Spencer William 'Spanner' Brown
- 402Wallaby Number
‘Spanner’ Brown was one of the rare Wallaby backs whose Test debut was made after his 30th birthday. A slightly built fly half, Brown relied on his speed and silky ball-handling skills to survive. He was very well conditioned, an avid cross-country runner, highly disciplined and possessed a fine tactical mind.
Born in Cairns, Brown was raised in Sydney where he attended Manly High School and then Barker College. After he returned from the service, Brown played his club rugby for Manly.
In 1950 he was thrown into the representative cauldron against the touring British Lions. He started at fly half and scored a try for Metropolitan in their 17-26 defeat and five days later debuted for New South Wales when the state side recorded a famous 17-12 victory in Newcastle. Two years later, and despite not playing a state game that year, Brown was chosen for his first Wallaby tour to New Zealand. He played in three of the 10 matches however Murray Tate started at fly half in both Tests.
In 1953, Brown earned a spot on his second tour, To South Africa. Tate was preferred to Brown at Ellis Park where Australia was humbled 3-25. The selectors made five changes for Cape Town, three of which were in the backs, and Brown was called up to make his Test debut a month shy of his 32nd birthday. In a most memorable match, Garth Jones scored a try in the final minutes to give the Wallabies a deserved 18-14 victory and hand the Springboks their first defeat since 1938. A leg injury plagued Brown throughout 1954 and he retired at the end of the season.
‘Spanner’ Brown played three Tests for Australia in a one-year international career.
Brown won his first Test cap at fly half alongside Cyril Burke in the 2nd Test, 18-14 victory over South Africa at Cape Town. That halves pairing was retained for the final two Tests of that series.