It was unique in that it was played over three years. As each nation played a series between each other, one of the games was also a WC game. It encouraged tours but lacked impact for the time covered. A sad part of the situation was France were unable to afford to tour down under, forfeiting matches against Australia, New Zealand and PNG. Surely had they been helped out, the tour would have made some money that could have reimbursed the lenders.
There are too many round robin matches to comment on (seventeen) even with three not played. A few I'll mention. I remember watching NZ beat Australia first up in Auckland 18-0 before 15,000 ecstatic fans. Later, France held GB to a 10-10 score, the result ultimately cost GB a final spot and gave NZ their first.
PNG overcoming NZ at Port Moresby 24-22 was a shock. 15,000 delirious attendees would have been amazed their new nation had achieved such a feat. GB beating Australia 26-12 at Sydney gave them hope of making the final but then losing to NZ 12-10 in Christchurch scuppered that ambition.
NZ hosted its first final in Auckland, held at Eden Park to take advantage of a larger stadium than Carlaw Park. The 47,000 that came along witnessed quite a match and in the end Australia prevailed 25-12. I remember watching on TV and really enjoying the game but was disappointed that Australia won yet again.
For the next in the series (1989-92), please click here.
The first in the series (1954) can be seen by clicking here.
|1985-88 FINAL : NEW ZEALAND / WINNER : AUSTRALIA|