William John Gunther
- 427Wallaby Number
Bill Gunther was a courageous, physical and tireless flanker who emerged from Country rugby to win a Test cap in the late 1950s. Former Wallaby, Wallaby coach and Australian Rugby Union president Bill McLaughlin once described Gunther as “pound for pound, probably the most devastating tackler ever to play for Australia”.
Industrious, resolute and determined, Gunther was born in Bathurst and educated at St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill before he moved on to Wagga Wagga Agricultural College. In his early career Gunther played his rugby in Wagga Wagga, Bathurst, Wellington and, when he moved back to Orange in 1953, the Emus Club with fellow future Wallabies Don Strachan and Bruce Wells. The following year he linked up with the newly formed Molong club where he played and coached from 1954 to 1961. The club won the Central West premiership in their first year. It was from Molong that Gunther was selected for Central West, New South Wales Country and, in 1957, New South Wales when he debuted against the touring All Blacks.
After Australia succumbed to an 11-25, 1st Test defeat the selectors made four changes in the forwards for Brisbane and Gunther was called up to make his Test debut. Gunther was then chosen for the Fourth Wallabies tour to the British Isles, France and North America where he played in 15 matches. Unfortunately, Gunther did not play in any of the Tests due to a persistent knee injury and the presence in the party of ‘Mac’ Hughes, John Thornett and Peter Fenwicke.
Bill Gunther played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #427.
Gunther won his first Test cap in the back row alongside fellow debutant Dave Emanuel and Keith Cross in the 2nd Test, 9-22 loss to New Zealand in Brisbane.