John Edward Berne
- 586Wallaby Number
John Berne was a versatile, exuberant, and vigorous fly half / inside centre who played one season in Wallaby gold. A relentless,indefatigable and dedicated trainer, Berne had silky ball skills and was a superb tackler. Born in Belfast, Berne was one of five boys.
In 1961 the family emigrated to Australia. Berne completed his secondary schooling at Marist Brothers, Pagewood, where the winter sport was rugby league. He represented both Marist midweek and South Sydney in the U15s S G Ball Competition on Saturdays. He then went on to play for Marist in his senior years.
Aged 18 he presented himself to the Randwick Club. Given his limited experience in rugby league, and with no background in rugby Berne was advised to spend a year in Colts. He was politely adamant in his refusal to do so and returned to Souths and spent a year in the South Sydney Jersey Flegg Team.
In 1973 he came back to Randwick and after a mere three three trial games was selected in First Grade. The following year Berne made his breakthrough into representative football with a debut for Sydney against New Zealand and later for New South Wales against Victoria. Berne’s consistent form was rewarded with selection for the Sixth Wallabies for the 1975/76 tour to Britain where he made his international debut against Scotland at Murrayfield. At one point during that Test, and faced alone with four attackers, Berne caught Scottish halfback Don Morgan high in what was largely a reflex action. Two Scottish forwards retaliated, kicked him while he was on the ground, and as a consequence he suffered rib cartilage damage and had to be replaced by John Weatherstone.The injury kept Berne out for three weeks.
When the tour ended so too did Berne’s career with Australian rugby when he switched codes to play rugby league with South Sydney.
Berne won his first and only Test cap at inside centre alongside David L’Estrange in the 3-10 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.