Donald Ian MacMillan
- 374Wallaby Number
Ian MacMillan was a genuine loose forward of impressive physique who had a short but dramatic rugby career.
Strapping, yet lively, MacMillan arrived at Toowoomba Grammar School with first class credentials, being a nephew of 1913 Queensland representative Harold Stumm. While at TGS, MacMillan played ‘sensational’ schoolboy rugby and guided Grammar to its first ever GPS premiership in 1948. Inexplicably he was not selected for the All Schools' XV to meet Varsity despite being the competition’s most outstanding player.
Following his graduation MacMillan was faced with a major decision when English scouts offered him a lucrative contract with the Huddersfield Rugby League Club in the north of England. MacMillan rejected the offer to become a pastoral industry trainee in Dalby however he was so keen to remain in union that he travelled back to Toowoomba each weekend to have a run with Past Grammar. Early that next season his senior career was launched by an eye-catching performance in the intercity match against Brisbane. A week later, and with less than half a dozen club matches under his belt, MacMillan made his debut for Queensland against New South Wales.
Tipped as a future Test star, MacMillan was his state’s outstanding forward in the return interstate clashes in Sydney however he then missed selection on the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. Deemed to be the ‘unluckiest man in Australia’ at the time the general, non-official view was that MacMillan’s age proved to be the deciding factor. It was suggested some selectors were concerned that he could suffer the same strains which saw the similarly youthful ‘Arch’ Winning restricted to just a handful of matches on the Third Wallabies tour.
In 1950 he caught the eye with a strong performance for Queensland against the British Lions and, with the great Col Windon unavailable due to business commitments, MacMillan earned a Test debut against the tourists in Brisbane. The following year MacMillan had two strong games against the All Blacks however the selectors opted for the returning Windon at flanker. Sadly MacMIllan’s season ended in unfortunate circumstances in the Brisbane club grand final. Playing for GPS Old Boys against Brothers, a wheeled scrum collapsed on him, and fractured his right leg. While he represented Queensland again in 1952, MacMillan’s career as a stock and station agent restricted his ensuing rugby career given it required extensive service in regional areas.
Tragically he was killed in a motor accident in Vanuatu aged just 51. His memory is honoured with the award of the perpetual Ian MacMillan Memorial Trophy for Queensland Schoolboy player of the year.
MacMillan won his first Test cap at flanker in combination with Dave Brockhoff and Keith Cross in the 1st Test, 6-19 loss to the British Lions at the Gabba. That backrow trio were retained for the 2nd Test, 3-24 defeat at the S.C.G.