Peter Joseph Phipps
A very fast, neat player who played mainly in the centres but was equally at home on the wing or fullback. Peter learned his rugby whilst attending Barker College and under the guidance of the sports master, ex-Olympian sprinter Jim Carlton, developed great all-round skills and passion for the game.
Peter went through his school days always in the first team for his age and starred when reaching the senior ranks. After completing his schooling he attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College (H.A.C.) where again his obvious talents stood out, thus gaining him automatic selection in the senior team and a well-earned reputation as a great all-round rugby player.
Peter joined the Gordon Club and his two older brothers John and Jim during the H.A.C. mid-term vacations playing in the lower grades and, in 1954, joined the club on a full-time basis and during the pre-season trials quickly worked his way through the grades to partner his Wallaby brother Jim in the centres.
In 1955 he was well established as the club’s inside centre and during the early part of the year gained representative honours playing for North Harbour versus South Harbour, then for NSW against Victoria and Queensland, both of which were selection trials for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. In the Queensland game Peter put in a very solid performance, scoring two tries and stopped some opposition attacks with pulverizing tackles.
Following this game he was chosen in the Australian side to tour New Zealand in 1955. He partnered his brother Jim in the centres during some of the lead-up games and was subsequently chosen to play in the second Test match, however he had to withdraw due to a knee injury. This injury was a disaster as he was unable to play another game during the tour and thus missed the opportunity of establishing himself as a regular Test player.
Peter started the 1956 season in top form, being chosen for NSW to play against Queensland, however he was injured later in the season when, during a club game playing for Gordon, he was tackled and, falling awkwardly, injured his back. After treatment he played out the rest of the season but was still restricted in some of his movement so he looked forward to the end-of-season break. The 1957 year was an important year as there was an end-of-year Wallaby tour to the British Isles.
Peter started the year in fine form but still feeling some restriction in his back, and following a particularly robust club game, had it looked at and it was found that he had two broken vertebrae in his lower spine. This injury marked the end to his rugby career as he spent long periods of time in hospital and eventually had a spinal fusion which got him back on his feet and mobile again.
He retained a great interest in the game, coaching and refereeing various teams and games in the Country and Armidale area.Though through ill-luck Peter Phipps did not play a Test, he played four Australian representative games and two games for NSW 1955-56.
His four games on the 1955 tour of New Zealand until he was injured were Thames Valley- Bay of Plenty (14-9), Bush- Wairarapa (22-17), Nelson- Marlborough – Golden Bay- Motueka (41-6) and South Canterbury- North Otago- Mid Canterbury (19-3). So he could always claim that he was never on a losing Australian team.
The four Phipps brothers, Jim, Johnny, Bob and Peter were legends at the Gordon Club. Rarely, if ever, has a club fielded four brothers in first grade matches.
Sarah O’Neill, Archivist at Barker College, informed the author that Peter attended Barker 1940-50. He joined the Athletics Team in 1948, and was awarded colours in 1949 and 1950. In 1950 he won the College Cup and the Moodie Cup in Athletics. He was a member of the Swimming Team from 1945 to 1950, and was awarded colours in 1950. He was also the School Champion in Boxing in 1950. Peter was chosen as a member of the 1stX1 in 1949 and 1950 (colours) and the 1st XV in 1950. He went on to play for the CAS 1st XV side.
All in all, he was a remarkable all-round athlete.