Keith Stanley Windon
- 307Wallaby Number
Keith Windon’s name may live in the shadow of his legendary brother Colin however he was a highly talented flanker in his own right and, quite remarkably, his career straddled World War II.
Regarded as one of Randwick’s greatest players, Keith was equally brilliant in attack and defence and, like Colin, possessed the priceless sense of anticipation. He was especially renowned for his skill at the controlled dribble in an era when forward dribbling rushes were a standard form of attack. Windon was a fitness fanatic and a rugby perfectionist - an animated textbook who played the game with machine-like precision. A thinking man’s player he believed that before a back-rower either packed into a scrum or presented for a lineout, he should check the opposition backs, how they lined up and how far away they set up.
Windon was aged just 15 when he first played for Randwick juniors (U21s) in 1931. Two years later he became the youngest Randwick player to start a first grade match in a side that went on to defeat Manly 12-8 in the grand final. Windon enjoyed a breakout year in 1936 when he debuted for New South Wales and was then selected for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. Although he did not play a Test, Owen Bridle and Aub Hodgson were given that honour, he gained invaluable experience.
The following year Windon hit the ground running and he was reputed to be the most improved player since the New Zealand tour. He delivered a stellar performance as New South Wales stunned South Africa 17-6 in the slush at the S.C.G. and in doing so earned a Test debut against the tourists a week later. Arguably his greatest game at international level was not played at flanker. In the second Test of the South African series Australia went in at halftime trailing 6-26. After the break Wallaby captain Cyril Towers was kicked in the forehead and left the field. Windon, who had never played centre at any level of rugby, was switched to out centre where he provided some much needed starch to the defence and a directness in attack that saw him heavily involved in three of the four Australian tries. Unfortunately injury cruelled the opportunity for Windon to face the All Blacks at home in 1938 when a broken bone in his right hand ended his season just 11 days ahead of the first Test.
The following year the Second Wallaby tour to Britain was the sole focus for all elite Australian rugby players. Windon won a spot in the final Australia v. The Rest trial however Hodgson and Queensland’s Boyd Oxlade filled the flanker roles for Australia while Windon was paired with Toowoomba’s Jack McDonald for The Rest. On the day the Australian XV’s forwards were badly beaten and Windon was at the forefront of what turned into a 29-14 upset victory. That match produced a try by Windon that is still discussed as one of the most superb examples of one-man ball control ever seen on a rugby field. The Sun report read, ‘from centre field, Windon came away with the ball at toe. Through the mud-patch he piloted the ball, shouldered off several defenders and then, favoured by the bounce, near the line juggled the ball on his fingertips and went over for a magnificent try.’ Windon was selected for the tour however the day after the team arrived England declared war with Germany.
Upon his return to Australia Windon served as a Warrant Officer in the RAAF and was posted to Point Cook in Victoria and later to Amberley in Queensland and Darwin, Northern Territory. After the war ended Windon returned to rugby and was chosen as vice-captain for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. He was injured in first game loss to North Auckland, a match in which he was honoured with the captaincy, after he received a kick in the shin. He was misdiagnosed with osteomyelitis and advised not to play again. Windon sat idle for eight matches before he returned to play the Maori, a match that 40 years later was granted full Test status. It was a disappointing finale to a brilliant career. He coached Randwick reserve grade sides in 1965, 1966 (premiers) and 1967, and was made a Life Member of the football club in 1970.
Windon won his first Test cap at flanker, paired with Russ Kelly, in the 1st Test, 5-9 loss to South Africa at the S.C.G. Kelly and Windon were joined in the back-row by Aub Hodgson for the 2nd Test, 17-26 loss, also in Sydney.
Windon earned his third and final cap in the 0-20 loss to the Maori at Rugby Park in Hamilton.