James Alfred Phipps
- 399Wallaby Number
Jim Phipps was a superb centre-three quarter who dominated the Wallaby midfield in the mid-1950s. While he starred for Australia at outside centre, Phipps was an extremely valuable utility back, particularly when on tour. He was also a devastating tackler both at the line and in cover. At outside centre, Phipps had the stride and speed to take an outside break and provide the space an opportunity for his two great wingers Eddie Stapleton and Garth Jones.
Born at Batavia, Java in Indonesia, Phipps and his family relocated to Sydney at the commencement of the Second World War. He and his three brothers attended Barker College, learned their rugby and prospered under the tutelage of senior sports master and ex-Olympian sprinter Jimmy Carlton.
Phipps was an outstanding schoolboy athlete. From 1942-1949 he was in the Athletics team and captained in his final year. He was awarded colours in both 1948 and 1949. He was also a member of the Swimming Team (1946-49) and was awarded colours in 1948 and 1949. He played in the First XI in 1949, and again was awarded colours. Finally, he played three season in the 1st XV for Barker (1947-49), won colours in each year, and was chosen to play in the CAS 1st XV in his final year.
After school, Phipps attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College from where he was approached by representatives of the Gordon Rugby Club to train with their senior side. Phipps accepted the offer, trained with the First Grade team and, in his first game for the club, played in the Grand Final alongside Australian captain, Trevor Allan.
In 1952, Phipps was chosen for the City of Sydney against the touring Fijians and then found himself as reserve back for both New South Wales and Australia. Later that the season Phipps went on his first Wallaby tour, to New Zealand, where he played six games but neither of the Tests. The following year he toured to South Africa and was named to make his Test debut in Johannesburg. From that debut, Phipps played in eleven consecutive Tests through to the end of the home series against the Springboks in 1956. Phipps commenced the 1955 season in devastating form and scored five tries in the third interstate match, one which doubled as a trial for the tour to New Zealand. Phipps’ brother Peter played at inside centre in that game, scored two tries, and both were chosen for the tour. Unfortunately fate intervened when Peter was picked to start in the 2nd Test only to withdraw due to a knee injury three days earlier in Oamaru.
Jim missed much of the following season and the Wallaby trials with a knee injury but was nonetheless named for the Fourth Wallabies tour to Britain. In the ninth match, Phipps dislocated his ankle and broke his leg against Edinburgh-Glasgow. On his return to Australia he retired from both representative and club rugby, however he kept a high profile as a coach, referee and club administrator.
Jim Phipps played 11 Tests for Australia in a four-year international career.
Phipps won his first Test cap at outside centre in combination with John Solomon in the 1st Test, 3-25 loss to South Africa at Ellis Park. That centre pairing was retained for the 2nd and 3rd Tests however Herb Barker came in for Solomon in the 4th Test, 9-22 defeat at Port Elizabeth.
Phipps and Barker were paired in both home Tests against Fiji. He scored his first Test try in the 22-19, 1st Test victory in Brisbane.
Phipps started all three away internationals against New Zealand.
Phipps played outside of Saxon White in both home losses to South Africa.