Robert Louis Challoner
- 16Wallaby Number
Bob Challoner was an English-born forward who brought tremendous experience in rugby when he migrated to Australia in 1899. He played for Moseley in Birmingham and Midland Counties from 1892 to 1898. He won a Midland Counties Cup medal in 1895 when Moseley beat Coventry 7-0 in the final at Warwick and again in 1897 when Moseley defeated Old Edwardians 12-5 in the final at the Villa Park. He was Moseley’s vice-captain for two seasons before moving to Australia in 1899. Challoner played rugby in the Western Districts of NSW in 1899 and made an instant impression on the NSW selectors with his English style of play.
He was selected to represent NSW against Queensland in the same year with Norman Street and Robert Bouffler, two other members from the Western District. NSW won 11 to 5. After three games for NSW he went into the Australian team as hooker for the second Test against the visiting British team in Brisbane. Australia lost 11 to nil, and this was to be his only international match. Challoner joined Eastern Suburbs Club in Sydney with Norman Street’s brother, Harold, in 1901. He played a further four games for NSW, which tallied to 10 matches for NSW before he retired from rugby. There had to be a modicum of surprise when Challoner was picked for the second Test against the Great Britain side in 1899. He was not selected for the NSW team, or even the Metropolis team or the first Test team that year. Yet surprisingly he was one of the NSW players to be invited to play in the second Test at the Bowen Exhibition Ground, Brisbane.
The Australian team on his debut was Bob McCowan (capt.), Tom Ward, Lonnie Spragg, Alec Henry, Peter Ward, ‘Poley’ Evans, Ernie Currie, Arthur Corfe, Bob Challoner, Charlie Ellis, ‘Paddy’ Carew, Hyam Marks, Norm Street, Bill Tanner and Charlie Graham. The British team fought back after its first Test loss, and won 11 to 0. He performed well enough in the defeat. The Sydney Morning Herald noted: “For Australia McCowan, Evans, Ward, Currie, Carew, Ellis, Challoner and Marks did excellent work.” It counted for nought. He did play for NSW in the 5 to 11 loss, and for Western Districts (0-19), but was never picked for Australia again. However he did play for Eastern Suburbs, and captained them in 1902. Though it was a disappointing season, Eddie Kann wrote in Easts Rugby Story: “They possessed the FINEST, ALL-ROUND FORWARD DIVISION OF THE YEAR in ‘Jersey’ Flegg, Challoner, Beaumont, Underwood, Buchanan, River, Mortimer, Barrington. “ It appears as if he retired this year.