Clifford Walter Patrick Lang
- 318Wallaby Number
Cliff Lang was a well travelled tight forward who rose to national honours from Victoria in the late 1930s only to lose his life in World War II.
Born in Multan, India, but now part of Pakistan, Lang was educated in the U.K., at the Dollar Academy in central Scotland.
Lang played club rugby with Bedford in England before he migrated to Australia in 1927 where he settled in Melbourne. He joined the Harlequins club then entered the army and switched his allegiances to Footscray. A most consistent rucker and a more than handy goal-kicker, Lang, at 6ft 2in and 14 st., did not make his state debut until 1931 however he went on to play in every Victorian side for the next six years. Lang forged such a strong reputation over that period that Victorians considered him one of the finest forwards in Australia.
A strong performance against the touring Springboks in 1937 where he was 'conspicuous in the tight and the loose as well as the line-outs’ pushed his name into the frame for national selection however luck was not on his side. The following year Australia suffered a one-sided, 9-24 defeat in the first Test against New Zealand. As a consequence the Wallaby selectors make seven changes for Brisbane and Lang came into the side on debut where he ‘made a fine impression’.
In 1939 Lang was named vice captain for The Rest in the the final Second Wallabies tour trial match against Australia. Unfortunately he suffered a possible shoulder fracture in the preceding interstate matches and was forced to withdraw from the fixture. Whether that proved decisive in the final analysis remains unknown however Lang went on to be described as an 'unfortunate omission' from the 29-man touring party.
During the war Lang enlisted in the 7th Division of the Second Australian Imperial Force where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Mobilised to Batavia with the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, Lang was reported missing, believed to have died from wounds in March 1942. He was posthumously awarded the 1939/45 Star, the Pacific Star, The Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal.
Lang won his first Test cap at prop alongside Alby Stone and captain Vay Wilson in the 2nd Test, 14-20 loss to New Zealand at the Exhibition Ground. That front-row trio were retained for the 3rd Test, 6-14 defeat at the S.C.G.