Super Rugby


Vale Charles 'Chilla' Wilson

The Queensland Rugby community is in mourning following the death of former Queensland and Wallabies representative Charles Roy ‘Chilla’ Wilson early this morning aged 85.

Born in Ashgrove in Brisbane’s North on the 4th May 1931, Charles’ rugby career began at nearby Marist College Ashgrove and later flourished at Brisbane Grammar. Upon graduation Wilson enrolled in Medicine at the University of Queensland and followed his elder brother Fergus to connect with the U.Q.R.F.C, with whom he would win 5 Premierships.

Between his first representative experience against the dominant 1952 New South Wales side, and his final call-up against the fearsome 1959 British Lions, Wilson’s staunch defence and sharp Rugby mind was tested alongside Queensland and Australian stalwarts Neil Betts, Nev Cottrell, Colin Forbes and ‘Buster’ McLean. 

After completing his medical training at Mater Hospital, Wilson served two years as an Army Medical Officer. ‘Chilla’s’ talent was such that while playing rugby for Army, he was selected to represent Australia. 

Wilson’s first Test cap was won at flanker in the Wallabies’ 1957 match against the touring All Blacks, making him the 424th Wallaby. ‘Chilla’ returned to international rugby the next year as captain, leading the youngest Australian side to visit New Zealand. The inexperienced squad exceeded expectation under Wilson, winning six of the matches on tour including a gritty 6-3 win over the All Blacks in the second Test. 

The early 1960’s saw Wilson relocate to the United Kingdom to undertake a postgraduate degree. Scottish side Edinburgh Wanderers and London Counties benefitted from the move, attracting Wilson’s services during his stay. He represented the two sides against numerous domestic European sides, and, in 1963 he was given two more shots at the touring All Blacks. 

Once repatriated, Wilson became the captain-coach of Wests Rugby Club before becoming Queensland Manager and selector in 1968. He proved ideally suited to team and player administration and managed many of the Wallabies’ fruitful 1980’s campaigns, including the 1982 tour to New Zealand, Italy and France in 1983 and the Grand Slam tour of 1984.

‘Chilla’s’ contribution to Rugby has been truly immense. From Ashgrove to Edinburgh, Charles Roy Wilson lived and loved rugby, as Rugby loved him. He will be sorely missed. The details of his funeral will be announced in due course.

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