Ian Richard Comrie-Thomson
- 234Wallaby Number
Although hooker may have been more suited to Ian Comrie-Thomson’s 5ft 11in (1.81m) 11st 12lb (75kgs) frame, he played the majority of his representative rugby as a prop forward. As a consequence of his lighter-weight frame Comrie-Thomson always showed dash in the open and he went on to become a try scorer of some repute.
Born in Sydney Comrie-Thomson was educated at Saint Ignatius College, Riverview. In 1925, as the ‘new Easts’ forward’ Comrie-Thomson ‘caught the eye’ as he took the place of Wallaby #179 Charlie Thompson. The press of the day described him as ‘the most prominent of the younger brigade’ as he left fans impressed with his pace and vigor.
That same season New Zealand came to Australia for a six-match tour. The All Blacks lost their first match against New South Wales but won the next two. Somewhat surprisingly the NSWRU hastily scheduled an extra match against the tourists, one that required New Zealand to return to Sydney from Melbourne following their scheduled fixture with Victoria. The local selectors made nine changes for that fourth state game, one of which was Comrie-Thomson coming in at hooker for the great Jock Blackwood. Although he did not know it at the time that match was Comrie-Thomson’s Test debut after an ARU decision in 1994 elevated the remaining 34 New South Wales matches played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period to Test status (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals were given Test status in 1986).
The following year Comrie-Thomson was selected to play in the No.4 Team in the key trials for the Waratahs tour to the northern hemisphere however when it all came to pass Blackwood and ‘Doc’ Tarleton secured the two hooker positions. In 1928 Comrie-Thomson’s fortunes took a turn for the better after Blackwood announced his retirement and Tarleton declared himself unavailable for the tour to New Zealand. Comrie-Thomson was selected as a utility front-row forward with Jim Phipps and Jack O’Donnell the specialist rakes and the two Bills - Cerutti and Langenberg - the props. The five front-rowers endured a heavy schedule over the course of the 10-fixture tour. Comrie-Thomson played in eight matches, including the three ‘Tests’ with New Zealand and the one-off international against the Maori.
In 1929 rugby resumed in Queensland and suddenly the national selectors had the ability to choose players from three states – New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. That development dramatically increased the level of competition for places over the next few seasons. As a consequence Comrie-Thomson’s representative career came to a close however he continued to show for Easts and played his 100th club match in 1932 before gave it all away the following season. He went on to coach first grade at Easts and later became a New South Wales selector (1940-46).
Ian Comrie-Thomson played five Tests for Australia in a three-year international career.
Comrie-Thomson won his first Test cap at hooker in the 4th Test, 21-28 loss to New Zealand at the Sydney Showground.
He earned four caps as a prop, on the New South Wales tour to New Zealand, three against the All Blacks and the fourth in the 8-9 loss to the Maori in Palmerston North.