Wallaby greats Jon White and Ken Catchpole together in Wellington on Thursday. Photo: FARREN HOTHAMWELLINGTON was graced by the presence of two of the greats of 1960s rugby union this week.

While at Wellington, Ken Catchpole, the man regarded by many as Australia’s greatest ever scrumhalf, and the equally revered Jon White said their wins in South Africa during the 1963 tour was one of their finest memories.

Jon White, who played most of his football at Yeoval and was elevated into the Australian side from central west and NSW Country, remembers a brutal and exciting series.

“It was an absolutely grand era,” he said.

“Those two test wins in South Africa were fantastic. The second win put us in a position to win the series at Ellis Park down below the mountains at Bloemfontein.

“It was an extreme altitude and not many have done it since.”

Catchpole captained Australia 13 times and with Phil Hawthorne at flyhalf helped revive Australian rugby when it had gone through tough times.

“It is wonderful to catch up with Jon again, great times,” he said

Illness has stopped the Hall of Fame legend in the sport from going out much these days but Catchpole still keeps a close eye on his beloved Wallabies

“I watch on television, I go to one match or two a year,” he stated.

White stayed with rugby as a selector and cherishes his bush experience and still lives in the Wellington/Yeoval area now.

Australian Rugby Union, he said, has blessed with bush stars such as Cumnock’s Tim Gavin, Dubbo’s Beau Robinson and Bathurst’s Marty Roebuck as well as many more.

But despite that he is concerned the rugby nursery in the country doesn’t have the same opportunity as it did when he was running around.

“There isn’t any pathway anymore,” he said.

“We played for Central West, then NSW Country against City and then NSW. So there was a pathway.

“You’ve got to play in Sydney for you to get noticed, nobody gets looked at it in the country.”

White, who played 25 times for the Wallabies in the second and front rows, also believes the game needs to open up more.

“It’s a defensive game, the defence is spot on but I think they should stand back and make the game from free running,” he said, before adding the duo were in agreement that while the amateur days and players are now a bygone era, rugby hasn’t changed that much.

“If you don’t have a front row you struggle and things to make good football then are the same now, the ability to gather the highball, these never change,” White added.

The pair also shared a laugh when discussing something else they agreed on – forwards finding themselves in the backline usually leads to things going awfully wrong.

“I tear my hair out when I see a fat forward out there stuffing up a good backline movement,” White said.

“They lumber in the backline and muck it up.”

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