Skelton to skipper the Wallabies

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Sydney University Football Club has produced yet another Wallaby skipper – the 14th overall – with the announcement that Will Skelton will captain the Australian side to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

A giant lock, Skelton joined SUFC Colts in 2010 after graduating from The Hills Sports High School in Seven Hills, where he first played rugby as a 15-year-old. He won a grand final with the Colts 2nd XV in his first year with the University before moving into the grades.

Skelton joined the Waratahs Academy and the ARU’s National Academy in Sydney in 2011 and was signed to the Waratahs Extended Player Squad in 2013, the same year he helped Sydney University First XV to the Shute Shield title. He also made his Super Rugby debut against the Stormers and his international debut against the touring British and Irish Lions that year.

Standing 2.03m and weighing in at 145kg, Skelton is the 87th Wallaby captain – and the biggest. He has played 28 Tests for Australia since making his debut against France in 2014. The following year he played in the World Cup in England. He will be accompanied to this year’s World Cup by three SUFC players in prop Angus Bell, lock Matt Philip and flanker Josh Kemeny, the club’s 110th capped Wallaby.

The list of Wallaby captains who played for Sydney University includes Herbert ‘Paddy’ Moran (1908), Billy Sheehan (1923), Tom Lawton Snr (1925), Arthur “Johnnie’ Wallace (1926),  Bob Loudon (1928), Alex Ross (1933), Phil Hardcastle (1947), John Solomon (1952), Dick Tooth (1957), John Thornett (1962), Peter Johnson (1962), Nick Farr-Jones (1988), Phil Waugh (2006) and Will Skelton (2023). All captained the Wallabies while studying at the University, except for Thornett, who moved to Norths after graduating, Johnson, who moved to Randwick, and Skelton. Until the late 1990s only enrolled students could play for the club and had to move on when they graduated.

Skelton played for the Sydney Stars in the National Rugby Championship in 2013 and for the Waratahs when they made the Super Rugby semi-finals in 2015. He moved the France to play with Saracens in 2017 and won premierships with them in 2018 and 2019 and the European Champions Cup in 2019 before moving to La Rochelle in 2020. He led them to victory in the 2022 European Champions Cup.

SUFC also has seven players in the Australia ‘A’ side to play Portugal next week. They are Harry Johnson-Holmes, Sam Talakai, Lachlan Swinton, Brad Wilkin, Tom Lambert, Folau Fainga’a and Bernie Foley.