Australian Rugby mourns the passing of Doctor Conrad James Primmer

by staff

The Australian Rugby Union has mourned the loss of Wallaby number 380, Doctor Conrad James Primmer.

Primmer played two Tests for the Wallabies and is credited with re-starting Rugby in Rockhampton in the 1960s.

On behalf of Australian Rugby, ARU Classic Wallaby Manager, Geoff Shaw passed on condolences to the family.

“It is with a great sense of sadness that we offer our condolences to the Primmer family at this difficult time.”

“Conrad had the honour of representing his country against our traditional rival, the All Blacks, in the finest tradition of Australian Rugby.

“A great servant of our sport, Conrad has set a wonderful example for the current Wallabies squad and we know he will be missed.”

Primmer was born in 1924 in Brisbane and due to family circumstances, he and his brother, Jack, grew up in an orphanage.

After completing his Junior Public Examination, Primmer left Brisbane Grammar School to join the Navy at the age of 15.

When World War Two broke out, Primmer was stationed on the HMAS Sydney alongside his brother Jack. He was involved in the Sydney’s action against and ultimate sinking of the Italian Cruiser, Bartolomeo Colleoni. He was stationed at Flinders Naval Depot when HMAS Sydney was sunk on 11 October 1941, taking 645 lives including his brother, Jack.

At the conclusion of the War, Primmer was accepted into Queensland University’s Faculty of Medicine, where his love of Rugby flourished.

Making his debut for Queensland against New South Wales in 1951, Primmer was selected to play for Australia in June of the same year, representing his country in two Test matches.

Later in life, after years of working abroad, Primmer moved to Rockhampton to practice as an obstetrician. With the revival of the Queensland Rugby Union in the 1960s, Primmer was instrumental in re-starting Rugby in Rockhampton.

After retiring from his practice, he moved to Samford Village and it was there that he heard the news of the discovery of the sunken HMAS Sydney after 66 years.

“I was so thrilled,” he remarked at the time. “It’s been so hard, so much grief and at my age, it’s nice to be able to finally settle down with some answers. It was very painful losing Jack but slowly my pain dissolved into an absolute fascination with the mystery surrounding the sinking of the Sydney.”