John Raper

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Career Stats & Summary

Vital Statistics

Full Name
John William Raper
Born
Wednesday, 12th April, 1939
Current Age
79 years and 8 days

Awards & Accolades

Harry Sunderland Medal
1964
Australian Hall Of Fame
2002

Known Family Links

Son
Aaron Raper
Son
Stuart Raper
Brother
Ron Raper
Brother
Maurie Raper
Brother
Gerard Raper
Brother
Peter Raper

Biography

Rated the greatest lock forward the game has produced, there are some judges who rank the intractable Johnny Raper above Messenger and Churchill as the greatest player - if not the greatest personality – rugby league has seen. Raper tackled his love of the game, and his life off the football field, with equal intensity. A member of a noted footballing family that grew up in Revesby, author Gary Lester (Berries to Bulldogs, 1984) claims that the champion forward could have been in fact a C’bury junior. At 18, the budding champion was graded from the Newtown President's Cup team after being supplied with a false address by the club in order to get around the strict residential qualification laws at the time. Raper represented Sydney Colts against Great Britain in 1958 but his career went into overdrive with St George the following year. In a brilliant 1959 season Raper played for NSW, Australia in three Tests against NZ (making his Test debut at five-eighth) and toured with the Kangaroos in a year in which St George won the premiership undefeated (Raper played in the grand final against Manly as a centre). From 1959 to 1967 he made 33 Test appearances, toured with the Kangaroos three times (1959-60, 1963-64 & 1967-68) and appeared in two World Cup campaigns (1960 and 1968) - the latter as captain. (He still holds the record for Tests against France with 12 appearances). While Raper established a reputation as the game's finest cover-defender his attacking prowess was also sharp and intelligent. Frank Hyde rated his performance in the Second Test against Great Britain on the 1963-64 Kangaroo Tour – the 50-12 ‘Swinton Massacre’ that secured Australia the Ashes for the first time in England for over 50 years - as the greatest 80 minutes of football by any one player. But 'Chook' Raper did not just reserve his best for the Test arena; his efforts for St George during the 1960s were simply inspirational and marked him as the consummate team player. Raper played in eight grand final wins from 1959-66 and was also stand-in five-eighth for 'Poppa' Clay in 1962. Raper was one of the game's great characters and stories of his off-field antics have become legendary. Reports of misbehaviour on the 1967-68 Kangaroo Tour may have damaged a lesser player but Raper was able to turn the infamous 'Bowler Hat' incident (of which he was accused but not actually involved) to his own advantage - the bowler hat has become his signature. On his third Kangaroo tour he captained Australia to an 11-3 win in the Ashes-deciding Third Test at Swinton. In the absence of the injured Reg Gasnier, Raper also led Australia in the three-Test series loss against France - proving that Raper's brilliance alone could not carry an injury-riddled team. When a host of St George champions retired at the end of 1967, Raper took over as captain (and captain-coach in 1969) but the club was beaten in the finals in consecutive years. At age 30, Raper quit Sydney to take on a five-year contract as captain-coach of Newcastle Wests. While he captained both Country and NSW in 1970 he was not called into the Test series against Great Britain. Raper continued playing until 1972 (by which time he was playing for Kurri Kurri) but his time as coach of Cronulla (1975-76) ended disappointingly with his resignation midway through his second season. In 1978 he took over as caretaker coach of Newtown following the resignation of Paul Broughton (although he resisted the temptation to a make a comeback as a player at age 39!). Raper retained close ties with the code as an Australian selector and was impassioned in his support of the ARL during the turmoil of the Super League war. Other great locks have come and gone but quite simply, there has only been one Johnny Raper. He was, and is, in a class of his own. Autobiography: The Man in the Bowler Hat (1997).

- ALAN WHITICKER

Career Statistics

All statistics shown in this section are based only on data available in the RLP database, and are not necessarily a complete and/or 100% accurate representation of a player's career. This information should be used as a guide only. If you see a question mark (?), it denotes that the figure is not available.

To view a list of corresponding matches, click on the Match list icon.

International

Test Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1959-60, 1962-64, 1966-68 39 11 -   - 33 26 11 2 66.67% Match list
Overall 1959-1968 39 11 0   0 33 26 11 2 66.67% Match list

International Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1959-1960 1 - -   - - 1 0 0 100.00% Match list
Overall 1960 1 0 0   0 1 0 0 100.00% Match list

World Cup Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1959-1968 6 2 -   - 6 6 0 0 100.00% Match list
Overall 1960-1968 6 2 0   0 6 6 0 0 100.00% Match list


Representative

Australia - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
NSW Firsts 1959-68, 1970 26 7 -   - 21 20 6 0 76.92% Match list
NSW City Firsts 1959-60, 1963-68 8 - -   - - 8 0 0 100.00% Match list
NSW Country Firsts 1970 1 - -   1 2 0 1 0 0.00% Match list
Overall 1959-1970 35 7 0   1 23 28 7 0 80.00% Match list


Club Career

Australian League Matches - By Year

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Newtown NSWRFL 1957 ? 4 -   - 12  
Newtown NSWRFL 1958 ? 6 -   - 18  
St George NSWRFL 1959 ? 6 -   - 18  
St George NSWRFL 1960 ? 9 -   - 27  
St George NSWRFL 1961 ? 2 -   - 6  
St George NSWRFL 1962 ? 1 -   - 3  
St George NSWRFL 1963 ? 4 -   - 12  
St George NSWRFL 1964 ? 6 -   - 18  
St George NSWRFL 1965 ? 4 -   - 12  
St George NSWRFL 1966 ? 7 -   - 21  
St George NSWRFL 1967 ? 3 -   3 15  
St George NSWRFL 1968 ? 2 -   - 6  
St George NSWRFL 1969 ? 3 -   1 11  
Overall 1957-1969 ? 57 0   4 179 ? ? ? ?  

Australian League Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Newtown 1957-58 ? 10 -   - 30 ? ? ? ?  
St George 1959-69 ? 47 -   4 149 ? ? ? ?  
Overall 1957-1969 ? 57 0   4 179 ? ? ? ?  

All Australian Club Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Newtown 1957-58 ? 10 -   - 30 ? ? ? ?  
St George 1959, 1961-63, 1965-66, 1968 9 47 -   4 149 8 1 0 88.89% Match list
Overall 1957-1969 ? 57 0   4 179 ? ? ? ?  

Your Say

Polyanna says: In the slower pace of the unlimited tackle era (pre-1967), in one game Raper made eight tackles in a row. He personified perpetual motion.
Early in his career, he made sure that selectors were aware that he was a tacking machine by donning the distinctive headgear which made him easy to notice amongst a preponderance of bare-headed players on the field. (08/05/2012)

Anonymous says: Played his best footy at Newtown... (24/07/2012)

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Last modified: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 18:29:42 +1000 (Sydney time)