playing field and he made his mark as a coach and an administrator. He chaired the first national coaching panel (1974), then coached Sydney (1980-81), and NSW (1982-83). Crittle served as president of the New South Wales Rugby Union (1993-99) and vice president of the Australian Rugby Union (1994-2001) before he reached the pinnacle of his post-playing career, president of the Australian Rugby Union (2001-05).
In 2004 Crittle was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia "for service to Rugby Union football, particularly in the planning and hosting of the 2003 Rugby World Cup and as a player, coach and administrator." A year later he received the Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished service from the International Rugby Board. Finally, in 2021, Crittle was inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame.
Peter Crittle played 15 Tests for Australia in a six-year international career.
Crittle won his first Test cap at flanker alongside Geoff Chapman and Rob Heming (No.8) in the 2nd Test, 0-3 loss to New Zealand at Carisbrook. Two weeks later that same back row was retained for the 3rd Test, 8-16 defeat in Auckland.
Crittle suffered a nasty back injury during the second South African tour match, against North Eastern Districts. He missed the next eight games, including the opening Test, after a pint of fluid was drained from his swollen and bruised lower back. Crittle recovered to partner Heming in the middle row for the final three Tests of the series.
The Crittle / Heming combination started all three away Tests against New Zealand.
Crittle and Heming were paired for both home wins against South Africa.
Heming and Crittle partnered at lock for the two home losses to the British Lions.
Crittle missed the first international against Wales, replaced by Ross Teitzel, as he had not played enough tour matches due to illness. When Heming was ruled out with a broken bone in his right foot, Crittle returned to partner Teitzel in the 5-11 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield. He and Teitzel were then paired for the 23-11 win over England at Twickenham and the 8-15 defeat to Ireland at Lansdowne Road. Illness and a lack of game time saw him overlooked for the final international against France.