The Australian Rugby community is in mourning after the passing of one-Test Wallaby, Ken Yanz who passed away on Tuesday, aged 89.
Born and raised on Sydney’s north shore, Yanz was a big, tough, intimidating backrower who terrorized Sydney’s inside backs during the 1950’s with his aggressive defensive style.
Yanz took up the game as a young child with Lane Cove-Artarmon Juniors in the 1940s, before linking with Gordon out of school and making his Sydney First Grade debut with the Highlanders in 1951.
After helping to propel Gordon to a Grand Final appearance in 1956, Yanz was chosen in a New South Wales XV against Victoria, but the following year did not feature in the representative sides during the 1957 All Blacks tour.
Australian selectors then shocked the Rugby world ahead of the 1957/58 Wallabies tour of the British Isles, picking a host of relative unknowns, including Yanz who at the time was still yet to make his proper New South Wales debut ahead of the likes of established stars Keith Cross and ‘Chilla’ Wilson.
Yanz went on to play in 19 of the 41 matches on tour and was rewarded with a Test debut in the final international against France in Paris. Although there was no score in the first half, the Wallabies could not stay with the brilliant French team and lost 19-0.
While Yanz would never feature in another Test match for Australia, he returned home and played for New South Wales and captained his club Gordon, where he set a then-club record for games played. He will forever be Wallaby number 437.