1972 Rugby League World Cup
|Number of teams||4|
|Winner||Great Britain (3rd title)|
|Attendance||62,456 (8,922 per match)|
|Points scored||240 (34.29 per match)|
|Top scorer||John Holmes (26)|
|Top try scorer||Bob Fulton (5)|
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.
This was the last World Cup to be played under the four-tackle rule.
|Stade Vélodrome||Parc des Princes||Stadium Municipal|
|Capacity: 55,000||Capacity: 48,712||Capacity: 37,000|
|Stade Gilbert Brutus||Stade du Hameau||Stade Lesdiguières|
|Capacity: 13,000||Capacity: 12,000||Capacity: 12,000|
|Great Britain||3||3||0||0||93||44||+49||6||Advances to the Final|
|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
Terry Clawson (2)
Ray Branighan (2)
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 and by the Australians for perhaps "the greatest try never scored", later shown on TV to be legitimately scored by Australian fullback Graeme Langlands but disallowed by French referee Georges Jameau. Mike Stephenson scored the 73rd-minute try that helped Great Britain level the scores and secure the World Cup. 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.
- 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.
- Paddy McAteer (22 December 2010) "Whole World in their Hands" Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine North West Evening Mail
- 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.
- Chesterton, Ray (24 October 2008). "Langlands denied greatest try ever". The Daily Telegraph. Australia: News Limited. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- 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.