- 497Wallaby Number
George Ruebner was a thickset, robust three-quarter blessed with sharp acceleration and an ability to crash through tackles who had a short Test rugby career before he switched to rugby league.
Born in Shanghai, China, Ruebner was a product of Randwick High School where he captained the 1st XV in 1960. Ruebner joined the Randwick club in 1964 and in his second season found himself in First Grade where he benefited from the quicksilver service of Ken Catchpole and Tony Moore to score 17 tries in just 12 games. Not surprisingly he was chosen to make his senior representative debut for New South Wales against Queensland where he scored 12 points (1T, 3PG) in the 15-17 loss.
After his performances that season The Australia Rugby Union Almanac named Ruebner as one of the five best players of the year with the prediction that “He is very much the player to watch this winter.” Ruebner started the 1966 season in superb touch and with the Boyce twins unavailable (Jim had departed for the University of California at Berkeley and Stewart was injured), Ruebner was selected to make his Test debut against the British Lions in Sydney. Despite the fact that the far more experienced Beres Ellwood started that match at inside centre, Ruebner was handed the kicking duties. Unfortunately, Ruebner missed his first three attempts, all from inside 35 metres, however it was from the third of those missed shots that Tony Miller scored Australia’s first try.
Ruebner was retained for the second Test despite carrying a leg injury. The selectors placed Dick Marks on standby yet left the final decision to Reubner himself. He declared himself fit to play but broke down due to the injury. With his wing partner Alan Cardy also hurt, the Australian backline defence was left in tatters and the Lions scored freely in the second half to win 31-0. With his ability to play centre or wing allied to his goal kicking, Ruebner loomed as a strong possibility for the Fifth Wallaby team to tour Britain however the Australian selectors opted for three other Randwick centres in Phil Smith, John Brass and John Francis. As such it was no surprise when Ruebner switched codes to play rugby league for Balmain at the end of the season.
Ruebner won his first Test cap on the right wing alongside fellow debutants, left winger Alan Cardy and outside centre Rick Trivett, in the 1st Test, 8-11 loss to the British Lions in Sydney. A week later Ruebner retained his place in the 2nd Test, 0-31 defeat.