Arthur Summons

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Arthur James Summons
Arthur Summons.jpg
Summons in 2008
Full name Arthur James Summons
Date of birth (1935-12-13) 13 December 1935 (age 81)[1]
Place of birth Paddington, New South Wales[1]
School Homebush High School
Spouse Pam
Occupation(s) Teacher, Club Manager
Rugby league career
Position Half-back
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team    
1965-67 Wagga Magpies
Professional clubs
Years Club / team Apps (points)
1960-64 Wests Magpies 60 (33)
Correct as of 31 December 2007
State Representation
Years Club / team Apps (points)
1961-63 New South Wales 7 (0)
Correct as of 31 December 2007
National teams
Years Club / team Apps (points)
1961-64 Australia 9 (12)
Correct as of 31 December 2007
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Fly half[1]
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team    
1954-59 Gordon RFC
Correct as of 31 December 2007
National team(s)
Years Club / team Apps (points)
1956–1959[1] Australia 10[1]
Correct as of 31 December 2007

Arthur James Summons (born 13 December 1935 in Paddington, Sydney, Australia) is a former Australian representative rugby union and rugby league player, a dual-code rugby international fly-half or five-eighth. He captained the Australian national rugby league team in five undefeated Tests from 1962 to 1964 and later also coached the side.

Schoolboy representative[edit]

Summons was educated at the publicly funded selective Homebush Boys High School where he captained the school's first grade rugby union side. He represented for Combined High Schools and later captained a Sydney Combined Teacher's College side. He had also played junior Rugby League with the Mount Pritchard club..

Rugby union career[edit]

He was graded with the Gordon Rugby Union Club and first represented for the Wallabies in tour matches against the Springboks in 1956. He toured the British Isles on 1957–58 Australia rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland and France, making his full debut in the first Test of the tour against Wales at Cardiff. He played in four Tests of the tour only missing the France Test. During the 1958 seasons he made four Test appearances against firstly the New Zealand Māori rugby union team and then three times against the All Blacks on the Wallaby tour of New Zealand. He made two further test appearances against the visiting British Lions in Sydney in 1959, concluding his rugby union career with ten total Wallaby Test caps.[1]

Rugby league career[edit]

With a young family and needing to improve his financial position, Summons signed with Western Suburbs in 1960. He played in the 3 consecutive heart breaking Wests Grand final losses to St George between 1961 and 1963.

He first represented for Australia in rugby league in 1961 against New Zealand appearing in six matches on tour including two Tests. He played in the two 1962 test losses against Great Britain before he was appointed captain for the 3rd Test with Reg Gasnier and Keith Barnes ruled out. Australia won the game 18-17 following a Ken Irvine late sideline conversion of his own try.

His international rugby league debut in the 1st Test against New Zealand in Auckland on 1 July 1961 saw Summons become Australia's 26th dual code rugby international, following Rex Mossop and preceding Michael Cleary.

In 1963 Summons lead Australia to wins against New Zealand, against South Africa and later that year on the Kangaroo tour of Britain for which he was appointed captain-coach.[2] He missed all three tour Tests against the Lions but masterminded the Ashes victory, establishing a plan to dominate the British through the forwards. This was the first series victory on British soil for Australia. He captained Australia to victory in two Tests on the French Leg of the tour but did not represent again.

He finished his club career in Australia, playing five seasons with the Wagga Magpies and working as Secretary-Manager of the Wagga Wagga Leagues Club. He was made a Life Member of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In February 2008, Summons was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.[3][4]

The Gladiators[edit]

Summons is the subject of one of the most memorable sporting photographic images ever captured in Australia. The 1963 NSW Rugby League Premiership Grand Final between long term rivals Western Suburbs and St George was played in a torrential downpour on Saturday, 24 August. This, combined with the fact that the centre cricket pitch area of Sydney Cricket Ground was notoriously muddy in such conditions, ensured that the players were not only saturated but also caked in mud from head to toe. At the conclusion of the hard fought match which was won by St George, the captains of the two teams, the very tall Norm Provan and more diminutive Summons respectively, embraced in appreciation of each other's stoic efforts. The moment was captured by a newspaper photographer, John O'Gready, and published in the following day's Sun Herald. Subsequently the image won several awards, becoming known as The Gladiators Arthur has recently said that "The Gladiators" is actually Arthur complaining about the referees decision to Norm Provan. This image was the inspiration for the current premiership trophy's bronze statue.

In 2008 the Western Suburbs Magpies celebrated their centenary by inducting six inaugural members into the club's Hall of Fame. These six included Summons.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f " player profile of Arthur Summons". Retrieved 22 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "Kangaroos Team (Rugby League) - 1963". Team Sport Australia Award. Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Peter Cassidy (23 February 2008). "Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players". Macquarie National News. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Centenary of Rugby League - The Players". NRL & ARL. 23 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-23. [dead link]
  5. ^ (2008). "Western Suburbs Magpies Hall of Fame". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies R.L.F.C. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 


  • Whiticker, Alan & Hudson, Glen (2006) The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players, Gavin Allen Publishing, Sydney
  • Whiticker, Alan(2004) Captaining the Kangaroos, New Holland, Sydney

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Reg Gasnier
Australian national rugby league captain
Succeeded by
Billy Wilson