John Hipwell was one of Australia's finest ever scrumhalves who was admired throughout the world for his strong, resolute displays. He was an explosive runner and an aggressive tackler, often acting as an extra loose forward.
In 1966, at the age of 19, he played for NSW Country against the touring British Lions. He then joined the 1966-67 Wallaby tour of the UK, France and Canada. However he did not win his first Test cap until 1968 against New Zealand, when he replaced Ken Catchpole who suffered a career-ending injury.
From his first Test appearance, Hipwell's place was cemented in the team. He toured to the UK in 1968, South Africa in 1969 and France in 1971. He took over the captaincy against England at Twickenham in 1973 and held that post for nine Tests.
He captained the touring team to the United Kingdom in 1975 until injury in the Test against Wales forced him off the field and out of the team. His knee was so badly damaged that doctors doubted he would return to the international game. However, in 1978 he made his comeback to the international arena in the three-Test series against New Zealand. Three years later, his resilience and longevity was demonstrated when he played against France and went on the 1981-82 tour of the UK.
Hipwell's Wallaby career spanned 14 season, from 1968 when he was passing to flyhalf John Ballasty, to 1981 when Mark Ella was taking receipt of his bullet passes. He received the Order of Australia Medal in 1982.
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21 MAY 2013