John Solomon posing with the Bledisloe in 1952. Photo: Supplied
The Australian Rugby community is in mourning following the passing of 14-Test Wallaby utility back and captain, John Solomon after a protracted battle with illness.
The 2016 Hall of Famer was the 38th man to captain the Wallabies and was a part of the side that won the Bledisloe Cup on New Zealand soil in 1949, with Australia defeating the All Blacks in Wellington (11-6) and at Eden Park (16-9).
Born and raised in Sydney, Solomon attended The Scots College where he played two seasons in the 1st XV and was selected in the GPS 1st XV before emerging onto Sydney’s club Rugby scene in 1948.
Considered a highly rated talent, Solomon played for Sydney University before being picked at flyhalf for NSW against the inbound Queensland team, where he gave one of the best displays seen since before the outbreak of war.
In the subsequent year, Solomon represented the Australian Universities team that toured New Zealand and from there he was picked to make his Australian debut against a touring New Zealand Maori side in Sydney.
He would go on to appear 19 times for NSW between 1948-55, 6 times as captain 1952-55 and also coached the team in 1956.
Becoming a regular in the Wallabies side, Solomon was a part of the Australian team that won the first Bledisloe Cup on New Zealand soil in 1949 and would tour New Zealand again in 1952 where Australia won one of the two Test matches.
Again in 1952, Solomon was handed the captaincy of the Wallabies for a Test match against Fiji and for a tour to South Africa where Australia handed South Africa their first defeat at home in 15 years.
Such was the respect given to the visiting Wallabies and to Solomon, the man himself was chaired from the field on the shoulders of Springboks Chris Koch and Ernst Dinkelmann to the applause of the Cape Town crowd. The image captured is one of the most iconic in Australian Rugby history.
After this tour Solomon took a break from the game to focus on his medical studies before returning to playing in 1955.
Solomon will be forever Wallaby number 366.
John Solomon Wallabies Career Highlights
Solomon won his first Test cap on the left wing in the 3rd Test, 18-3 win over the New Zealand Maori at the S.C.G. Clarrie Davis and Ralph Garner were selected on the wings for the 1st Test of the away series to New Zealand however Davis pulled a leg muscle in the uncapped match against Southland a week prior to the second Test. Solomon came into the side as Davis’ replacement and scored his first Test try in the 16-9 victory at Eden Park.
Solomon started at fly half in combination with Cyril Burke in both home losses to the British Lions.
Solomon was capped at outside centre for the opening two Tests of the home series against New Zealand but was shifted to the wing for the final Test in Brisbane. Unfortunately he was a late withdrawal from the side due to a stomach disorder and Davis flew from Sydney on the morning of the match to take his spot on the left wing.
He led Australia from outside centre in all four Tests of the season against Fiji (2) and New Zealand (2) to become the 38th Wallaby to captain his country.
Solomon, as captain, started the opening two Tests of the South African series in the centre, outside of Jim Phipps. Unfortunately he was injured in the Cape Town victory and was later advised by a Bloemfontein specialist to have part of his knee cartilage removed. Solomon chose to delay the surgery until his return home and battled through the 3rd Test, again outside of Phipps, only to be controversially left out of the final international in order to find a spot for the goal-kicking Herb Barker. Upon his return from the Republic, Solomon announced his retirement from rugby so that he could concentrate on his medical exams. He also underwent an operation to remove the torn cartilage from his knee.
In his final season of international rugby Solomon led Australia from fly half in the 1st Test, 8-16 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park. Sadly his tour ended 20 minutes into the uncapped match against South Canterbury-North Otago-Mid Canterbury when he was thrown heavily and had to leave the field with a dislocated shoulder. As a result Gordon Davis and then Dick Tooth played fly half in the final two Tests of the series.
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