The Australian Rugby community is mourning the passing of 11-Test Wallaby and Waratah #882, James "Jim" Phipps, who passed away last week aged 89.
A superb Wallabies centre who dominated the Australian midfield in the mid-1950s, Phipps was a strong utility back and an impenetrable defender.
Born in Batavia, Java, Indonesia, Phipps and his family relocated to Sydney at the commencement of the Second World War. He and his three brothers attended Barker College and undertook their apprenticeship in Rugby.
A standout schoolboy athlete, Phipps excelled in both athletics and swimming, and was awarded school colours in 1948 and 1949 for both sports. A powerful competitor, the outside back also played in the college's 1st XV for three consecutive seasons between 1947 and 1949, where he was awarded with representative selection in his final year.
Following the completion of High School, Phipps attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College, where he was approached by representatives of the Gordon Rugby Club to train with their senior side. Phipps accepted the offer, trained with First Grade, and played in the Grand Final alongside then Australian captain Trevor Allan in his first game for the club.
In 1952, Phipps was chosen for the City of Sydney against the touring Fijians and then found himself as a reserve back for both New South Wales and Australia. Later that season, Phipps went on his first Wallaby tour to New Zealand, where he played six non-Test matches.
Phipps represented New South Wales on 11 occasions between 1953-57 scoring 11 tries. Phipps’ five try haul against Queensland at North Sydney Oval in 1955 is still the record for most individual tries in a match for NSW v Queensland.
In 1953 he toured South Africa and was named to make his Test debut in Johannesburg. From that debut, Phipps played in eleven consecutive Tests through to the end of the home series against the Springboks in 1956.
On his return to Australia in 1957 following an injury afflicted tour, he retired from both representative and club rugby. However, he kept a high profile as a coach, referee and club administrator. Jim Phipps played 11 Tests for Australia in a four-year international career.
Phipps is survived by wife Gillian, daughter Debbie, son David and grandchildren Daniel, Charles, Lon and Ella.
Vale James "Jim" Phipps