JOHNNY RAPER ST GEORGE & AUSTRALIA RUGBY LEAGUE LEGEND & THE BOWLER HAT
Johnny Raper Australia Rugby League Legend. A tribute from Ellis Rugby.
St George & Australia Rugby League player Johnny Raper tribute
On the 9th February 2022 surrounded by his family and close friends. Johnny Raper sadly passed away. Raper was an outstanding Australian Rugby League captain and Loose Forward. He also had an outstanding career for his club St George Dragons. In this Ellis Rugby Blog Post, we celebrate this wonderful player and the famous bowler hat story.
Inspirational Kangaroos Captain
Under Johnny Raper, the 1963 Kangaroos clinched The Ashes. By handing England a 50-12 thrashing at Swinton. Australia had won the first Test under lights in London. By 28-2 and all kinds of excuses were trotted out for the Lions team. This time there could be no excuse. As the Australians ran in for 12 tries. Raper was a key figure in nine of those tries. With his devastating tackling the most dominant feature of the game. Australia scored after 13 minutes. And six times more before half-time. A further five tries came after the break. With ten of Australia’s tries scored by backs.
Langlands, Gasnier & Raper three Rugby League Legends
Graeme Langlands’ 20 points in the match from two tries and seven goals. This was the highest individual point scoring effort in the history of Anglo- Australian Tests. Gasnier’s two tries gave him a record nine tries against Britain. Australia’s winning margin was the highest in the history of Tests. Eclipsing England’s 40-17 win in Sydney in 1958. England’s defeat was exaggerated when they finished with only 11 men. Having lost captain, Eric Ashton. And five-eighth, Frank Myler, through injury.
Johnny Raper Australia Rugby League best ever performance by a player
Raper’s performance was acclaimed by league chief. Bill Buckley, as the best by an Australian in the whole history of Rugby League. But Raper was only slightly ahead of Langlands, Gasnier, and the wingers. Ken Irvine (three tries) and Peter Dimond (two tries). This was also the match in which tough Test front-rower. Noel Kelly scored his only Test try.
1996 Ashes Series – Australia Rugby League v Great Britain Rugby League
When Great Britain next played Australia in 1966, in Australia. The replacement rule operated for the first time since 1924. A sensible rule which did not heavily penalise teams when players were injured. This time the Brits tried to slow down the Aussies with rough-house tactics. Bill Ramsey was sent off four minutes into the second half of the first Test. And Australia won 17-13. Cliff Watson was ordered off just after half-time in the second Test, Australia winning 19-14. This Test also saw the introduction of the mighty Artie Beetson to Test football. And he set up two of Ken Irvine’s three tries with clever passes. The tries made Irvine the highest try-scorer in the history of Tests.
The 1967 Ashes Series
The following year (1967). This great Australian outfit went back to defend The Ashes. This was under the new unlimited tackle law. They did it the hard way. Britain won the first Test 16-11. After Australian captain. Reg Gasnier cracked a bone in his leg. Raper suffered a fractured cheekbone. And Denis Manteit was sent off. The Kangaroos drew level by winning the second Test 17-11. After scores had been 2-2 at halftime. With Ron Coote, Noel Gallagher, and Tony Branson playing well in their first Tests.
Freezing Conditions for the Third Test
The third Test at Swinton was played in a snow storm. More than 20 tonnes of straw were spread over the field to allow a start. And in conditions that should have suited Britain. Australia’s devastating tackling restricted their opponents to one try. Raper returned triumphantly as Australia’s captain. And Coote and Johnny King ran in tries to give Australia an 11-3 win and The Ashes.
The Bowler Hat Story
The big story of the 1967 tour, however, was the infamous late-night walk through the streets of Ilkley. By a completely naked Australian wearing only a bowler hat. The identity of the man in the bowler hat has never been confirmed. Although Raper has appeared in advertisements with a bowler hat. And confessed he bought one in England.