Peter John FitzSimons
- 682Wallaby Number
Peter FitzSimons was an intensely proud, tenacious and passionate lock forward who travelled the world to play the game he loved before a permanent return to Australia in 1989, aged 28, presented him with a late career opportunity to represent his country at Test level. A master mauler and good scrummager who also offered an excellent option at the short lineout, FitzSimons was a rugby man through and through, devoted to the spirit and ethos of the game.
Educated in Sydney’s north at Knox Grammar, where he played in the 1st XV, FitzSimons also attended Findlay High School in Ohio, U.S.A. after he won an AFS scholarship. He returned to complete an Arts degree at the University of Sydney and majored in government and political science. FitzSimons made his 1st Grade debut for University in 1982 and a year later joined Manly, won the Shute Shield and made his representative debut for New South Wales against Queensland at Ballymore.
In 1984 he won selection for the Wallaby tour to Fiji but did not play in the one-off Test. FitzSimons moved to Italy and played the 1984/85 season with Rovigo before he joined France’s Club Athlétique Brive for four years. He returned to Australia in 1989 and with incumbent locks Steve Cutler and Bill Campbell unavailable the Wallaby selectors named five uncapped second-rowers for the tour to Canada and France. FitzSimons was one of the five and made his Test debut against the French in Strasbourg.
The following season he played in the opening Test of the year against France in Sydney. In what will forever be remembered as a vicious start to a spiteful series opposing locks Rod McCall and Jean Condom came to blows early in the first half. Within seconds both forward packs were involved in an ugly melee. As the players began to separate FitzSimons was poleaxed from behind by a swinging forearm from Philippe Sella and collapsed to the turf. The tone of the match did not improve. At the 13 minute mark French flanker Abdel Benazzi was sent off after he stomped on McCall at a ruck.
Later in the year FitzSimons toured New Zealand with the Wallabies and played in the first Test loss at Lancaster Park. That defeat triggered a dramatic change in approach from the selectors and as a result five players - FitzSimons, Greg Martin, Ian Williams, Paul Cornish and Steve Tuynman - each played their final career Test.
FitzSimons played seven Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Represented Australian U21s against Fiji (47-4) at Ballymore and New Zealand U21s (36-12) at the S.C.G.
FitzSimons won his first Test cap as the starting lock alongside fellow debutant Rod McCall in the 1st Test, 32-15 victory over France in Strasbourg. A week later he picked up a second cap in the 2nd Test, 19-25 defeat at Lille.
FitzSimons was capped in each of the opening four internationals against France (3) and the U.S.A. His final Tests was at lock in the 1st Test, 6-21 loss to New Zealand in Christchurch.