John Robert Ryan

  • 6Caps
  • 584Wallaby Number
PositionWinger
Date Of Birth28 December 1948
Place Of BirthSydney
SchoolMarist Brothers’ High School, Eastwood
ProvinceNSW
Died1 May 1982
Debut Test Match1975 Wallabies v Japan, 2nd Test Brisbane
Final Test Match1976 Wallabies v Fiji, 3rd Test Sydney

Biography

John Ryan was the most prolific try scorer in Australian Test rugby history. What he lacked in pace, Ryan more than made up for that with power. A barnstorming, bulldozing, bustling winger, Ryan often left a trail of defenders in his rampaging wake. Born in Sydney and educated at Marist Brothers’ High School in Eastwood, Ryan played his club rugby at Gordon but took some time to make a mark in representative football.

He first garnered attention in 1975 following a series of good club performances. Ryan then scored a try on debut for Sydney against NSW Country in the famous ‘Tap Five’ match. Just over a week later he scored another try, marked by future British Lion Peter Squire, when Sydney stunned England 14-10. Three days on from the Sydney win, Ryan scored on debut for NSW, again against England, although Squires squared the ledger with a try of his own.

Amazingly three tries in two weeks wasn’t enough for Ryan to earn a Test debut. For that he had to wait for the following home series against Japan. Ryan marked a replacement appearance for Sydney against the Japanese with yet another four-pointer but was again overlooked for the opening Test. His chance came in the second Test at Ballymore when he was selected on the right wing in place of Doug Osborne. Ryan celebrated that debut match with not one, not two but three tries. In doing so Ryan became the first Wallaby to score a hat-trick in his maiden Test. It was a feat not matched until former Springbok captain Tiaan Strauss did so, remarkably off the bench, against Ireland in 1999.

Not surprisingly Ryan was selected for the Sixth Wallabies tour to Britain where he starred even though he only played one Test - against Ireland - and scored yet another try. In his 14 matches on tour Ryan scored 14 tries and played in only two losing sides.

Unfortunately the wing pairing used in the first three Tests, Laurie Monaghan and Paddy Batch, did not score a Test try between them all tour. As if to rub it in, Ryan dotted down again against the United States on the way home. He then scored in each of the home Tests against Fiji during the 1976 domestic season. He was picked for the end-of-season tour to France and Italy, not used in the Tests and then switched codes to play rugby league with Penrith.

John Ryan played six Tests for Australia, all won, and scored at least one try in each appearance during his two-year international career.

Highlights

1975

Ryan won his first Test cap on the right wing in the 2nd Test, 50-25 defeat of Japan in Brisbane. He scored three tries to become the 51st Wallaby to score a try on debut.

1975/6

Ryan started on the right wing in two Tests, in the 20-10 win over Ireland at Lansdowne Road and the 24-12 victory over the U.S.A. in Anaheim.

1976

Ryan paired with Paddy Batch in all three home Tests against Fiji. He bagged a try in the first and third Tests and a double in the second.

John Robert Ryan