Jonathan Laidley Patrick White
- 449Wallaby Number
Jon White was one of the best prop forwards that Australia has ever produced. A quietly-spoken farmer, White was, with Peter Johnson and John Thornett, part of one of the great Wallaby front-rows and with them he enjoyed some of Australian rugby’s greatest triumphs.
Born in Wollongong, White and his family moved to Cumnock in the central west of New South Wales. He played his first rugby as a No.8 after he moved to board at The Kings School in Sydney.
Like fellow internationals Phil Kearns and Nick Farr-Jones, White never played in his school’s 1st XV. On leaving King’s, White worked on the farm and began to play his rugby with the Yeoval team where he was switched to the front row.
He learned a lot from former New Zealand coach Harry Reid and made his representative debut, aged 19, for New South Wales Central West against the touring Fijians in 1954.
In 1958 Central West learned their lesson from the thumping they received from New Zealand a year earlier and staged a huge upset with an 18-15 over the Maori at Wade Park, Orange. White’s performance won him a debut in the second row for New South Wales against Queensland and from there was chosen for the Wallaby tour of New Zealand. The team was written off before departure but surprised the pundits by their performances.
The opening Test was in Wellington and it was there that White was selected to make his Test debut. He played in the middle row in each match of that series but reverted to the loose head side of the scrum for the remainder of his Test career.
From that debut, White played in 24 of the Wallabies’ 26 Tests through to the end of the home series against South Africa in 1965. White played in some of Australia’s greatest ever victories during that run including the two away wins against South Africa in 1963, the first time the Springboks had lost back-to-back Tests all century; the 20-5 defeat of New Zealand in 1964, the largest loss at home in All Black history; and the 2-0 home series victory over South Africa in 1965.
White played for NSW against the touring British Lions in 1966 but, after being married in 1965, found the demands of farming and family too much and retired.
In 2009 he was inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame. Jon White played 24 Tests for Australia in an eight-year international career.
White won his first Test cap at lock alongside John Carroll in the 1st Test, 3-25 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park. He and Carroll were retained in the second row for the two final Tests of that series.
The Wallabies did not play any Test rugby in 1960. 1961 - White started all six Tests, against Fiji (3) with Tony Miller and Peter Johnson, South Africa (2) and France (1).
White played the two home Tests against New Zealand in combination with Johnson and Jim MIller. He partnered Johnson and John Freedman in the three away Tests on the return tour to New Zealand.
White earned five caps, each alongside Johnson, against England (1) and South Africa (4). John Thornett started at tighthead prop in the final three Tests of the away series to South Africa.
White, Johnson and Thornett combined in all three away Tests against New Zealand.
In what was White’s final series, he, Johnson and Thornett were the front row for both home Test wins against South Africa.