Robert Briton Loudon

  • 13Caps
  • 200Wallaby Number
PositionWinger/Flanker
Date Of BirthMarch 24, 1903
Place of BirthChristchurch, NZ
SchoolSydney Grammar School; Christ's College, Christchurch, NZ
Debut ClubGPS Old Boys (Sydney)
ProvinceNSW
Other ClubNorth Sydney, Manly
Debut Test Match1923 Wallabies v New Zealand, 1st Test Dunedin
Final Test Match1934 Wallabies v New Zealand, 2nd Test Sydney
DiedOctober 6, 1991

Bob Loudon holds a unique place in Wallaby history. First, he and his brother Derby are the only siblings to each captain Australia in a Test match. Second, he is the only player to be selected as both a back and a forward on separate Wallaby tours. A ‘superb athlete’ and a winger-cum-flanker of ‘wonderful pace’, Loudon had ‘an unerring instinct for position’ that helped him become one of the great try scorers of both his and, arguably, any era.

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Loudon finished his schooling at the Sydney Grammar School where his sporting star shone bright. He played fullback in the GPS premiership winning 1st XV sides of 1919 and 1920. Outside of rugby Loudon represented the 1st XI premiers of 1920, was a member of the Senior Athletics team (1919-20) and became Champion Boxer (1920).

In 1921 Loudon played his club rugby with North Sydney and so impressed that he was selected as a reserve for state team trials. Two years later New South Wales hosted the Maori before they embarked on their own tour of the Dominion. Unfortunately, the selection of the touring party was thrown into disarray when 11 players - four of whom were wingers - Pup Raymond, John Pym, Owen Crossman, Bonner and Reg Foote - were unavailable to take part. As a consequence, Loudon, who had switched to the GPS Old Boys club, received a call-up for the squad alongside ten other players new to State honours.

After a start in the opening match against Wellington-Manawatu, Loudon was selected as a reserve for the opening international in Dunedin. When Dannie Erasmus retired due to injury Loudon came off the bench as the replacement. Although he did not know it at the time that match was also Loudon’s official Test debut after an ARU decision in 1994 elevated the remaining 34 New South Wales matches played against international opposition in the 1920-28 period to Test status (the five 1927/28 Waratahs’ internationals were given Test status in 1986).

The following year Loudon switched allegiances to Manly and although he trained for the state side ahead of the incoming tour by New Zealand it was to be three years before his next representative match. A move to flanker in 1926 proved to be a prescient decision. Twelve months later Loudon scored 18 tries to top the Sydney first grade scorers list and he was seen as a strong chance to secure the final spot for the Waratahs’ northern hemisphere tour. Unfortunately for Loudon the selectors opted for a fifth specialist lock in the form of his Manly club mate Geoff Bland.

In 1928 Loudon was named vice captain, under Syd Malcolm, of the state side that contained just two other 27/28 Waratahs - Bland and Cyril Towers - for the tour to New Zealand. When Malcolm fell victim to bronchitis ahead of the third Test Loudon became the 25th Wallaby to captain Australia at international level. A year later he played in Australia’s first home series victory over New Zealand however the name Loudon, rather incredibly, was then not seen at Test level for four long years.

Reports at the end of the 1931 season that Loudon had “definitely retired” to play golf thankfully proved to be temporary and some eighteen months later he was selected for the Wallabies’ first ever tour to South Africa. Loudon played in four of the five Tests and his form was ‘acclaimed by all South African critics.’ The following season, his swansong, Loudon was in the Alec Ross-led side which won Australia’s first Bledisloe Cup, played his 158th first grade match to break Jimmy Clarken’s 20-year record, and finished with 118 tries from 129 first grade club matches for Manly - a record which stood for 83 years.

In 1940 Loudon enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force, attached to the Army Service Corps’ 7th Division. Loudon saw action in the Middle East (1940-42), and in New Guinea (1943-44) where he attained the rank of Captain.

Bob Loudon won 13 caps in a rather extraordinary 12-year Test career.

Highlights

1923 Loudon made his ‘Test’ debut against New Zealand at Carisbrook when he replaced Danie Erasmus on the right wing after Erasmus was ‘collared by Snodgrass’. He shifted to the left wing for the second Test in Christchurch and remained there for the final international at Athletic Park.

1928 Now at flanker, Loudon started each of the four Tests played on the tour of New Zealand – three against New Zealand and the fourth against the Maori.

1929 Loudon was in the run-on XV, in place of Len Palfreyman who withdrew following the passing of his father, for the 2nd Test, 17-9 defeat of New Zealand in Brisbane.

1933 After Australia slumped to a 3-17 defeat in the 1st Test against South Africa in Cape Town, Loudon started in each of the series’ final four internationals.

1934 Loudon played his 13th and final Test when he was called up to replace the injured Aub Hodgson (leg) for the 2nd Test, 3-3 draw in Sydney.

Robert Briton Loudon
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