Wallaby Captain John Solomon Dies
One of the best rugby pictures ever had John Solomon as its central figure. He is being carried off Newlands by two Springbok forwards, Chris Koch and Ernst Dinkelmann, after his Wallabies had beaten the Springboks on the famous ground. It was the first time that the Springboks had lost a Test match since 1938.
In that Test South Africa led 11-3 at half-time, but, despite a crocked knee, Solomon, captain of the Wallabies, moved from wing to inside centre and stayed on to see his team home. Solomon, a medical student at Sydney University, was 23 at the time.
Solomon started playing rugby at Coegee Preparatory School near his home before developing it at Scots College, an all-boy Presbyterian school, one of Sydney’s Great Public Schools. At Scots, he was in the 1st XV with Max Elliott and Dave Brockhoff who also became Wallabies.
The son of a medical doctor, Solon read medicine at Sydney University and played for the club, one of the oldest in the rugby world, being founded in 1864.
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- Picture credit: Rugby Australia
Solomon was first chosen to play for Australia in 1949 when he was still a teenager. He was on the wing but in his 14-Test career he also played inside centre and flyhalf for Australia. His first Test in 1949 was against Fiji but later than year he played in the two Tests that beat the All Blacks at Wellington and then Auckland to win the Bledisloe Cup on New Zealand soil for the first time.
In 1952 he became Australia’s captain and the next year captained the popular Wallabies on a 27-match tour of South Africa and Rhodesia. They were a popular team for the expansive rugby they played and, though they lost the Test series 3-1, the second Test was the most famous match of the tour – the one at the great old Newlands ground. The try scored from their own line and ended with a 60-yard sprint by Garth Jones with Hennie Muller chasing him all the way, is one of the most famous in rugby history. South Africa were leading 14-13 at the time. Australia won 18-14.
Solomon, who played 17 times for New South Wales, went on to captain Australia against the All Blacks in 1955, before retiring from rugby to concentrate on his medical studies. He stayed connected to the University club where he became a successful coach.
Herbert John Solomon was born in Randwick, Sydney, on 15 October 1929 and died in Sydney after a long illness on 18 March 2020.