David Charles ‘Jock’ Crombie
David Crombie was something of a rugby anomaly, a goal-kicking hooker, who became a Wallaby before he went on to enjoy a storied career in the sport’s administration.
Although born in Sydney, Crombie played his first rugby in Warwick, Queensland as a winger in the Scots College under five stone, seven pounds team. Crombie quickly found his way into the forwards and played hooker throughout his secondary schooling at Churchie. In 1961, Crombie was selected in Churchie’s 1st XV however a pre-season trial injury - a compound fracture of the left forearm - restricted him to the final three premiership games.
The injury break provided Crombie, in a wrist-to-shoulder plaster cast, with the opportunity to unearth and diligently practise the art of goal-kicking - a skill that complimented his all-round game for the remainder of his career. Crombie kicked a footy in the style of famous All Black Don Clarke, standing the ball straight up on its end and then striking it with the toe of his boot.
Crombie graduated to the University of Queensland and in 1962 played for the premiership winning U19 side coached by Wallaby #419 Ken Donald. A year later Crombie made his first-grade debut and from there played in seven consecutive ‘A’ grade grand finals, four of which were won by University (1964, 65, 67 and 69). Never was Crombie’s goalkicking ability more treasured than in the 1965 decider against GPS. Down 3-15 at halftime UQ fought back to trail 14-15 after the bell before GPS halfback Peter McBarron was penalised by referee Bob Burnett. Crombie stepped up to take the shot, forty metres out and ten metres in from touch. Taking his time, Crombie ran in amid a silenced Normanby crowd. Crombie hit the ball sweetly and then watched it skim over the cross bar for the goal and premiership glory.
In 1966 Crombie won the first of his 16 state caps when he debuted for Queensland against Australian Combined Services at Normanby Oval (W 29-3). The following year Crombie was selected for the one match Australian tour of New Zealand as part of the New Zealand Rugby Union’s 75th Jubilee celebration. Crombie was chosen as a reserve at Athletic Park however Peter Johnson played all 80 minutes in the 9-29 defeat. Two seasons later Australia was set to undertake a tour of South Africa. Crombie made a “down payment” for a berth when Queensland beat Sydney 11-6 three days before the final trial - Queensland vs. New South Wales - however the selectors ultimately opted for Paul Darveniza and Bruce Taafe, who played in the Probables vs. Possibles curtain raiser, as the two hookers. During the Wallabies absence, Crombie represented an “Australian XV” against Fiji (L 3-26) before he retired following the 22-14 grand final victory over Brothers. In 100 ‘A’ grade matches Crombie scored a phenomenal 997 points.
In his post-playing days Crombie became an advocate for a simple rugby philosophy: “The objective in Rugby development must be to maintain a structure where players of all ages and body shapes can aspire to play to their levels of ability and choice, and that competitions and pathways are available for them to make that choice.” He became a Director of the Queensland Rugby Union (1997), a Director of the Australian Rugby Union (1999), Chairman of the Queensland Rugby Union (1999), President of the Queensland Rugby Union (2005) and President of the Australian Rugby Union (2013-15).
In 2014, Crombie was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to the meat and livestock industry, and as a supporter of social welfare, primary producer and sporting organisations.”
Crombie was an unused reserve for the 75th Jubilee Test against New Zealand in Wellington