Ronald Regnor Biilmann
- 282Wallaby Number
Ron Biilmann was a fine, country-born, all-round sportsman who was chosen for Australia’s first ever tour to South Africa and played a key role in the Wallabies’ historic second Test victory over the mighty Springboks. Born in Berridale, Biilmann grew up in Jindabyne and attended Monaro Grammar School, Cooma and then at All Saints’ College, Bathurst where played three seasons in the 1st XV (1924-26). A prominent sportsman in the Central West, Biilmann was also a promising cricket allrounder who in 1929 opened the bowling and the batting for Bathurst against the visiting NSW Cricket Association XI and secured the wickets of Sir Donald Bradman and Arthur Chipperfield.
In the same year, he began playing senior rugby and represented Combined Country 3rd XV and in 1930 was chosen for Western Districts against Queensland. Two years later he delivered a sound display for Western Districts against the All Blacks and as a result was invited to play for New South Wales against Queensland as part of a series of trials for the South African tour. While that match was described as “an uninspiring affair” it also “revealed a five-eighth of class in Ron Biilmann”. He then “did some fine things” in the final trial, for NSW v. The Rest, and as a consequence was selected as one of two fly halves in the squad. Solid form in the early tour matches earned Biilmann a Test debut at Cape Town where he “again showed improved form”.
In the second Test at Durban Australia played a near-faultless game and won 21-6. Biilmann landed three conversions and a penalty goal as the Wallabies beat the Springboks for the first time. Disaster struck in the opening minute of the fourth Test when tear-away Springbok flanker Fred Smollan tackled Biilmann. The fly half fell awkwardly and suffered torn ankle ligaments to render him a virtual passenger for the entire match. With no replacements allowed the Wallabies were unable to rise above Biilmann’s crippling injury and the game was lost 0-11.
Upon his return to Australia Biilmann moved to Sydney and joined Eastern Suburbs however Campbell and Harold Primrose were preferred for the state matches while Queensland’s ‘Wally’ Lewis usurped him for the Tests. In 1935 Biilmann left Sydney for Longreach in Queensland where he switched codes and played rugby league.
Biilmann won his first Test cap at fly half, outside of Gordon Bennett in the 1st Test, 3-17 loss to South Africa at Newlands. He earned caps in the next three Tests before the ankle injury suffered in the opening minute of the 4th Test ruled him out of the rest of the tour.