Paul Roderick Gibbs
- 502Wallaby Number
Paul Gibbs was a solid, talented fly half / utility back who proved to be just one of two Wallaby fly halves who did not switch their allegiances to rugby league from the early 1960s until the arrival of Paul McLean in 1974. Born in Birmingham, U.K., Gibbs was educated at King Edward’s VI School in Warwickshire where he learned the fundamentals of rugby. After school he migrated to Australia, settled in Victoria and played for the Melbourne Club.
In 1961 Gibbs earned a state debut forVictoria however it was not until 1965, when picked on the wing against South Africa, that he played against an international touring team. A year later Gibbs captained his state against the might of the British Lions. In that match Victoria gave a wonderful account of themselves despite losing 12-24. Gibbs, who marked the Welsh wizard David Watkins, scored a try and enjoyed a solid defensive performance to keep the Lions in check. On the back of that performance Gibbs was elected for the Fifth Wallabies tour to the British Isles, France and Canada.
While Gibbs was understudy to the brilliant Phil Hawthorne he performed consistently well and played in 14 of the 36 matches. When Hawthorne withdrew from the international against Scotland due to a depressed fracture of his right cheekbone, Gibbs was selected for his Test debut. With the result still in the balance during the match’s final quarter Gibbs, caught in a ruck, was kicked in the base of his spine. “Almost blinded with pain”, Gibbs was nothing more than a passenger as the Scots then capitalised on their one-man advantage to score their final try and clinch victory.
The injury saw Gibbs spend a night in hospital although X-rays revealed there had been no serious damage. Upon his return to Australia Gibbs continued to represent Victoria although he was not seen again at national level. Paul Gibbs played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #502.
Gibbs won his first Test cap at fly half outside Ken Catchpole in the 5-11 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield.