John Saxon Crakanthorp
- 202Wallaby Number
Saxon Crakanthorp was a fine, all-round athlete who briefly earned national honours before he walked away from rugby in order to pursue a career in Medicine.
Born in Bathurst, New South Wales, and educated at Fort Street High School in Sydney, Crakanthorp was a ‘sound fullback’, ‘very reliable in defence’ who ‘kicks well with either foot and is a sure tackler.’ He also established himself as an accomplished swimmer with the Manly Surf Lifesaving Club. ‘Hailed by the village oracles as a champion beltman’, Crakanthorp represented Manly in Cecil Healy Memorial events during the summer and showed ‘in the winter as custodian for [the] ‘Varsity Rugby Union fifteen’.
In 1922 he represented the University of Sydney on their tour of New Zealand, one that included ‘Tests’ against Combined Universities and he suited up for Uni again a year later as Combined ventured to the western side of the Tasman. Later that same season New South Wales were scheduled to tour the Dominion. Unfortunately the selection of the touring party was thrown into disarray when 11 players - Pup Raymond, Larry Wogan, John Pym, Harry Tancred, Watty Friend, Wakka Walker, Owen Crossman, John Bonner, Max Hesslein, Reg Foote and Roy Cooney - the first eight of whom played in the home series against the Maori, were unavailable to take part. As a consequence Crakanthorp received a call-up for the squad however his departure, along with that of five club mates, was delayed a week by the requirements of the university examiners.
Viewed as ‘a player of merit who should do well’, Crakanthorp succumbed to a thigh injury - suffered prior to tour selection - and missed the first five matches. Eventually he made his state debut against Hawkes / Poverty Bay-East Coast and when Otto Nothling was shifted into the centres for the final ‘Test’, Crakanthorp came into the side at fullback in Wellington. Although he did not know it at the time that match was also Crakanthorp’s official 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).
In 1924 Crakanthorp passed his final examinations and was awarded two degrees - a Bachelor of Medicine and a Master of Surgery. He continued to show for University that season but injured his knee, a development that firmly opened the door for the future Hall Of Famer Alec Ross to begin what became a near-decade long run as Australia’s No.1 fullback. Soon thereafter Crakanthorp retired from rugby in order to devote his time to medicine. He entered the Australian Military Force during World War II, attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and served in the Middle East and New Guinea, where he was mentioned in despatches.
Saxon Crakanthorp played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #202.
Crakanthorp won his first Test cap at fullback in the 3rd Test, 11-38 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park