The Australian Rugby community is mourning the loss of 10-Test Wallabies
flyhalf and dual-code international, Arthur Summons who passed away on Saturday
night, aged 84.
While more famous for his exploits in Rugby League, where he is
immortalised in the iconic ‘Gladiators’ photo alongside rival captain Norm
Provan that is depicted in the NRL premiership trophy, Summons played both
codes as a youngster and was a Rugby star at Homebush Boys High and later for
Gordon Rugby Club in Sydney.
He wasn’t long graded at Gordon before Summons was called up for his
first senior representative match for New South Wales against Queensland in
1956, and soon thereafter faced the touring Springboks.
The following year, the skilful half was selected for Australia’s tour
of the British Isles and France, where he stepped out in the Test arena for the
first time against Wales at Cardiff, aged 22 years and 22 days as a shock
selection ahead of Wallabies mainstay, Dick Tooth.
Summons went on to play four of the five Tests on that tour, striking an
immediate rapport with scrumhalf Des Connor and crossed for what would be
his only Test try in the loss to Ireland at Lansdowne Road.
He remained the first choice flyhalf for the Wallabies leading into the
1958 season, where he ran out in four more Tests, including the three-Test
series against New Zealand across the ditch. It was there, in the second Test
in Christchurch, that he tasted victory for the first and only time as a
Wallaby in a bruising 6-3 triumph at Lancaster Park.
Summons made two further Test appearances, against the visiting British
Lions in Brisbane and Sydney in 1959, concluding his international Rugby career
with 10 caps before making the switch to Rugby League to join Western Suburbs.
The Paddington-born five-eighth led the Magpies to three consecutive
Grand Finals, all ending in defeat to the dominant St George Dragons, along the
way becoming the country’s 28th dual-code international when he pulled on the
Kangaroos jersey for the first time in 1961.
After nine Rugby League Tests, Summons went on to Coach the Australian
side and was later voted in the top 100 Rugby League players in the first
century of the game.
Summons passed away peacefully in his home town of Wagga Wagga, NSW
after an extended battle with cancer.
Known for being the ultimate “Gentleman”, Summons will forever
be Wallaby number 431.