1972 Rugby League World Cup

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1972 (1972) World Cup  ()
Number of teams 4
Host country  France
Winner  Great Britain (3rd title)

Matches played 7
Attendance 62,456 (8,922 per match)
Points scored 240 (34.29 per match)
Top scorer United Kingdom John Holmes (26)
Top try scorer Australia 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.



The Australian team was coached by Harry Bath


Great Britain[edit]

The Great Britain team was coached by Jim Challinor

New Zealand[edit]

Mita Mohi


28 October
France  20–9  New Zealand
Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Attendance: 20,748

France kicked off the tournament by sharing six tries with the Kiwis but a massive penalty count in their favour allowed the French to dictate play, their five goals and a drop goal to none by the Kiwis proving decisive.

29 October
Australia  21–27  Great Britain
Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Attendance: 6,300

At Perpignan a monumental struggle finally went Britain's way 27–21 against the Kangaroos, for whom Bobby Fulton grabbed three tries in a lost cause.

1 November
France  4–13  Great Britain
Stade Lesdiguières, Grenoble
Attendance: 5,321

Britain overcame France 13–4 to qualify for the final with outstanding second-rower Phil Lowe scoring two tries.

1 November
Australia  9–5  New Zealand
Parc des Princes, Paris
Attendance: 8,000

New Zealand gave Australia a hard time, the first half being scoreless, before going down 5–9.

4 November
Great Britain  53–19  New Zealand
Stade du Hameau, Pau
Attendance: 7,500

Britain hammered New Zealand 53–19, a World Cup record score, with young stand-off half John Holmes collecting 26 points (10 goals, 2 tries) – another World Cup record.

5 November
France  9–31  Australia
Stadium Municipal, Toulouse
Attendance: 10,332

Australia had to beat France at Toulouse to reach the final in the last game of the preliminaries, a task which proved well within their capabilities.

Final standings[edit]

Team Played Won Drew Lost  For  Against Difference Points
 Great Britain 3 3 0 0 93 44 +49 6
 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



Great Britain: Paul Charlton; Clive Sullivan (c) [1 try], Chris Hesketh, John Walsh, John Atkinson; John Holmes, Steve Nash; Terry Clawson [2 goals], Mike Stephenson [1 try], David Jeanes, Phil Lowe, Brian Lockwood, George Nicholls; Robert "Bob" Irving; Coach: Jim Challinor

Australia: Graeme Langlands (c); John Grant, Mark Harris, Geoff Starling, Ray Branighan [2 goals]; Bob Fulton, Dennis Ward; John O'Neill [1 try], Elwyn Walters, Bob O'Reilly, Arthur Beetson [1 try], Gary Stevens, Gary Sullivan.

11 November
Australia  10–10
 Great Britain
Stade de Gerland, Lyon
Attendance: 4,231
Referee: Georges Jameau (France)

The French public seemed uninterested in a final that did not involve the home team, as less than 4,500 spectators turned up. The game will always be remembered by the British for their captain Clive Sullivan's wonderful long distance try[1][2] and by the Australians for perhaps "the greatest try never scored",[3] later shown on TV to be legitimately scored by Australian fullback Graeme Langlands but disallowed by French referee Georges Jameau.[4] Mike Stephenson scored the 73rd-minute try that helped Great Britain level the scores and secure the World Cup.[5] 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.


  1. ^ Wright, J (23 August 2007). "Rugby League's Greatest Ever Full-back". Times & Star. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Paddy McAteer (22 December 2010) "Whole World in their Hands" North West Evening Mail
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Chesterton, Ray (24 October 2008). "Langlands denied greatest try ever". The Daily Telegraph (Australia: News Limited). Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  5. ^ 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]