Thursday, 3 August 2017

Rugby League World Cup : 1985-88

The ninth World Cup went back to the five team format of one before last but with a twist. Instead of Wales, a new emerging nation was added. Papua New Guinea has RL as its national sport and they were rewarded with a place in the tournament.

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.


NZL 18 GBR 6 NZL 22 FRA 10 AUS 32 PNG 24

AUS 12 +161
AUS 0 NZL 6 FRA 0 GBR 10 NZL 12 NZL 22

NZL 11 +72

GBR 10 +113
AUS 62 AUS 24 AUS 52 GBR 52 GBR 42 FRA 21

PNG 4 -241
PNG 12 GBR 15 FRA 0 FRA 4 PNG 0 PNG 4

FRA 3 -105


GBR 42 GBR 26 NZL 66 NZL 12 AUS 70

AUS 25

PNG 22 AUS 12 PNG 14 GBR 10 PNG 8

NZL 12

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