In 1951, France toured 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. It took place on 11th June 1951 and the score was Australia 15 v France 26.
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. It took place on 13th November 1954 and the result was France 12 Great Britain 16 at Parc de Princes, Paris
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 that a Great Britain side won a major International Rugby League trophy on 2nd November 1972 in Lyon. The match took place on 2nd November 1972 and the result was Great Britain 10 v Australia 10.
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 on 6th July 1975 in Port Moresby 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.
In 1982, the Australian side for the opening Test was built around a new breed of young players such as Eric Grothe, Wayne Pearce, Mal Meninga, Brett Kenny and Peter Sterling. Great Britain chose five players aged over 30 and did well in the first half to be trailing 10-4 at the break. In the second half the Kangaroos unleashed their pace, guile, excellent teamwork and superior fitness to score six stunning tries to leave the British crowd and game stunned. The match took place on 30th October 1982 at Bothberry Park in Hull and the result was Great Britain 4 v Australia 40.
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