1954 Rugby League World Cup

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1954 (1954) World Cup  ()
Number of teams 4
Host country  France
Winner  Great Britain (1st title)

Matches played 7
Attendance 138,329 (19,761 per match)
Points scored 231 (33 per match)
Top scorer United Kingdom Jimmy Ledgard (29)
Top try scorer United Kingdom Gordon Brown (6)

The 1954 Rugby League World Cup was rugby league football's first World Cup and was held in France in October-November 1954.[1] Officially known as the "Rugby World Cup",[2] four nations competed in the tournament: Australia, France, Great Britain and New Zealand. A group stage was held first, with Great Britain topping the table as a result of points difference. They went on to defeat France (who finished second in the table, level on points) in the final, which was held at Paris' Parc des Princes before approximately 31,000 spectators.[3]

The prime instigators behind the idea of holding a rugby league world cup were the French, who were short of money following the seizing of their assets by French rugby union in the Second World War. The first rugby league world cup was an unqualified success. It was played in a uniformly good spirit, provided an excellent standard of play and was a fitting celebration of France's 20th anniversary as a rugby league-playing nation. The trophy, which was donated by the French, was worth eight million francs.[4]


The World Cup was a French initiative. Led by Paul Barrière, who donated the Rugby League World Cup trophy himself,[5] they had been campaigning for such a tournament since before the Second World War. Teams from Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States were invited to join the hosts, France, for the first World Cup in 1953.[6] However, the tournament was not held until 1954, with all teams except the United States participating.

The uncertainty of the ultimate outcome was of particular interest. In the early 1950s all four competing nations were quite capable of beating each other – no test series in the period was a foregone conclusion.

If there were a favourite it was Australia who had just won back the Ashes. However, in 1953 they had lost series to both the French and the Kiwis, while Great Britain had defeated New Zealand on the second half of their 1954 Australasian tour.

The form book merely provided a conundrum which was made more confusing when the British were forced, through injuries and players making themselves unavailable, to select a raw and largely untried squad which was given little credibility by the cynics.

The captains for this historic event were Puig-Aubert (France), Cyril Eastlake (New Zealand), Clive Churchill (Australia) and Dave Valentine (Britain). The referees were Warrington's Charlie Appleton and Rene Guidicelli (Perpignan).


Team Nickname Coach Captain
 Australia (1st appearance) The Kangaroos Vic Hey Clive Churchill
 New Zealand (1st appearance) The Kiwis Jim Amos Cyril Eastlake
 Great Britain (1st appearance) The Lions G. Shaw Dave Valentine
 France (1st appearance) Les Chanticleers Puig Aubert


Group stage[edit]

Key to colours in group tables
Advances to the Final
Team Played Won Drew Lost For Against Difference Points
 Great Britain 3 2 1 0 67 32 +35 5
 France 3 2 1 0 50 31 +19 5
 Australia 3 1 0 2 52 58 −6 2
 New Zealand 3 0 0 3 34 82 −48 0
30 October 1954 France  22–13  New Zealand Parc des Princes, Paris
31 October 1954 Australia  13–28  Great Britain Stade de Gerland, Lyon
7 November 1954 France  13–13  Great Britain Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
7 November 1954 Australia  34–15  New Zealand Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
11 November 1954 Great Britain  26–6  New Zealand Stade Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux
11 November 1954 France  15–5  Australia Stade Marcel Saupin, Nantes


13 November 1954
France  12–16  Great Britain
Vincent Cantoni
Raymond Contrastin
Puig Aubert
Report Tries:
Gordon Brown (2)
David Rose
Gerry Helme
Jimmy Ledgard
Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: 30,368
Referee/s: Charles Appleton United Kingdom
Man of the Match: Don Robinson Great Britain colours.svg



  1. ^ 1954 World Cup at rugbyleagueplanet.com
  2. ^ SPARC, 2009: 28
  3. ^ 1954 World Cup at rugbyleagueproject.org
  4. ^ RLIF. "Past Winners: 1954". Rugby League International Federation. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008. 
  5. ^ "1954 World Cup". 188 Rugby League. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012.  at 188-rugby-league.co.uk
  6. ^ AAP (19 January 1953). "World Cup Suggestion". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. p. 7. Retrieved 25 December 2009.