Friday, 28 July 2017

Rugby League World Cup : 1975

Australia and Wales square off

There were some notable changes for the seventh World Cup. It was the first to operate under the six tackle rule and all games featured neutral referees. It was not played at a tournament location but played home and away over eight months. How radical is that?  It was also the first World Cup with more than four teams as England (not Great Britain) played for the first time, with Wales now included as a separate nation.

For all of that, it really was an interesting series of matches. None of the competitors were totally outgunned and the new side Wales surprised with its performances. The Welsh were also notable for its involvement in some of the more violent incidents during the WC. All the nations involved hosted games.

March 1975: France kicked it off with a win over Wales in Toulouse (7,600 in attendance) 14-7. France then went to Leeds in the UK to face England. The hosts prevailed 20-2 (before 10,800).

June 1975: Australia welcomes New Zealand to Brisbane (12,000) for their first game which I remember watching on television. Australia easily won 36-8. England and Wales then played a game in Brisbane (only 6,000 attended) and Wales surprisingly won 12-7. Australia then defeated Wales In Sydney (25,000) 30-13, then England shared the spoils with NZ 17-17 in Auckland (12,000). Australia overcame France 28-6 in Brisbane (9,000) and six days later took on England in Sydney (34,000) for a 10-10 draw. The last game of the month was held in Auckland (9,000) where NZ just defeated Wales 13-8.

At this point all had played four times. Australia led with 7 points, from NZ 5, England 4, Wales and France 2 each. One more game down under and then it was on to the Northern Hemisphere for the second round of matches.

September 1975: In Warrington, UK, England narrowly beat Wales 22-16 (just 5,000) and 18,000 came to the match in Auckland to see Australia win 24-8 over NZ.

October 1975: France hosted England and were overwhelmed 2-48 in Bordeaux (1,600!). They then had NZ visit them in Marseille (10,000) with a 12-12 result. Across the channel, Wales took on Australia in Swansea (11,000) but lost 6-18. England defeated NZ 27-12 in Bradford (5,500) and Australia were victors in Perpignan (10,500) over France 2-41.

November 1975: England prevailed over Australia 16-13 at Wigan (9,400) and Wales pipped NZ at Swansea (2,650) 25-24 and four days later accounted for France in Salford (2,250) 23-2.

Critical points were England losing to Wales in June. England didn't lose to Australia but ended up second. NZ losing its last game to Wales cost them third while the Welsh finishing on two wins moved from 5th to 3rd. France won its first game but fell away after that. In the end Australia took the crown - with no final held - by a single point. An unusual tournament indeed.

The next in the series (1977) is found by clicking here.
The first in the series (1954) can be seen by clicking here.


FRA 14 ENG 20 AUS 36 WAL 12 AUS 30 NZL 27 NZL 17 Summary
WAL 7 FRA 2 NZL 8 ENG 7 WAL 13 FRA 0 ENG 17 AUS 13 +129

ENG 12 +83
AUS 26 NZL 13 AUS 10 ENG 22 AUS 24 ENG 48 FRA 12 WAL 6 -20
FRA 6 WAL 8 ENG 10 WAL 16 NZL 8 FRA 2 NZL 12 NZL 6 -28

FRA 3 -164
AUS 18 ENG 27 AUS 41 ENG 16 WAL 25 WAL 23

WAL 6 NZL 12 FRA 2 AUS 13 NZL 24 FRA 2

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