Peter Fenwicke - our home-grown Wallaby captain

1953 New England first Grade Major Premiers with their coach Keith Cummins (centre back row) and captain Peter Fenwicke (centre front row)

1953 New England first Grade Major Premiers with their coach Keith Cummins (centre back row) and captain Peter Fenwicke (centre front row)

In the lead up to the Walcha Rams' quasquicentennial celebrations the Walcha News is publishing a weekly excerpt from Graham Croker's 1994 book on the history of rugby union in Walcha 'Memories from Scrum and Ruck', which was written to mark the club's centenary year. This instalment from Chapter 13 captures a few moments from the amazing career of the town's home-grown Wallaby captain Peter Fenwicke.

"On arrival home from The King's School in 1951 the 17-year-old Peter Fenwicke was made captain of the Walcha Club, a position he held until his retirement in 1963."

And some years later: "When he made his Test debut at 24, against the All Blacks in 1957, Fenwicke was the youngest member of the Australian pack to run onto the Sydney Cricket Ground. Fenwicke came up against the All Blacks again when New England met the tourists at Kitchener Oval, Gunnedah.

Playing his third successive game against an international side in the north, he turned in a display that justified his ranking as one of the best loose forwards in Australia. Fenwicke only had to maintain form to be selected in the 30-man tour of tours, a 41-match trek through the British Isles, Canada and North America which took up most of the 1957-58 Australian summer. "

News of his selection reached town several days before Walcha played Inverell in the Group 5 rugby league grand final played at the Showground. Fenwicke was invited to the grand final by the Walcha Rugby League and introduced to the 2000-strong crowd who stood as one and cheered, clapped and tooted motor horns.

He was then accorded the honour of commencing the match with a token kick off. A public farewell was later organised by the Walcha Shire Council. Held in front of the Council offices, the farewell attracted a large crowd with the Town Band also in attendance.

'I owe everyone a lot for their encouragement and it is a very hard debt to pay, but I will try to repay you all by being a good ambassador of this country and of Walcha', he said."

And later: "From 1958 Fenwicke was a regular starter in the NSW, he captained the side from 1959 and there were five straights wins under his leadership against Queensland and the visiting British and Irish Lions when he was national captain."

It is only fitting that last Saturday at 'the Park', the venue he played his rugby and cricket for Walcha - where visiting teams dread cold, blistery, sleety Saturday afternoons and only recover with the warmth of the post-match welcome - was officially named Peter Fenwicke Oval.