Vale Wallabies Captain Peter Johnson

by staff

The Australian Rugby community is mourning the passing of former Wallabies captain, Wallaby number 453, Peter Johnson.  

The hooker, who passed away at his family home on Sydney's northern beaches on Tuesday, played 42 Test matches for Australia, including five as captain.

Johnson’s Rugby ability was noticed early at the Sydney Boys’ High School, from which he was picked in the GPS Second XV.

Johnson then began his club rugby career with Eastern Suburbs, moving between Sydney University and Randwick, though the latter was where he remained for much of his Rugby playing career amassing 215 First Grade matches.

His club legacy was recognised with his inclusion in the Randwick Team of the Century, in which he was selected ahead of Phil Kearns and Jim Brown, the player he replaced in first grade.

Johnson had his opportunity of representative Rugby at the age of 21, playing for South Harbour and the Australian Barbarians against the New Zealand Maori, with his form rewarded with his first Wallabies tour, a 1958 trip to New Zealand.

He played five of the 13 matches on that tour but didn’t get the chance to pull on a Test Cap.

In 1959 Johnson appeared for New South Wales and then was capped for the Wallabies in two Test matches against the visiting British Lions, beginning one of the most remarkable representative careers of any Wallaby.

Johnson played his final Test in 1971 against the Combined French team, where for the first time in his Test career he was replaced through injury.

He retired that same year at 34 years of age with 42 Tests to his name, surpassing the tally of Wallaby legend Tony Miller to become the most capped Wallaby of all time.

In all, Johnson played 92 matches for his country which included eight Wallaby tours, a significant achievement in a time when the Wallabies played far fewer Tests annually than in the modern era.

Johnson was passionate about Rugby, putting in long volunteer hours pushing the Waverley College roller on the school’s Queens Park fields.

Classic Wallabies Manager and former Wallaby, Stephen Hoiles said: “This is a terribly sad day for Australian Rugby and the Rugby community will pause to reflect on what was a remarkable career and life of a great Australian.

“Peter’s Test career spanned well over a decade in the period of amateur Rugby, highlighting his ability and dedication to the gold jersey.

“Well into his later part of life, Peter was successfully competing in marathons all around the world and set extremely high standards of a Wallaby both on and off the field.

“On behalf of all Wallabies, past and present and the entire Rugby community, we pass on our condolences to his wife Sue and the Johnson family. Rugby has lost one of its greats."