Top International RL Matches

In chronological order with no consideration of merit

The First International RL match
1st January 1908             Wales 9  New Zealand All Golds 8              Aberdare
In 1907-08, Albert Henry Baskerville organized a group of New Zealand players for a professional tour to the UK against Northern Union opposition. Dubbed the All Golds they included Australian susperstar Dally Messenger as a guest and played a total of 46 matches including the first RL international against Wales. Although the All Golds led 8 -3 at half time the Welsh came back strongly and Dai Jones scored a try with only minutes to go. They held on for a famous victory although Dick Wynard of the All Golds missed a great opportunity

Dally Messenger                      Albert Baskerville      

Rorke’s Drift Test
14th July 1914                 Australia 6 Northern Union 14         Sydney

The 1914 GB Lions tour to Australia became controversial when the third and deciding test was brought forward against the wishes of the GB team who were struggling with injuries. They were ahead 9-3 at half time but were reduced to ten players with 30 minutes to go (in the days before substitutions) during the second half when Frank Williams, Douglas Clark and Billy Hall were injured. The team defended heroically and even managed to increase their lead to 14-3 with a try from John Johnson (a forward playing on the wing in place of Williams) after a great break by captain and Price of Centres, Harold Wagstaffe. Sid Deane scored for Australia in the last few minutes but the Lions hung on for a magnificent win

Australia Win the Ashes for the first time
3rd July 1920                  Australia 21  Northern Union 8        Sydney

Australia won the first test 8-4 in Brisbane then secured the Ashes in the second test 21-8 in Sydney with tries from Farnsworth, Gilbert, Horder, Potter and Vest with goals from Burge and Horder and a drop goal from Fraser. The Lions replied with tries from Gallagher and Johnson and a goal from Gronow.
The Northern Union received some consolation by winning the third test 23-13 in Sydney. In 1922, the Northern Union team representing Great Britain adopted the nickname The Lions and regained the Ashes which would not be lost again until 1950.

     Australia v England 1933                                  Jean Galia

First International Match for France
15 April 1934                  France 21 England 32                      Paris

After an exhibition match between Australia and England in 1933, ex-RU International and Championship Boxer, Jean Galia led France on a six match tour to England which included a win in Hull. Their first international match followed soon after and 20 000 excited Parisians watched them lose narrowly to England at the Buffalo Velodrome. Enough enthusiasm was developed to form the French Championship and soon after the national team secured a 15-15 draw in a return match against England

The Indomitables
20th July 1946                  Australia  7 v The Lions  20             Sydney

After the devestation casued by World War II, Great Britain relaunched International Rugby League with a tour down under which was the first major event in any sport after the war. Captained by Gus Risman, they are regarded as the greatest touring team of all time and they still remain the only Great Britain team to remain unbeaten in a test series in Australia. At the time, the only way to travel was onboard Royal Navy vessels and the team made the trip onboard HMS Indomitable from which their nickname came. The first test was drawn 8-8 in Sydney while Great Britain won the second test 14-5 in Brisbane. The Ashes were retained with a 20-7 win at the Sydney Cricket Ground with tries from Bassett, Curren and Owens with goals from Risman(3) and Ward

France Tour Australasia 1951
11th June 1951             Australia 15 v France  26                 Sydney
In 1951, France toured of Australasia for the first time led by their legendary fullback Puig Aubert. Their flamboyant style of rugby attracted large crowds and the first Test match was the first "all ticket" international to be staged at the Sydney Cricket Ground with a crowd of over 60,000. They lost just five times on the twenty eight game tour,  including a 2-1 victory in the test series, and were greeted by large crowds on their return to France

CLICK HERE to view some excellent footage of the 1951 French Tourists in action

The First World Cup Final
13 November 1954            France 12  Great Britain 16     Parc de Princes, Paris

The First Rugby League World Cup was organized by the French RL under Paul Barriere and took place in France in 1954. This was 33 years before the first RU equivalent. Australia, France, GB and NZ took part and the teams were evenly matched although GB were forced, through injuries/withdrawals, to select an inexperienced squad led by Scotsman Dave Valentine. It was a pleasant surprise when they made the final against the home team. France led early in the second half due to a try from Cantoni but Great Britain fought back with their their dominance in the forwards and centre Phil Jackson playing a starring role. France had played a tough match against Australia in Nantes two days earlier. The BBC broadcast the match live in the UK which was a novelty for the time

French Team return home in 1951        Dave Valentine

Everybody's saying go go go and he goes 
2nd November 1972          Great Britain 10  v  Australia 10     Lyon
The 1972 World Cup was played in France and Great Britain and Australia fought their way through to the Final. Clive Sullivan and Mick (Stevo) Stephenson scored tries for Great Britain and Terry Clawson kicked a goal. Artie Beetson and John O’Neill replied for Australia which took the game into extra time although no further points were scored and Great Britain were declared the winners courtesy of their superior record in the group stages of the competition. The game is best remembered for the brilliant try by Clive Sullivan and the accompanying commentary by Eddie Waring. The Australians felt hard done by due to a Graeme Langlands try disallowed for offside. This was the last time to date that a UK side has won a major International Rugby League trophy

The Kumuls from Papua New Guinea
6th July 1975                   Papua New Guinea  12   v   England  40      Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea is the only country in the world where Rugby League is regarded as the national sport. The national team nicknamed The Kumuls played their first international match in 1975 against the returning England World Cup squad although they lost 40 -12. Two years later they thrashed France 37 -6 and made their first overseas tour to Europe in 1979

The Invincibles
30th October 1982         Great Britain 4  Australia 40     Hull

Australia's side for the first Test was built around the new breed of young players  Grothe, Pearce, Meninga, Kenny and Sterling. Great Britain included five players aged over the age of thirty and they were competitive in the first half although Australia led 10-4 at half time. In the second half, the Kangaroos demonstrated their superlative skills including pace, guile, teamwork and fitness and scored six stunning tries in the process. The Great Britain team, the crowd and the game in  the UK were stunned and have not really recovered to this day.


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