Tom Lawton, Snr

Tom Lawton
Full name Tom Lawton
Date of birth 16 January 1899
Place of birth Cungumbogan, Queensland
Date of death 1 July 1978
Place of death Greenslopes, Queensland
School Brisbane Grammar School
University University of Queensland
Sydney University [1]
Oxford University
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Stand-off half
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)



Queensland University
Past Grammar
Sydney University
Oxford University RFC
Western Suburbs
Valley Brisbane
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
New South Wales
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1920-32 Wallabies 14 (60)

Tom Lawton Snr (16 January 1899 1 July 1978) was an Australian rugby union player, a state and national representative five-eighth who made 44 appearances for the Wallabies, played in 14 Test matches and captained the national side on ten occasions.

Schoolboy sports star

Born at Waterford, Queensland he entered Brisbane Grammar School in 1913 where he excelled at sport. He represented in the school's first XI for four years, was captain in 1916 & 1917; adjudged best fielder in 1915 & 1916 and topped the batting average in 1917. He rowed in the school VIII for three years, played tennis, won at athletics and was school swimming champion and school captain in 1917. He played in the school's rugby first XV for three years and was the best back in 1916 and 1917.

The Great War & university

In 1918 he was a gunner in France with the 12th Field Artillery Brigade of the AIF. After the war he commenced a science degree at the University of Queensland. He represented for Queensland in rugby union in 1919 the final year before the sport massively lost its popularity to rugby league prompting the Queensland Rugby Union hiatus that lasted until 1929.

In 1920 he transferred to Sydney University to pursue his medical studies at St. Andrew's College. He played rugby at the Sydney University club. He won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in 1922 residing at New College. He played sixty games in 1922-23 for Oxford, Blackheath, New College and the Barbarians. He was selected to captain the Oxford side but was challenged for having played rugby league in his career. He represented Oxford in athletics, swimming and water polo.

Representative career

His representative debut was in 1920 when selected for the New South Wales Waratahs to appear against the All Blacks. He scored a try and kicked three goals in his representative debut. With no Queensland Rugby Union competition in place at that time the New South Wales Waratahs were the top Australian representative rugby union side of the period and a number of Waratah matches of the 1920s played against full international opponents were in 1986 decreed by the Australian Rugby Union as Test matches.

After returning to Sydney from Oxford in 1925 he was immediately given the captaincy of New South Wales for the 1925 tour to New Zealand. He played as captain in nine of the eleven games and top scored with 49 points. Lawton was selected for the 1927-28 Waratahs tour of Britain, France and Canada. He played in 27 matches of the tour exceeded only by Wylie Breckenbridge (29), and Alex Ross (29). He was the top point scorer (124 points) and played in all five Test matches of the tour.

In 1929 the All Blacks toured Australia, Lawton captained the first truly national Wallabies side fielded since 1914 which was the first national side in history to beat the All Blacks 3-0 in a series whitewash. When the British and Irish Lions toured Australia in 1930 he captained the Wallabies, Queensland and an invitational XV against them. His representative career ended in 1932 aged 33 years after he led Australia and Queensland against the touring All Blacks.

Rugby lineage

In 2007 Lawton was honoured in the third tranche of inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame. His grandsons Tom Jnr and Rob also both became Wallabies - Rob as a Prop forward made four test appearances from 1988 to 1989, Tom Jnr a Hooker earned 41 caps between 1983 and 1989. In 2007 he was honoured in the third set of inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame, and in 2013 he was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.[2]

Tom Lawton in action against England at Twickenham Jan 1928




  1. "St Andrew's College Wallabies". Planet Rugby. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  2. "Legends inducted into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
Preceded by
Charlie Fox
Australian national rugby union captain
Succeeded by
Johnnie Wallace
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