Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Rugby League World Cup : 1954

GB vs Australia

The sport having a World Cup was an initiative that came from France and the first series was played in that country. The code in that nation was still disadvantaged by the loss of its assets during WWII, so it would help the sport recover financially. It was also the 20th anniversary of the code being played there too.

The one behind it was Paul Barrière, a rugby union man who came to know of how rugby league had been treated. He got involved with the game and that included creating a World Cup. He declined the trophy being named after him but apparently from the 2017 World Cup, it will be. Apparently the possibility to include Canada and the US was spurned. An opportunity lost.

For the first tournament, it was hard to pick a winner as any side could beat another on the day. The British team was an untried, relatively inexperienced combination so some felt they were unlikely winners. Anyway it started out with the French side defeating New Zealand 22-13 at Paris. Great Britain overcame Australia 28-13 in Lyon and the first round went to the Northern Hemisphere.

The next phase of the competition had the hosts up against GB in Toulouse, with a 13-13 score the result. A record crowd for a rugby league test in France witnessed the game. In the other match, Australia easily saw off NZ 34-15 in Marseille.

The final round had GB defeating NZ by 26-6 in Bordeaux while France prevailed over Australia 15-5 in Nantes. All matches had attendances in excess of 10,000.

The final was between the two unbeaten sides, France and GB. 30,000 people came along to the stadium in Paris but hopefully weren't too disappointed to see their side go down 12-16. GB became the first side to win the RL World Cup. The picture shows the GB captain Dave Valentine lifting the trophy.

The next in the series (1957) can be accessed by clicking here.

1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round GBR 5 +35 FINAL
FRA 22 GBR 28 GBR 13 AUS 34 GBR 26 FRA 15 FRA 5 +19 GBR 16
NZL 13 AUS 13 FRA 13 NZL 15 NZL 6 AUS 5 AUS 2 -6 FRA 12

NZL 0 -48

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