1972 Rugby League World Cup

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1972 (1972) World Cup  ()
Number of teams4
Host country France
Winner Great Britain (3rd title)

Matches played7
Attendance62,456 (8,922 per match)
Points scored240 (34.29 per match)
Top scorerUnited Kingdom John Holmes (26)
Top try scorerAustralia Bob Fulton (5)
 < 1970

The sixth Rugby League World Cup was held in France in October and November 1972. Australia started as the favourites to retain the trophy they had won just two years previously. New Zealand had beaten all three of the other nations in 1971 and France were expected to be tough opponents on their home soil. In the event Great Britain confounded most expectations by running out worthy winners and levelling their tally of World Cup wins at 3–3 with the Australians.

The final was held at Stade Gerland in Lyon. Great Britain played Australia and in the end, with scores level and unchanged after extra time, claimed the cup on league placing.

This was the last World Cup to be played under the four-tackle rule.



Marseille Paris Toulouse
Stade Vélodrome Parc des Princes Stadium Municipal
Capacity: 55,000 Capacity: 48,712 Capacity: 37,000
Vue du virage Depé.jpg Paris-Parc-des-Princes.jpg Stadium de Toulouse.jpg
Perpignan Pau Grenoble
Stade Gilbert Brutus Stade du Hameau Stade Lesdiguières
Capacity: 13,000 Capacity: 12,000 Capacity: 12,000
Tribune Guasch Laborde.JPG
Stade du Hameau - Pau
Stade du Hameau - Pau
Tribune lienard.jpg

Final Venue[edit]

Stade de Gerland
Capacity: 45,000


Group stage[edit]

Team Pld W D L PF PA Diff Pts Qualification
 Great Britain 3 3 0 0 93 44 +49 6 Advances to the Final
 Australia 3 2 0 1 61 41 +20 4
 France 3 1 0 2 33 53 −20 2
 New Zealand 3 0 0 3 33 82 −49 0
28 October 1972 France  20 – 9  New Zealand Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
29 October 1972 Great Britain  27 – 21  Australia Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpingnan
1 November 1972 France  4 – 13  Great Britain Stade Lesdiguières, Grenoble
1 November 1972 Australia  9 – 5  New Zealand Parc des Princes, Paris
4 November 1972 Great Britain  53 – 19  New Zealand Stade du Hameau, Pau
5 November 1972 France  9 – 31  Australia Stadium Municipal, Toulouse


11 November 1972
Great Britain  10–10
Clive Sullivan
Mike Stephenson
Terry Clawson (2)
[1] Tries:
John O'Neill
Arthur Beetson
Ray Branighan (2)
Stade de Gerland, Lyon
Attendance: 4,231
Referee: Georges Jameau France
Great Britain
FB 1 Redscolours.svg Paul Charlton
RW 2 Hullcolours.svg Clive Sullivan (c)
RC 3 Redscolours.svg Chris Hesketh
LC 4 Saintscolours.svg John Walsh
LW 5 Rhinoscolours.svg John Atkinson
SO 6 Rhinoscolours.svg John Holmes
SH 7 Fevcolours.svg Steve Nash
PR 8 Rhinoscolours.svg Terry Clawson
HK 9 Ramscolours.svg Mike Stephenson
PR 10 Rhinoscolours.svg David Jeanes
SR 11 HKRcolours.svg Phil Lowe
SR 12 Castleford colours.svg Brian Lockwood
LF 13 Widnes colours.svg George Nicholls
IC 14 Oldhamcolours.svg Bob Irving
IC 15
England Jim Challinor
FB 1 St. George colours.svg Graeme Langlands (c)
RW 2 South Sydney colours.svg John Grant
RC 3 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Mark Harris
LC 4 Balmain colours.svg Geoff Starling
LW 5 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Ray Branighan
FE 6 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Bob Fulton
HB 7 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Dennis Ward
PR 8 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg John O'Neill
HK 9 South Sydney colours.svg Elwyn Walters
PR 10 Parramatta colours.svg Bob O'Reilly
SR 11 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Arthur Beetson
SR 12 South Sydney colours.svg Gary Stevens
LK 13 Newtown colours.svg Gary Sullivan
IC 14 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Fred Jones
IC 15
Australia Harry Bath

The French public seemed uninterested in a final that did not involve the home team, as just over 4,200 spectators turned up. The game will always be remembered by the British for their captain Clive Sullivan's wonderful long distance try[2][3] and by the Australians for perhaps "the greatest try never scored",[4] later shown on TV to be legitimately scored by Australian fullback Graeme Langlands but disallowed by French referee Georges Jameau.[5] Mike Stephenson scored the 73rd-minute try that helped Great Britain level the scores and secure the World Cup.[6] Had Aussie winger Ray Branighan succeeded with a 79th-minute penalty or Bob Fulton landed one of three drop goal attempts in the last five minutes, the cup could easily have gone to Australia. But for the first time in the competition's history the scores were level at full-time. An additional twenty minutes extra time was played, but no further score resulted, and Great Britain were awarded the cup by virtue of a better position in the table.

Try scorers[edit]



  1. ^ Report
  2. ^ Wright, J (23 August 2007). "Rugby League's Greatest Ever Full-back". Times & Star. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  3. ^ Paddy McAteer (22 December 2010) "Whole World in their Hands" Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine North West Evening Mail
  4. ^ Kdouh, Fatima (28 November 2013). "We take a look back at the greatest Rugby League World Cup finals of all time". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  5. ^ Chesterton, Ray (24 October 2008). "Langlands denied greatest try ever". The Daily Telegraph. Australia: News Limited. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  6. ^ Hughes, Ed (31 October 2004). "Caught in Time: Great Britain prepare for 1972 rugby league World Cup final". The Sunday Times. UK: Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 18 October 2010.

External links[edit]