Robert Briton Loudon
- 200Wallaby Number
Bob Loudon was an unusual character. First, he and Derby are the only brothers to have captained Australia, they both had long careers, and they both only captained Australia once. Many brothers have represented Australia. The list is long. Harald and ‘Snowy’ Baker, Andrew and Cameron Blades, Stewart and Jim Boyce, Ernest and Edwin Carr, Peter and ‘Son’ Burge, Alfred and Tom Colton, Mitchell and Phillip Cox, Gordon and Clarrie Davis, Michael and Edmund Dore, Mark, Glenn and Gary Ella, Poley and Lew Evans, Glen and Len Forbes, Eric and Jack Ford, Vince and Ted Heinrich, Anthony and Daniel Herbert, Bob and Barry Honan, Bryan and James Hughes, Eric and Frank Hutchinson, Paul and Brian Johnson, Tom and Rob Lawton, Derby and Bob Loudon, Graeme and Stuart Macdougall, Doug, Bill and Jack McLean, Paul and Jeff McLean, Jack and Lou Meibusch, Robert and William Marrott, Pat and Bill Murphy, Frank and Fred Nicholson, Ignatius and Jack O’Donnell, Peter and Jim Phipps, Clarrie and Ward Prentice, Tom and Billy Richards, Frank and Norman Row, Tom and Norman Smith, Geoff and Keith Storey, Arnold, Jim and Harry Tancred, Joe and Ted Thorn, John and Dick Thornett, Keith and Col Windon.
It would make for a great quiz question, name the brothers who played rugby union for Australia. The second unusual thing about Bob Loudon is that he toured New Zealand as a back in 1923 and a forward in 1928. Has any other Wallaby done that? These games, then representing NSW, are now regarded as Australian representative games and/or Tests. In all Bob Loudon made three representative tours. The two to New Zealand with NSW in 1923 and 1928, and in 1933 with a full Australian team. His status in the game would have been much higher if he had gone on the 1927-28 tour. A certainty, he declared himself unavailable, and thus missed his appointment with destiny. Almost all the players on that tour became legends of the game. Just think of some of them: Johnny Wallace, Alex Ross, Tom Lawton, Wylie Breckenridge, Cyril Towers, ‘Huck’ Finlay, Jack and Eric Ford, ‘Jock’ Blackwood, Geoff Storey, Syd King, Wally Meagher, Syd Malcolm, Ted Thorn and so on. It is a pity that we could not put Bob Loudon on that list.
A superb athlete, this New Zealand-born Australian was 6’2” and weighed 200 pounds in 1933. A life saver of some distinction, while the Waratahs were away running around the paddocks on the cold British fields, he was stroking Manly Surf Club’s boat to win the national championship 1927-28. Bob Loudon’s representative career started the hard way, facing unforgiving and unrelenting New Zealand teams. On the 1923 NSW tour of NZ, he was picked as a three-quarter, the other being Allen (‘Sheik’) Bowers, Harold Buntine, Dan Erasmus, Billy Sheehan, Norm Smith, ‘Bot’ Stanley and H.B. Trousdale. Tall for a winger, at this stage he weighed 182 pounds.
He would play in eight of the 10 matches, including the two Tests, and appeared as a centre, fullback and wing. Versatility seemed to be his middle name. He moved in and out of representative teams, as he only represented once from 1925 to 1928, that being a single appearance in E.J. Thorn’s XV versus NZ on 1 July 1925, still as a back, but he was replaced in that game. By 1928 he was a specialist flanker, and from then on was regarded as one of the best in Australia. He toured NZ again in 1928, as a forward, and proved himself as a real iron man, he, Bill Cerutti and Cyril Towers being the only ones to play in every one of the ten games there. He played in the four Tests on that tour, and was captain of the Australian team in the third Test. Thus he took his place in history. He also captained Australia in two other games, against Hawkes Bay and Southland.
He continued developing in 1929, playing a single Test against the All Blacks in 1929. This was the first year since 1914 that a full Australian team had been put on the field. On the surface it would appear that his representative career was on the wane, as he appeared only twice in 1932, for NSW against NZ. However he fooled them all, and in 1933 was selected on the first-ever Australian tour to South Africa. He would play a highly creditable 14 matches there, including four Tests. He was regarded as one of the successes of the tour. His representative career ended the following year, 1934, as he appeared twice for NSW against NZ, and once for Australia in a Test, a 3-3 draw.
A great athlete, Bob Loudon would play 129 first grade club matches for Manly, as well as 32 for two earlier clubs, GPS Old Boys and Northern Suburbs. In all, he would play 34 matches for Australia, which included 13 Tests. Whatever else might happen in the future, the Loudon brothers, Derby and Bob, will go as the first brothers to captain their country.