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The Australian and New South Wales Rugby community is mourning the loss of former New South Wales and Wallabies inside centre, Peter Phipps, who passed away on Friday, aged 84.
Phipps’ family is well known in rugby circles, with his brother Jim having also played for the Wallabies, and his great-nephew, Nick Phipps, the current Wallaby scrumhalf.
Peter Phipps played four non-Test matches in the Wallabies jersey and was unlucky to never represent the Wallabies in a Test match.
Phipps learnt to play rugby at Barker College in Sydney under the guidance of the sports master, ex- Olympian sprinter Jim Carlton. Upon finishing secondary school, Phipps played for Hawkesbury Agricultural College and then Gordon Rugby Club, where his older two brothers John and Jim also played.
His formidable partnership with his brother Jim in the centres saw Peter selected for the NSW team in 1955 which played Queensland, as a selection trial for the upcoming Wallabies tour to New Zealand. In his debut NSW match, he came on as a first half replacement and went on to score two tries. His brother Jim scored five in the same match.
Peter’s try-scoring and pulverising defensive skills were enough to land him a Wallabies squad berth for the 1955 tour across the Tasman. Alongside his older brother Jim, he played four non-Test matches on the New Zealand tour, all of which were won by Australia. He was then selected for the second Test against New Zealand but was agonisingly forced to withdraw in the lead up due to a knee injury, which ruled him out of the rest of the tour.
One year later, after showing his fine form playing for Gordon and NSW, Phipps suffered another unfortunate injury – this time to his back. It was eventually found to be two broken vertebrae, which signalled the end of his representative rugby career.
Despite his ill-fortune in never getting the opportunity to play a Test match, Peter retained a great interest in the game, coaching and refereeing various teams and games in the Armidale and wider country NSW areas.
Classic Wallabies Manager, Stephen Hoiles said: “The Phipps brothers were rugby icons of their generation, and legendary at Gordon Rugby Club, known for their talent and for their devotion to the game. While Peter was unlucky not to ever earn a Test cap, plenty of people would vouch that he certainly deserved one.
“On behalf of all Wallabies, past and present and the entire Rugby community, we pass on our sincere condolences to the entire Phipps family."
A service of celebration and thanksgiving for the life of Peter will be held at Kincumber Anglican Ministry Centre, 109 Avoca Dr Kincumber on Friday 2nd June 2017 at 2.00pm.