1990 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France

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The 1990 Kangaroo Tour was the seventeenth Kangaroo Tour, where the Australian national rugby league team travelled to Europe and played eighteen matches against British and French club and representative rugby league teams, in addition to three Test matches against Great Britain and two Tests against the French. It followed the tour of 1986 and the next was staged in 1994.

This series was the closest the British team came to reclaiming The Ashes since last winning in Australia in 1970. Great Britain won the first Test at Wembley Stadium and in the second Test at Old Trafford in Manchester the match was tied at 10-all until the final minutes when Australia scored a late try to win the game. Australia then went on to easily win the third and deciding Test and retain The Ashes. Australia won both Test series against Great Britain and France, suffering one loss (against Great Britain in the first Test), and remaining undefeated in tour matches against British clubs in a streak stretching back to midway through the 1978 tour.

The 17th Kangaroo tour was televised back to Australia on the Ten Network with commentary provided by Graham Hughes and David Morrow. Also joining the commentary team at various stages, including the second Ashes Test at Old Trafford, were Manly-Warringah coach Graham Lowe and the captain of 1986 Kangaroos, Wally Lewis.

The squad's leadership[edit]

The team was coached by Bob Fulton making his third Kangaroo Tour, though his first as coach (Fulton had been captain of the Kangaroos on his previous tour as a player in 1978). Mal Meninga was making a record third consecutive tour and his first as captain. As per custom, the Australian Rugby League appointed two tour managers, one each from the Queensland and New South Wales rugby leagues. Former Kangaroo captain Keith Barnes was team manager from NSW, while Les Stokes was the manager Qld.

Other staff included trainers Shaun McRae, "The Sheriff" Brian Hollis, and the World Champion boxing trainer Johnny Lewis as team conditioner. Manly-Warringah club doctor Nathan Gibbs, a former South Sydney and Parramatta forward who had retired from playing in 1984 to concentrate on his medical studies, was team doctor. Gibbs made the controversial decision during the selection medicals to rule Kangaroo stalwart and likely captain Wally Lewis unfit for the tour and thus unable to make a third consecutive tour alongside Meninga.

Touring squad[edit]

Player Club Position(s) Tests Games Tries Goals F/Goals Points
Greg Alexander Penrith Fullback, Halfback 4 17 14 50 - 156
Gary Belcher Canberra Fullback 5 11 6 1 1 27
Martin Bella Manly-Warringah Prop 1 11 - - - 0
Mark Carroll South Sydney Second-row, Prop 0 6 2 - - 8
John Cartwright Penrith Second-row 1 9 1 - - 4
Laurie Daley Canberra Five-eighth, Centre 6 6 - - - 0
Ben Elias (vc) Balmain Hooker 4 10 2 - - 8
Andrew Ettingshausen Cronulla-Sutherland Wing, Centre, Fullback 5 12 15 - - 60
Brad Fittler Penrith Centre, Five-eighth, Lock 0 8 8 - - 32
Mark Geyer Penrith Second-row 1 11 4 - - 16
David Gillespie Canterbury-Bankstown Second-row, Prop 3 10 1 - - 4
Michael Hancock Brisbane Wing 1 6 4 - - 16
Des Hasler Manly-Warringah Halfback, Lock 4 13 3 - - 12
Chris Johns Brisbane Centre, Wing 1 11 4 - - 16
Allan Langer Brisbane Halfback 1 11 4 - - 16
Glenn Lazarus Canberra Prop 5 13 2 - - 8
Bob Lindner Western Suburbs Lock, Second-row 4 10 2 - - 8
Cliff Lyons Manly-Warringah Five-eighth 4 8 3 - - 12
Brad Mackay St George Lock 4 12 4 - - 16
Mal Meninga (c) Canberra Centre 5 11 8 16 - 64
Mark McGaw Cronulla-Sutherland Centre 1 6 1 - - 4
Steve Roach Balmain Prop 5 10 2 - - 8
Mark Sargent Newcastle Prop 3 11 6 1 - 25
Dale Shearer Brisbane Wing, Centre, Fullback 5 13 9 1 - 38
Paul Sironen Balmain Second-row 5 10 3 - - 12
Ricky Stuart Canberra Halfback 5 9 1 - - 5
Kerrod Walters Brisbane Hooker 1 8 2 - - 8
Kevin Walters Brisbane Five-eighth, Halfback 0 8 5 - - 20

By Club[edit]

The touring side was represented by 18 New South Welshmen (N) and 10 Queenslanders (Q).

Great Britain[edit]

The Ashes series against Great Britain saw a record aggregate crowd of 133,684 attending the Test series, easily beating the previous record of 101,560 set on the 1986 Kangaroo Tour.

Date Opponent Score Ground Referee Crowd Report
7 October St Helens 4-34 Knowsley Road, St Helens J. Holdsworth 15,219
10 October Wakefield Trinity 18-36 Belle Vue, Wakefield K. Allatt 7,083
14 October Wigan 6-34 Central Park, Wigan C. Morris 25,101
17 October Cumbria 10-42 Derwent Park, Workington J. Smith 6,750
21 October Leeds 10-22 Headingley Stadium, Leeds R. Tennant 16,307
27 October Great Britain 19-12 Wembley Stadium, London A. Sablayrolles (FRA) 54,569
31 October Warrington 6-26 Wilderspool Stadium, Warrington D. Carter 10,200
4 November Castleford 8-28 Wheldon Road, Castleford G. Kershaw 9,033
6 November Halifax 18-36 Thrum Hall, Halifax B. Galtress 8,730
10 November Great Britain 10-14 Old Trafford, Manchester A. Sablayrolles (FRA) 46,615
14 November Hull 4-34 The Boulevard, Hull D. Campbell 13,000
18 November Widnes 8-15 Naughton Park, Widnes J. Kendrew 14,666
24 November Great Britain 0-14 Elland Road, Leeds A. Sablayrolles (FRA) 32,500

The Ashes series[edit]

In the first rugby league international played at Wembley for 17 years Ellery Hanley inspired a stirring first Test win in front of 54,569 fans, the largest ever Test attendance in England and breaking the record of 50,583 set at Old Trafford in the first Ashes Test of the 1986 Kangaroo tour.[1]

27 October 1990
Australia 12 - 19 Great Britain
Mark McGaw, Mal Meninga
Mal Meninga (2/4)
Paul Eastwood (2), Martin Offiah
Paul Eastwood (3/6)
Field Goals:
Garry Schofield
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 54,569
Referee/s: Alain Sablayrolles (France)

Despite a brilliant individual try in the second half to Mark McGaw, and a try to Mal Meninga, the Aussies were in trouble all day. The Lions, led by inspirational captain Ellery Hanley and Five-eighth Garry Schofield were in front from the start following tries to Martin Offiah, and a double to Paul Eastwood, who scored the winning try and also kicked 3 goals. This was Great Britain's second straight win over Australia and ended any hopes that the 1990 Tour would emulate the unbeaten 1982 and 1986 Kangaroo tours.

AUSTRALIA: Gary Belcher, Michael Hancock, Mal Meninga (c), Mark McGaw, Andrew Ettingshausen, Ricky Stuart, Allan Langer, Martin Bella, Kerrod Walters, Steve Roach, John Cartwright, Paul Sironen, Bob Lindner. Rep: Glenn Lazarus, Des Hasler, Greg Alexander, Dale Shearer.

GREAT BRITAIN: Steve Hampson, Paul Eastwood, Daryl Powell, Carl Gibson, Martin Offiah, Garry Schofield, Andy Gregory, Karl Harrison, Lee Jackson, Paul Dixon, Roy Powell, Denis Betts, Ellery Hanley (c). Rep: Kevin Ward, Karl Fairbank.

10 November 1990
Australia 14 - 10 Great Britain
Dale Shearer, Cliff Lyons
Mal Meninga
Mal Meninga (1/4)
Paul Dixon, Paul Loughlin
Paul Eastwood (1/3)
Old Trafford, Manchester
Attendance: 46,615
Referee/s: Alain Sablayrolles (France)

Dale Shearer made a welcome return to test football when he opened the scoring with a try midway through the first half. The Lions hit back early in the second half with a try to Paul Dixon. Australia reclaimed the lead to a brilliant try to Cliff Lyons in his test debut. The ball passed through 121 sets of hands before Andrew Ettingshausen raced down the right wing and centre kicked for Lyons to regather and score beside the posts. With just ten minutes left, Great Britain were poised to reclaim The Ashes after twenty years with an intercept try by replacement centre Paul Loughlin late in the match. Winger Paul Eastwood missed a simple conversion attempt that would have given his team the lead with time running out.[2] However the match remained tied at 10 all until in the final minutes when Ricky Stuart charged through a gap in the Lions defence and ran 70 metres before passing to Mal Meninga in support who completed the length-of-the-field try to seal the match for Australia and force the series into a decider.[3]

AUSTRALIA: Gary Belcher, Dale Shearer, Mal Meninga (c), Laurie Daley, Andrew Ettingshausen, Cliff Lyons, Ricky Stuart, Glenn Lazarus, Ben Elias, Steve Roach, Paul Sironen, Bob Lindner, Brad Mackay.

GREAT BRITAIN: Steve Hampson, Paul Eastwood, Daryl Powell, Carl Gibson, Martin Offiah, Garry Schofield, Andy Gregory, Karl Harrison, Lee Jackson, Andy Platt, Denis Betts, Paul Dixon, Ellery Hanley (c). Rep: Kevin Ward, Paul Loughlin.

24 November 1990
Australia 14 - 0 Great Britain
Andrew Ettingshausen, Mal Meninga
Ben Elias
Mal Meninga (1/3)
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 32,500
Referee/s: Alain Sablayrolles (France)

In the third and final test of The Ashes series, Australia kept alive their series streak (not having lost The Ashes since Great Britain won in 1970 and not having lost them in England since 1959), with a 14-0 win in front of a packed Elland Road in Leeds. Australia ran in three tries to nil with Mal Meninga, Andrew Ettingshausen and Benny Elias all crossing the line while the lions rarely threatened the Kangaroos line in the wet and slippery conditions.

Kangaroos captain Mal Meninga became just the third Australian to score a try in each test of an Ashes series following on from legendary try-scoring winger Ken Irvine (1963), and the most unlikely of the trio, front-row forward Sam Backo (1988).

AUSTRALIA: Gary Belcher, Dale Shearer, Mal Meninga (c), Laurie Daley, Andrew Ettingshausen, Cliff Lyons, Ricky Stuart, Glenn Lazarus, Ben Elias, Steve Roach, Paul Sironen, Bob Lindner, Brad Mackay. Rep: David Gillespie, Des Hasler, Mark Sargent, Greg Alexander

GREAT BRITAIN: Steve Hampson, Paul Eastwood, Daryl Powell, Carl Gibson, Martin Offiah, Garry Schofield, Andy Gregory, Karl Harrison, Lee Jackson, Andy Platt, Denis Betts, Paul Dixon, Ellery Hanley (c). Rep: Mike Gregory, Roy Powell, Jonathan Davies.


Date Opponent Score Ground Referee Crowd Report
27 November President's XIII 18-46 Corbeil-Essonnes Stadium, Paris M. Millett 3,000
2 December France B 6-78 Georges Livet Stadium, Lyon M. Agali 2,000
2 December France 4-60 Parc de Sports, Avignon J Holdsworth (GB) 3,000
5 December Languedoc-Roussillon 9-38 Carcassonne M. Chamfreau 1,000
9 December France 10-34 Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan J Holdsworth (GB) 3,428

French Tests[edit]

2 December 1990
Australia 60 - 4 France
Greg Alexander (3), Gary Belcher (2)
Andrew Ettingshausen (2), Paul Sironen
Dale Shearer, David Gillespie
Glenn Lazarus
Greg Alexander (7)
Mal Meninga
David Fraisse
Parc de Sports, Avignon
Attendance: 3,000
Referee/s: J Holdsworth (England)

AUSTRALIA: Gary Belcher, Andrew Ettingshausen, Mal Meninga (c), Laurie Daley, Dale Shearer, Cliff Lyons, Ricky Stuart, Glenn Lazarus, Ben Elias, Steve Roach, Paul Sironen, David Gillespie, Brad Mackay. Rep: Greg Alexander, Des Hasler, Mark Geyer, Mark Sargent

FRANCE: Michel Roses, Cyril Pons, Serge Bret, Denis Bienes, Alain Bouzer, David Fraisse, Patrick Entat (c), Serge Titeux, Thierry Valero, Christian Calvo, Daniel Divet, Daniel Verdes, Jacques Molinier. Rep: Marc Tisseyre, Patrick Marginet, Jacques Rouscayrol.

9 December 1990
Australia 34 - 10 France
Brad Mackay, Andrew Ettingshausen
Mal Meninga, Steve Roach
Dale Shearer, Greg Alexander
Greg Alexander (3)
Patrick Entat, Cyril Pons
Marc Tisseyre
Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Attendance: 2,000
Referee/s: J Holdsworth (England)

AUSTRALIA: Gary Belcher, Greg Alexander, Mal Meninga (c), Dale Shearer, Andrew Ettingshausen, Cliff Lyons, Ricky Stuart, Glenn Lazarus, Ben Elias, Steve Roach, Paul Sironen, Bob Lindner, Brad Mackay. Rep: David Gillespie, Chris Johns, Des Hasler, Mark Sargent

FRANCE: David Fraisse, Cyril Pons, Serge Bret, Guy Delaunay, Alain Bouzer, Jacques Molinier, Patrick Entat (c), Thiery Buttignol, Thierry Valero, Marc Tisseyre, Francis Lope, Daniel Divet, Daniel Verdes. Rep: Denis Bienes, Patrick Marginet.


Leading Try Scorer

Leading Point Scorer

Largest Attendance

Largest Club Game Attendance


  1. ^ Wilson, Andy (4 November 2011). "Wembley Rugby League internationals - in pictures". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Rothfield, Phil (2010-08-23). "Buzz names his top 10 NRL chokers". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  3. ^ "1. Great Britain v Australia, Old Trafford, 10 November 1990". Great Sporting Moments: Rugby League (London: independent.co.uk). 11 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
  • McGregor, Adrian (1991) Simply The Best, The 1990 Kangaroos, Uni of Queensland Press pages 225-225
  • Belcher, Gary (1991) Kangaroo Confidential Gary Belcher's Tour Diary, pages 138-150
  • Cochrane, Brett & Kerr, James (1991) Twenty Eight Heroes, Cochrane & Kerr, Sydney