1982 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France
The 1982 Kangaroo tour was the fifteenth Kangaroo tour where the Australian national rugby league team plays a number of matches against British and French rugby league teams, in additions to the Test matches. The Australia national rugby league team have generally since 1908 barring wartime, toured Great Britain every four years often capping the tour with games and Tests in France. This regular touring side (and in recent years all Australian representative sides) are known as the Kangaroos.
The 1982 Kangaroos, coached by Frank Stanton, dominated, winning both Test series against Great Britain (three Tests) and France (2 Tests), going through the entire tour undefeated and earning the nickname The Invincibles. This was the first ever Kangaroo touring side to win every game of the tour. They won 22 matches of 22 played scoring 1,005 points for 120 against, an average of 45.6 points scored per game while only conceding 5.4 points per game. The twenty-eight player squad was captained by Max Krilich, with Wally Lewis his deputy. The next Kangaroo Tour was staged in 1986.
The team was coached by the tough and single-minded Balmain Tigers coach Frank Stanton who demanded great discipline and focus from his sides and who was making his third tour and his second consecutive as coach after also coaching the successful 1978 Kangaroo tour. Manly-Warringah's Max Krilich was making his second Kangaroo tour and was named captain and carried out his duties coolly and with great application. Queensland captain Wally Lewis was named as tour vice-captain.
Interviewed by Whiticker in 2004 Krilich said about the talented squad; "The players in that squad were yet to reach their full potential. We were criticised as a weak side, but nobody knew how great a player Wayne Pearce was going to be on the tour. Wally Lewis was still in his early 20s and many of the Queenslanders were in the early stages of their careers". He also spoke of Stanton (who was his Manly-Warringah club coach when he had won the 1976 and 1978 NSWRFL premierships, the second of which Krilich was captain of the Sea Eagles): "Frank was a mentally tough coach who totally believed in what he told his players. Great credit must go to Stanton who played down the accomplishment and kept our heads straight." 
While the pair did not enjoy an easy relationship, mostly due to Stanton not being impressed with his attitude to training or habits on tour which actually caused him to put on weight, Wally Lewis also found respect for Stanton he had not previously experienced after making his test debut under him against France in 1981. After missing selection for the first test in Hull in favour of Parramatta's 1982 premiership winning Five-eighth Brett Kenny, Stanton challenged Lewis to get back into shape and win his way back into the test team, something he achieved with selection on the bench for the second test in Wigan and the third test in Leeds.
Six players from the 1982 premiership winning Parramatta Eels were selected in the squad, a new Kangaroo tour record for the club with Steve Ella the only Eels player not to play a test on tour. Manly, the team they defeated in the inaugural Winfield Cup Grand Final, had seven players selected.
Tour managers were the Newtown administrator Frank Farrington and Queenslander, T Drysdale. Open Rugby magazine claimed the Australians had brought "a new dimension of excitement and adventure" to the game and former England great Alex Murphy, who called each test for the BBC alongside Ray French, called then "men from another planet."
This was the first Kangaroo tour since the introduction of State of Origin and it allowed Queensland to reverse New South Wales' dominance in interstate football, with a record-equaling eleven Queenslanders selected for the tour.
Future Kangaroos captain Mal Meninga, making the first of his record four Kangaroo Tours, was the leading point scorer on tour with 166 from 10 tries and 68 goals, including 48 points in the three tests against Great Britain (2 tries, 21 goals), and 17 points in the two tests against France (1 try, 7 goals). John Ribot was the leading try scorer on tour with 25 from just 14 games, including a try in the 3rd test against Great Britain. Ribot added 20 goals to his points tally to join Meninga as the only players on tour to score over 100 points.
- Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (6): Max Krilich (captain) (N), Kerry Boustead (Q), John Ribot (Q), Les Boyd (N), Paul McCabe (Q), Ray Brown (N)
- Parramatta Eels (6): Brett Kenny (N), Peter Sterling (N), Steve Ella (N), Eric Grothe (N), Ray Price (N), John Muggleton (N)
- Wynnum-Manly Seagulls (2): Gene Miles (Q), Rod Morris (Q)
- Canterbury Bulldogs (3): Greg Brentnall (N), Chris Anderson (N), Steve Mortimer (N)
- Norths Devils (2): Greg Conescu (Q), Mark Murray (Q)
- St George Dragons (2): Rod Reddy (Q), Craig Young (N)
- Eastern Suburbs Roosters (1): Ian Schubert (N)
- Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (1): Steve Rogers (N)
- North Sydney Bears (1): Don McKinnon (N)
- Balmain Tigers (1): Wayne Pearce (N)
- Souths Magpies (1): Mal Meninga (Q)
- Warwick (1): Rohan Hancock (Q)
- Valleys Diehards (1): Wally Lewis (vice-captain) (Q),
Before flying to England, half the squad, led by Kangaroos vice-captain Wally Lewis, went to Perth to play Western Australia, while the other half, along with coach Stanton, travelled to Papua New Guinea for Australia's first ever test match against the Kumuls, won 38-2 by the Kangaroos. Nine of the players who travelled to PNG with Stanton would go on to play in the first test against Great Britain. Winger John Ribot crossed for four tries (though he would be overlooked for the first two Ashes tests in favour of Eric Grothe), while fullback Greg Brentnall scored twice. Other try scorers for the Kangaroos were Kerry Boustead, Brett Kenny, Mal Meninga and Steve Rogers, while Meninga kicked 4 goals. Brett Kenny, Mark Murray and Ray Brown made their test debuts in the match.
The Australian team for the test against Papua New Guinea was:
Greg Brentnall, John Ribot, Mal Meninga, Steve Rogers, Kerry Boustead, Brett Kenny, Steve Mortimer, Rohan Hancock, Max Krilich (c), Craig Young, Rod Reddy, John Muggleton, Ray Price. Res: Mark Murray, Ray Brown
Once on English soil controversy surfaced when the incumbent Australian Test halves Steve Mortimer and Wally Lewis were not chosen for the opening match. Instead, Parramatta's Grand Final winning halves Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny took the field against Hull Kingston Rovers and, playing alongside nine of the eventual first test team, set about locking up their positions for the first Test on 30 October.
Leading up to the first test at the Boothferry Park ground in Hull, The Kangaroos also played a non-test 'international' against Wales at Ninian Park in Cardiff on 24 October. In a match played in heavy rain in front of 5,617 fans, Australia, captained by Wally Lewis, ran in nine tries to one in a 37-7 rout. The game marked the first time Lewis, who would take over the test captaincy in 1984, captained Australia in a game against another country.
Fiery forward Les Boyd enhanced his reputation for the rough stuff and sometimes over stepping the line when he was sent off twice on tour. He was sent off in the first game of the tour against Hull Kingston Rovers at Craven Park, and in the second test against the Lions at Central Park in Wigan. He was also sin-binned in the third Ashes test at Headingley in Leeds.
|10 October||Hull KR||10-30||Craven Park, Hull||F. Lindop||10,742|
|13 October||Wigan||9-13||Central Park, Wigan||G. Kershaw||12,158|
|15 October||Barrow||0-40||Craven Park, Barrow-in-Furness||D. Fox||6,282|
|17 October||St Helens||0-32||Knowsley Road, St Helens||R. Whitfield||8,190|
|20 October||Leeds||4-31||Headingley, Leeds||B. Thompson||11,570|
|24 October||Wales||7-37||Ninian Park, Cardiff||G. Kershaw||5,617|
|30 October||Great Britain||4-40||Boothferry Park, Hull||J. Rascagneres||26,771|
|3 November||Leigh||4-44||Hilton Park, Leigh||T. Court||7,680|
|7 November||Bradford Northern||6-13||Odsal Stadium, Bradford||M. Beaumont||10,506|
|9 November||Cumbria||2-41||Brunton Park, Carlisle||S. Wall||5,748|
|14 November||Fulham||5-22||Craven Cottage, Fulham||B. Thompson||10,432|
|16 November||Hull||7-13||The Boulevard, Hull||J. Holdsworth||16,049|
|20 November||Great Britain||6-27||Central Park, Wigan||J. Rascagneres||23,216|
|23 November||Widnes||6-19||Naughton Park, Widnes||J. McDonald||9,790|
|28 November||Great Britain||8-32||Headingley, Leeds||J. Rascagneres||17,318|
The Ashes series
30 Oct 1982
|Australia||40 - 4||Great Britain|
Mal Meninga, Les Boyd, Eric Grothe
Wayne Pearce, Brett Kenny, Kerry Boustead
Rod Reddy, Ray Price
Mal Meninga (8)
Lee Crooks (2)
While Australia's side for the opening Test was built around the new breed of young players such as Eric Grothe, Wayne Pearce, Mal Meninga, Brett Kenny and Peter Sterling mixing with veterans Ray Price, Rod Reddy and Steve Rogers and captain Max Krilich, Great Britain chose five players aged over 30. The only player over the age of 30 for the Kangaroos first test team was Krilich who had turned 33 only five days prior to the test.
Great Britain did well in the first half to trail by only 4-10 at half time, but the two penalty goals by Hull second rower Lee Crooks in his test debut was as good as it got for the home side. In the second half the Kangaroos unleashed their skills and fitness, and blazed six stunning tries to leave the British game, and most of the 26,771 strong crowd at Hull's Boothferry Park stunned. The game was Australia's 4th straight win over Great Britain, dating back to the final test of the 1978 Kangaroo Tour and the 3-0 whitewash of the Lions on their lackluster 1979 Australasian tour. In commentary for the BBC, former England international Ray French stated after the final siren that "Well, I've got to eat a little humble pie. I thought Great Britain could do something but with only those two penalty goals from Lee Crooks its back to the drawing board for the Great Britain selectors I'm afraid", while his commentary partner Alex Murphy said during the Kangaroos second half onslaught "We need something to combat this lot."
GREAT BRITAIN: George Fairbairn, Des Drummond, Eric Hughes, Les Dyl, Steve Evans, John Woods, Steve Nash (c), Jeff Grayshon, David Ward, Trevor Skerrett, Les Gorley, Lee Crooks, Steve Norton. Rep: David Heron
20 November 1982
|Australia||27 - 6||Great Britain|
Ray Price, Peter Sterling, Eric Grothe
Mal Meninga, Steve Rogers
Mal Meninga (6)
Keith Mumby (3)
Despite ten changes to the Lions' side, with only winger Des Drummond and props Trevor Skerrett and Jeff Grayshon, who also took over the captaincy, retained from the first test thrashing, the second Test was scarcely a contest and the Kangaroos won by 27-6. Australia's fiery forward Les Boyd was sent off late in the first half for kicking a tackled player on the ground. The touch judge, only seeing Boyd's kick and not that it was in reaction to tackled Lions hooker John Dalgreen lashing out with a boot at Boyd while he was on the ground, came on with his flag up and French Referee Julien Rascagneres, who did not actually see the incident, had no hesitation in sending Boyd off), leaving the Kangaroos played out the remaining 46 minutes with only twelve men. Eric Grothe suffered a knee injury while scoring a try late in the first half and was replaced at half time by Wally Lewis. The injury would see Grothe miss the third test, played only a week later in Leeds. Lewis came straight in to the five-eight position while Brett Kenny moved to the centres and Mal Meninga out to the wing. Half way through the second half Wally showed the Lions what the British game was missing when he sent a bullet like 20 metre pass to Meninga to score in the corner. The pass was more psychological damage to the Lions, who wondered how good the Kangaroos were if they had reserves could pass like Lewis did.
AUSTRALIA: Greg Brentnall, Kerry Boustead, Mal Meninga, Steve Rogers, Eric Grothe, Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling, Craig Young, Max Krilich (c), Les Boyd, Rod Reddy, Wayne Pearce, Ray Price. Rep: Wally Lewis, Ray Brown
GREAT BRITAIN: Keith Mumby, Des Drummond, Mike Smith, David Stephenson, Henderson Gill, John Holmes, Ken Kelly, Jeff Grayshon (c), John Dalgreen, Trevor Skerrett, Bob Eccles, Chris Burton, David Heron. Rep: John Woods, Alan Rathbone
28 November 1982
|Australia||32 - 8||Great Britain|
Kerry Boustead, John Ribot, Steve Rogers
Brett Kenny, Max Krilich, Wayne Pearce
Mal Meninga (7)
Lee Crooks (2)
Injuries forces Frank Stanton to make three changes to the Kangaroos for the final test. Eric Grothe's knee injury in the second test kept him out with John Ribot coming onto the wing, Rod Morris replaced Craig Young in the front row, while Ray Price was also ruled out with a knee injury and was replaced by Paul McCabe who came into the second row which allowed Wayne Pearce to move to his favoured position at lock forward.
The third Test was the most genuine of the three and was well contested until the final ten minutes with Widnes halfback Andy Gregory and Bradford Northern hooker Brian Noble, playing his first test, leading the way for the Lions and providing the service to their speedy outside backs that Britain had lacked in the first two tests. Indeed, the Lions made more line breaks in the third test at Headingley than they had in the previous two tests. With just over 10 minutes left to play the Aussies were holding-off Britain by 14-8 and an intense finish loomed after Hull winger Steve Evans scored the Lions only try of the series (it was also the first try the Australians had conceded in the 11 tests they had played since the second Ashes series test against the Lions in 1979 in Brisbane). It seemed Britain had not been so far behind Australia's standard after all, but in the final 10 minutes the Kangaroos superior fitness told and they ripped the home side apart with 4 tries to run out win 32-8 winners and become the first touring side to go through Britain undefeated.
Right on half time there was a set-to between forwards Les Boyd and Mick Crane which resulted in an all-in brawl. As the teams lined up for the second half, referee Rascagneres called out both Boyd and Crane and sent both to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.
The Ashes series win was Australia's 4th straight over the Lions dating back to 1974, and their second straight 3-0 series win. It also continued the streak started by the 1963-64 Kangaroos of successfully defending The Ashes in England. As of 2014, this was also the last test Australia played at Headingley. Starting with the 1986 Kangaroo tour, all internationals Australia has played in Leeds have been played at the Elland Road stadium, home of the Leeds United soccer club, due to its greater spectator capacity (Elland Road currently holds 37,914 while Headingley has a capacity of 21,062).
AUSTRALIA: Greg Brentnall, Kerry Boustead, Mal Meninga, Steve Rogers, John Ribot, Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling, Les Boyd, Max Krilich (c), Rod Morris, Paul McCabe, Rod Reddy, Wayne Pearce. Rep: Wally Lewis, Ray Brown
GREAT BRITAIN: George Fairbairn, Des Drummond, David Stephenson, Mike Smith, Steve Evans, David Topliss (c), Andy Gregory, Mike O'Neill, Brian Noble, Paul Rose, Peter Smith, Lee Crooks, Mick Crane. Rep: Neil Courtney
|1 December||Racing Club Roanne XIII||0-65||stade Malleval, Roanne||N/A||2,000|
|5 December||France||4-15||Parc de Sports, Avignon||R. Whitfield||8,000|
|9 December||Les Espoirs (Colts)||3-42||N/A||N/A||2,000|
|12 December||XIII Catalan||2-53||Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan||N/A||4,000|
|14 December||Midi-Pyrenees XIII||0-26||N/A||N/A||1,000|
|18 December||France||9-23||Stade L'Egassiarial, Narbonne||R. Whitfield||7,000|
The tourists found the French Tests more of a challenge than the British, but in the end the Kangaroos prevailed and finished their tour unbeaten.
5 Dec 1982
|Australia||15 - 4||France|
Eric Grothe (2)
Mal Meninga (3)
Andre Perez (2)
Parc de Sports, Avignon
Referee/s: R Whitfield (England)
AUSTRALIA: Greg Brentnall, Kerry Boustead, Steve Rogers, Brett Kenny, Mal Meninga, Wally Lewis, Peter Sterling, Craig Young, Max Krilich (c), Rod Morris, Paul McCabe, Les Boyd, Wayne Pearce. Rep: Eric Grothe, Ray Brown
FRANCE: Andre Perez, Patrick Solal, Guy Delaunay, Jacques Guigue, Philippe Fourcade, Herve Guiraud, Ivan Grésèque, Henri Daniel, Christian Macalli, Max Chantal, Guy Laforgue, Marc Ambert, Joel Roosebrouck (c). Rep: Christian Laumond, Manuel Caravaca
18 Dec 1982
|Australia||23 - 9||France|
Eric Grothe (2), Brett Kenny
Rod Reddy, Mal Meninga
Mal Meninga (4)
Fernand Kaminski (3)
Stade L'Egassiarial, Narbonne
Referee/s: R Whitfield (England)
AUSTRALIA: Greg Brentnall, Kerry Boustead, Steve Rogers, Mal Meninga, Eric Grothe, Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling, Craig Young, Max Krilich (c), Les Boyd, Rod Reddy, Paul McCabe, Wayne Pearce. Rep: Steve Ella, Ray Brown
FRANCE: Jacques Guigue, Patrick Solal, Guy Delaunay, Christian Laumond, Fernand Kaminski, Herve Guiraud, Ivan Grésèque, Charles Zalduendo, Christian Macalli, Max Chantal, Jean-Jacques Cologni, Guy Laforgue, Joel Roosebrouck (c). Rep: Michel Laville, Manuel Caravaca
Leading Try Scorer
- 25 by John Ribot
Leading Point Scorer
- 166 by Mal Meninga (10 tries, 68 goals)
Largest Club Game Attendance
- Heads, Ian and Lester, Gary (1988) 200 Years of Australian Sport, Lester Townsend, Sydney
- Whiticker, Alan(2004) Captaining the Kangaroos, New Holland, Sydney
- Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
- 1982 Kangaroo Tour of Great Britain and France at rl1908.com
- 1982 Kangaroo Tour of Great Britain and France at rlhalloffame.org.uk
- Ashes Series 1982 at rugbyleagueproject.com
- "1982 Kangaroos Tour of England and France" by Jason Cave (theroar.com.au)