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Ray Colbert was a fine utility back with a preference for fullback who was one of the few players in his era to represent both Queensland and New South Wales. Colbert punted well, handled soundly, tackled and also became a handy goal-kicker at time when such a skill was rare at the representative level.
Born in Brisbane, Colbert ranks as one of the finest all-round sportsmen the Toowoomba Grammar School has ever produced. He was a member of the athletics team (1945-488), the 1st XI (1946-48), the swimming team (1947-48), and the 1st XV (1947-48). In 1948 the TGS 1st XV were the undefeated GPS Rugby premiers. Colbert was one of seven members of that side to later play for Queensland and one of three to earn a Test cap for the Wallabies.
He began his senior rugby career for New Farm and then GPS Old Boy’s in Brisbane, and at age 19 was selected to debut for Queensland against Victoria. He moved to Sydney on a job transfer and joined the Drummoyne Club in 1952. That same season he played for South Harbour, City of Sydney, and debuted for New South Wales against Fiji. Peter Rothwell started at fullback in the opening Test but withdrew from the second due to a septic throat. As a result, Colbert was named to make his debut in Sydney. Rothwell then failed to pass a medical test and was ruled out of the subsequent tour to New Zealand which opened the door for Colbert to play both Tests.
He went to South Africa with the Wallabies in 1953 however Queensland’s Tom Sweeney was chosen for the 1st Test in Johannesburg. Australia were humbled 3-25 as the ‘enormous pressure exerted by the Springbok pack and halves’ took its toll, particularly on the debutants (including Sweeney). The selectors made five changes for Cape Town, three of which were in the backs, and Colbert returned to start in the final three Tests of the series.
In 1955, Dick Tooth assumed the fullback role for New South Wales and Australia.
Ray Colbert played six Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Colbert won his first Test cap at fullback in the 2nd Test, 16-18 loss to Fiji at the S.C.G. He also started at fullback in both away Tests against New Zealand.
Colbert played at fullback in the final three Tests of the away series against South Africa.