Australian Rugby has lost one of its most beloved early post-War Wallabies with the passing of 10-Test backrower, Arthur Buchan on Saturday, aged 95.
Buchan was the country’s premier number 8 in the immediate aftermath of World War II, who arrived on the Test scene in the opening match of the 1946 Bledisloe Cup series in New Zealand.
Easily recognisable in his trademark headgear and blessed with the speed of a back, Buchan was known for his supreme fitness, harnessed from his days in surf lifesaving, and for being without peer as a cover defender.
Born and raised in Sydney, he was awarded a bursary while at Bankstown Public School to attend Sydney Technical High School. He went on to captain the school and starred as a brilliant student before enrolling in Science at the University of Sydney.
While studying at the famous Sydney rugby nursery, Buchan played his club rugby for Randwick.
In 1945 he made his representative debut for NSW against Queensland. and a year later emerged from the state trials with a “stamp of class” to earn his spot on the Wallaby Tour of New Zealand.
Buchan hit the ground running in the opening match against North Auckland where he twice “came from the clouds” to nail the great Maori and All Black centre Johnny Smith in try-saving tackles.
Buchan went on to be honoured with the captaincy in the uncapped match against Canterbury and play his maiden Test at Carisbrook in Dunedin, a match that was lost by the Wallabies 8-31. He would then suit up again for the second Test thriller at Eden Park, won 14-10 by the All Blacks.
After playing the All Blacks again at home in 1947, he was one of the first players chosen for the third Wallabies Tour to the UK and Europe and started in all five internationals. It was on this tour that he stamped his legacy as one of the finest number 8’s to have worn the gold jersey with the Australians winning three of the five Test matches.
Two years later, Buchan belatedly won his final Test cap in an 18-3 triumph over New Zealand Maori at the SCG, capping off a four-year international career.
As a teacher, Buchan was then transferred to Murwillumbah High School and, with rugby not played in the area, turned out for South Murwillumbah in the Richmond rugby league competition. His legacy to rugby remains in the current era with the Arthur Buchan Shield awarded annually to the NSW U16s Combined High School champions.
As well starring on the rugby field, Buchan’s other lifelong passions were surf lifesaving and education. His decorated teaching career culminated in his appointment as Deputy Director General of the NSW Education Department in the early 1980’s.
Until his passing on Saturday, Buchan (95 and 266 days) was the second-eldest living Wallaby after Eric Tweedale (99).