William Joseph Calcraft
- 648Wallaby Number
Bill Calcraft was a fearless, industrious flanker who went about his work without fuss or fanfare and became an integral part of Australia’s golden era of the mid-1980s. Calcraft also came from good rugby stock as his uncle, Bill Gunther (Wallaby #427), a star back-rower for New South Wales Country during its golden era of the late 1950s, who played against New Zealand in 1957 and then toured with the Fourth Wallabies to the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and North America in 1957-58.
Calcraft was born in Sydney and educated at The Scots College where he played two years in the 1st XV (1974-75). After school Calcraft played his rugby with Manly. He was a member of the Marlins’ undefeated 1st grade Colts side of 1977, won selection for the NSW U20s against Queensland and made his senior first grade debut at 21. Calcraft then served an extended apprenticeship behind a host of top quality flankers including Simon Poidevin, Steve Tuynman, Peter Lucas and Andy Stewart in order to merely make the New South Wales side let alone Australia.
Calcraft’s big break came in 1983 when Manly, who had not won the Shute Shield since 1950, upset reigning five time champions Randwick 12-10 at the Sydney Sports Ground. The following year Calcraft made his debut for the Waratahs, against Queensland at Concord, and the very next day was chosen in the 26-man squad for the first Wallaby tour of Fiji. Calcraft then captained New South Wales on its successful short tour to New Zealand and rounded out an outstanding season when he was then picked for the Wallabies’ Grand Slam tour to the U.K. and Ireland. Calcraft played in 10 of the 18 matches however Poidevin, David Codey and Chris Roche were chosen on the flanks for the Tests. Nonetheless, coach Alan Jones held Calcraft in such high regard that he honoured him with the captaincy for the uncapped match against Pontypool despite the presence of 10 Test capped players in the Wallaby side.
A year later Canada arrived in Australia and Calcraft was chosen for his Test debut in Sydney. In 1986, Calcraft led the Waratahs in the inaugural South Pacific Championship, the forerunner to the professional era’s Super Rugby, and played Tests against both Italy and Argentina. He then won selection on the 14-match Wallaby tour to New Zealand. Once again he was part of history as Australia became just the fourth team ever to win a series on New Zealand soil.
Calcraft then left Australia for Oxford University where he won two rugby Blues (1986-87). Whilst in the U.K. Calcraft made several appearances for the famed Barbarians club and in 1987 captained the side on its famous three match Easter tour of Wales.
Bill Calcraft played three Tests for Australia, 18 tour matches and went on three Wallaby tours in a three-year international career.
Calcraft toured to Fiji and later won selection on the Eighth Wallabies tour of the U.K. and Ireland.
Calcraft won his first Test cap as a starting flanker in combination with Steve Tuynman and Simon Poidevin in the 1st Test, 59-3 triumph over Canada at the S.C.G.
Calcraft started on the flank, again alongside Tuynman and Poidevin, in the 1st Test, 39-18 victory over Italy in Brisbane and in the 2nd Test, 26-0 defeat of Argentina in Sydney. He also captained Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.