Phillip Francis Hawthorne
- 479Wallaby Number
Phil Hawthorne was a brilliant fly half who alongside Ken Catchpole formed a halves combination, when at their best, had no equal in Australian rugby history.
For six seasons Hawthorne played a crucial role under John Thornett’s leadership that helped establish Australia’s standing in world rugby. Hawthorne brought a level of all-round skill to fly half that few aside from Mark Ella and Stephen Larkham have even matched. He was tough, durable, a fearless tackler and had a level-headed temperament. Hawthorne was blessed with silken hands, intelligence, great vision, an array of tactical kicking that meant defenders could never relax when he was in possession and he rarely sold the dump to his outside supports. Throughout his international career Hawthorne was never dropped by the Wallaby selectors and missed just one Test through injury.
Born and bred in Newcastle, Hawthorne had was still two months shy of his 19th birthday when he made his Test debut against New Zealand in Wellington. From that debut, Hawthorne played in 21 of the Wallabies’ 22 Tests through to the end of the 1967 season. He toured New Zealand in 1962, 1964 and 1967, South Africa in 1963 and with the Fifth Wallabies to Britain, Ireland, France and Canada in 1966-67. He also played in a World XV in South Africa in 1964.
Hawthorne was at the core of some of Australia’s greatest ever victories - 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 win over South Africa in 1965. On the Fifth Wallabies tour to Britain, Hawthorne was honoured with the captaincy in the uncapped match against Southern Counties at Oxford. Hawthorne switched codes to play rugby league with St George in 1968, on a record $30,000 contract, and two years later became a dual international when chosen for the Kangaroos against Great Britain.
In 1991 Hawthorne played in a Golden Oldies rugby tournament in Perth but felt strangely lethargic. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. In 1994, aged 50 he lost a long and brave fight. Alan Jones said: ‘He was a most gifted player, an inspirational player. It was the way he played that set Australia on a new [rugby] direction.”
Phil Hawthorne played 21 Tests for Australia in a wonderful six-year career.
Hawthorne won his first Test cap alongside Ken McMullen in the 1st Test, 9-9 draw with New Zealand in Wellington. He partnered Ken Catchpole in the 2nd Test, 0-3 loss at Dunedin but was back with McMullen for the 3rd Test, 8-16 defeat at Eden Park.
Hawthorne played fly half in all five Tests. He combined with McMullen in the 18-9 victory over England in Sydney and the 1st Test, 3-14 loss to South Africa in Pretoria. Catchpole returned at halfback for the final three Tests of the Springbok series.
Catchpole and Hawthorne were the halves in all three away Tests against New Zealand.
Hawthorne and Catchpole combined in both home wins against South Africa.
Hawthorne partnered Catchpole in the two home losses to the British Lions.
Hawthorne and Catchpole played in four of the five Tests on the Fifth Wallabies tour, against Wales, England, Ireland and France. In the international at Twickenham he kicked a record three dropped goals. Hawthorne withdrew from the international with Scotland due to a depressed fracture of his right cheekbone and was replaced by Victoria’s Paul Gibbs.
In his final season of international rugby Hawthorne and Catchpole started against Ireland in Sydney and New Zealand in Wellington.