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The Australian Rugby community is in mourning following the sudden death of former Wallaby captain and Hall of Fame inductee John Hipwell OAM, who passed away on Monday at the age of 65.
A remarkable scrumhalf known to his friends as ‘Hippy’, Hipwell achieved much both on and off the field and was considered one of the world’s best in his day.
He played in 36 Tests and captained Australia in nine internationals and a further nine non-Test appearances. Following his playing career, he was bestowed the honour of the Order of Australia Medal in 1982 and inducted into the Wallabies Hall of Fame in 2006.
Classic Wallabies program manager and former Wallabies teammate Geoff Shaw said Hipwell had made a significant impact over almost 20 years of representing Australia.
“John Hipwell was a Wallaby captain, a great bloke and a very close friend of ours,” Shaw said.
“He played for a very long time and made a lot of friends. He will be missed.”
One of the Newcastle region’s many famed scrumhalves, Hipwell’s long representative career started in 1966, when he made his debut for NSW Country as an 18-year-old against the touring British & Irish Lions.
Later that year, he toured with the Wallabies for the first time, when the side travelled to the British Isles, France and Canada. He played in 10 tour matches with the Wallabies that year, but didn’t make his international debut until two years later.
His Test debut came as replacement scrumhalf against New Zealand on 15 June 1968 in a 27-11 loss to the All Blacks. The Test was a turning point for Hipwell, as it featured a career-ending injury to starting Australian scrumhalf Ken Catchpole.
Hipwell made his run-on debut in the following Test against New Zealand in a much closer match, which the Australians lost 19-18.
In 1973 he was given the honour of captaining the Wallabies for the first time, leading Australia against England at Twickenham.
Hipwell also had the unique honour of featuring on three Grand Slam tours for the Wallabies in 1966/67, 1975/76 and 1981/82.
Following his playing career, Hipwell focussed his Rugby knowledge on coaching at the schoolboy level at Rugby nurseries The Armidale School and Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane.
Hipwell is remembered as a powerful scrumhalf with a beautiful long pass and a defensive style that brought an edge to the teams he played in.
To go to John's Hall of Fame entry click here
John Noel Brian Hipwell
Date of birth
Place of birth
Date of death
Wallsend High School, Newcastle, NSW
NSW 27 (1968-81)