John Edward Freedman
- 478Wallaby Number
John Freedman was a disciplined and dedicated tighthead prop whose representative career was cursed by Wallaby locks Tony Miller and John Thornett who both converted to the front row.
Born in Newcastle, Freedman was educated in Sydney at the rugby playing Canterbury Boys' High School however he chose the round-ball game as his sport of choice for the first two seasons after graduation. Freedman then joined Strathfield United alongside fellow future Wallaby Ian Moutray from where they were directed to grade football with Drummoyne.
Freedman served a long apprenticeship in the scarlet jersey but finally earned his first taste of senior representative rugby in 1961 when he debuted for New South Wales against Queensland at the Exhibition Ground. 1962 proved to be his breakthrough year as he captained Drummoyne, played in the Wallaby trials and won selection for the Australian tour of New Zealand as one of three prop forwards. Freedman was then one of seven debutants named in the first Test team in Wellington although Geoff Chapman was the only other forward on debut. The Australian scrum held up so well in the opening international that the All Black selectors dropped half their pack - Colin Meads, Kel Tremain, Dennis Young and Ian Clarke - for Dunedin. In fact, the Australian front row was retained throughout the three Test series while New Zealand changed their front three in each match.
The following year Freedman toured South Africa where he was honoured to be named captain in the uncapped match against Rhodesia in Salisbury. Freedman also led the side in three other non-Test matches on that tour. He started in the opening Test and while the Wallaby scrum held up surprisingly well the forwards were thrashed 12-29 in the lineouts. Unfortunately for Freedman the writing was on the wall when Australia met Northern Transvaal at Loftus Versfeld. The desperate need to fix the lineout problems saw John Thornett shifted to tighthead, and both Peter Crittle and Rob Heming brought in as locks. The Wallabies forced an 11-all draw and that result ensured the tight five were retained for the final three Test matches. Freedman did not take part in the Wallaby trials for the 1964 tour to New Zealand but was a reserve for the home series against South Africa in 1965.
Unfortunately, he was injured later that same season and retired from rugby to take up yachting. He participated in three America’s Cup challenges, being a crew member of Gretel I, Gretel II and Dame Pattie. Freedman then moved into rugby administration. He managed the Wallaby short tour to Wales and England in 1973 and became President of the New South Wales Rugby Football Union in 1984.
John Freedman played four Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Freedman won his first Test cap at tight head prop alongside Peter Johnson and Jon White in the 9-9, 1st Test draw with New Zealand. That same front row was retained for the following two Tests of the series.
Freedman played his final Test with Johnson and White in the 1st Test, 3-14 loss to South Africa at Loftus Versfeld.