John Stewart "Mac" Lamb
- 247Wallaby Number
‘Mac’ Lamb was a tough, country-born back row / lock forward who came from good rugby stock to enjoy a brief international career in the wake of the Waratahs’ momentous tour to the Northern Hemisphere in 1927/28 and prior to the reformation of the Queensland Rugby Union in 1929. ‘Mac’ was the son of Fred Lamb, a back-rower, who played 12 matches for New South Wales (1901-08). Fred toured New Zealand in 1901, played against the first New Zealand side to tour Australia in 1905 and started against the 1908 Great Britain side.
Born in Armidale, ‘Mac’ finished his education at Sydney’s Newington College where he rowed in the 1st VIII for two years (1924-25), played one season in the 1st XV (1924) and represented the Combined GPS 2nd XV (1924). After school he joined the Eastern Suburbs club and played first grade in 1926. Somewhat remarkably Lamb did not play his first match of representative rugby until the day after the 26-man New South Wales squad was named for the 1928 tour to New Zealand. He played in seven of the 10 matches, including the 1st ‘Test’ against New Zealand in Wellington.
Although he did not know it at the time that match was Lamb’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). After the tour Lamb returned to Armidale when he showed for the Carlton FC in the New England Rugby Union’s A-grade competition and later represented New England at Country Week when they won the Country Championship. His strong form at the Carnival earned him a start for Combined Country in their 8-27 loss to New Zealand.
Lamb played for New England in 1930 however by 1932 he had assumed a mentor role for the new Teachers’ College Club. Five years later Lamb, as a Sergeant in the 12th Light Horse, was chosen in the Australian military contingent to attend the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey in London. Prior to the Coronation Lamb was fortunate enough to be one of the members chosen to take over the guard of Buckingham Palace and St. James' Palace from the Guards for 24 hours. It was a unique historical event.
All Dominion troops were invited to participate, however the Australians were the only ones so constituted to carry out the full Guard changing ceremonial. It struck a tremendous note, and the Australians were very proud of their participation. Of the Coronation itself, Lamb later said, "The events of the day enabled us to see the true exemplification of Empire, all peoples together as one, doing homage to one head. That was brought strikingly before us when we visited France and Belgium and, on the battlefields and cemeteries, saw the cost. There we paid full homage and gave full military honours to the men who had made possible the triumph of Australia." ‘Mac’ Lamb played three Tests for Australia in a one-year international career.
Lamb won his first Test cap at lock alongside fellow debutant ‘Jack’ O’Connor in the 1st Test, 15-17 defeat to New Zealand at Athletic Park. Both he and O’Connor retained their spots for the 2nd Test, 14-16 loss at Carisbrook. Waratah Geoff Bland returned from a broken nose to partner O’Connor in the third Test however Lamb came back into the side for the 8-9 loss to the Maori in Palmerston North.