1977 Rugby League World Cup

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1977 (1977) World Cup  ()
Number of teams 4
Host countries  Australia
 New Zealand
Winner  Australia (5th title)

Matches played 7
Attendance 109,688 (15,670 per match)
Points scored 235 (33.57 per match)
Top scorer United Kingdom George Fairbairn (34)
Top try scorers Australia Allan McMahon (4)
Australia Graham Eadie (4)
 < 1975

The 1977 Rugby League World Cup was the eighth Rugby League World Cup tournament and was held in Australasia, with games played during May and June in both Australia and New Zealand. It featured four teams: Great Britain and France in addition to the two host nations. All teams played each other once, resulting in a top two of Great Britain and Australia who played in the tournament final at the Sydney Cricket Ground with the home team winning by one point.

The tournament as held during the 1977 NSWRFL season and 1977 New Zealand rugby league season. That the final would be between Great Britain and Australia soon became obvious, with France and New Zealand both performing poorly.


Team Nickname Coach Captain
 Australia (8th appearance) The Kangaroos Terry Fearnley Arthur Beetson
 New Zealand (8th appearance) The Kiwis Ron Ackland Tony Coll
 Great Britain (8th appearance) The Lions Reg Parker Roger Millward
 France (8th appearance) Les Chanticleers José Calle Yves Bergou


Australia Sydney Australia Brisbane
Sydney Cricket Ground Lang Park
Capacity: 70,000 Capacity: 35,000
Sydney Showground and Cricket Ground 1936 (14019783946).jpg Suncorp-Stadium-Milton-Queensland.jpg
New Zealand Auckland New Zealand Christchurch
Carlaw Park Addington Showground
Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 15,000
Carlaw Park.jpg Addington Rugby Stadium.jpg


Group stage[edit]

Key to colours in group tables
Advances to the Final
Team Played Won Drew Lost  For  Against Difference Points
 Australia 3 3 0 0 67 26 +41 6
 Great Britain 3 2 0 1 58 35 +23 4
 New Zealand 3 1 0 2 52 77 −25 2
 France 3 0 0 3 33 72 −39 0
29 May
New Zealand  12 – 27  Australia
Carlaw Park, Auckland
Attendance: 18,000
5 June
France  4 – 23  Great Britain
Carlaw Park, Auckland
Attendance: 10,000
11 June
Australia  21 – 9  France
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 13,231
12 June
New Zealand  12 – 30  Great Britain
Addington Showground, Christchurch
Attendance: 9,000
18 June
Australia  19 – 5  Great Britain
Lang Park, Brisbane
Attendance: 27,000
19 June
New Zealand  28 – 20  France
Carlaw Park, Auckland
Attendance: 8,000


25 June
Australia  13 – 12  Great Britain
Allan McMahon
Russel Gartner
John Kolc
Michael Cronin (2/4)
[1] Tries:
Steve Pitchford
Ken Gill

George Fairbairn (3/4)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 24,457
Referee/s: Billy Thompson England
Man of the Match: John Kolc Australian colours.svg
Great Britain
FB 1 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Graham Eadie
RW 2 Balmain colours.svg Allan McMahon
RC 3 Parramatta colours.svg Michael Cronin
LC 4 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Russel Gartner
LW 5 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Mark Harris
FE 6 Parramatta colours.svg John Peard
HB 7 Parramatta colours.svg John Kolc
LK 8 Cronulla colours.svg Greg Pierce
SR 9 Parramatta colours.svg Ray Higgs
SR 10 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Arthur Beetson (c)
PR 11 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Terry Randall
HK 12 Norths Devils colours.svg Nick Geiger
PR 13 Western Suburbs colours.svg Greg Veivers
IC 14 Parramatta colours.svg Denis Fitzgerald
IC 15
Australia Terry Fearnley
FB 1 Wigancolours.svg George Fairbairn
RW 2 Widnes colours.svg Stuart Wright
RC 3 Rhinoscolours.svg John Holmes
LC 4 Rhinoscolours.svg Les Dyl
LW 5 Wigancolours.svg Bill Francis
SO 6 HKRcolours.svg Roger Millward (c)
SH 7 Redscolours.svg Steve Nash
LF 8 Barrowcolours.svg Phil Hogan
SR 9 Workingtoncolours.svg Eddie Bowman
SR 10 HKRcolours.svg Len Casey
PR 11 Fevcolours.svg Jimmy Thompson
HK 12 Widnes colours.svg Keith Elwell
PR 13 Rhinoscolours.svg Steve Pitchford
IC 14 Redscolours.svg Ken Gill
IC 15 Fevcolours.svg Peter Smith
Wales David Watkins

After their 19–5 win over Great Britain a week earlier at Lang Park in Brisbane (which actually drew 2,543 more fans than the Final), the Australians went into the Final as warm favourites. However, led by experienced captain Roger Millward, the Lions managed to dominate possession throughout the game, and it took a last minute try from Australian halfback John Kolc (playing his only international game for Australia) to secure the Cup in front of 24,457 spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

1st Half[edit]

The Australian's opened the scoring through Allan McMahon who scored in the Paddington corner. Michael Cronin kicked the sideline conversion and Australia led 5–0. Great Britain soon his back with a try to Steve Pitchford. George Fairbairn converted the try to lock the scores at 5–5. The match was then highlighted by a 60-metre try to Australian centre Russel Gartner who pounced on a dropped ball from Lions fullback Fairbairn after a Great Britain scrum win to race away and score. Only converging defence from Gartner's opposite number Les Dyl kept him from scoring closer to the posts, giving Cronin a difficult conversion from midway between the posts and the touch line. Cronin missed the attempt and the Australian's led 8–5. Fairbairn then kicked a penalty goal to make the scores 8–7 closing in on half time.

Late in the first half the gritty and determined Lions were considered unlucky not to score when they were denied what would have been a certain try to winger Stuart Wright by English referee Billy Thompson. Wright had intercepted a pass from Cronin to Mark Harris 15 metres from the Australian line and was racing downfield with no one near him when Thompson called play back for an obstruction penalty to Great Britain rather than play advantage. Had Wright scored, and likely under the posts, it could have given the visitors a 12–8 lead going into the break. Instead, soon after Cronoin kicked a penalty goal from in front of the posts to make the score 10–7 going into half time.

2nd Half[edit]

Australia took the lead out to 13–7 after a try to John Kolc in the Randwick corner in front of the Bradman Stand. Fairbairn had dropped a downfield kick by Cronin and the ball was pounced upon by Allan McMahon. From acting half, Kolc then dummied which fooled Fairbairn and Bill Francis and he raced away to score in the corner. Cronin missed the difficult kick from the sideline and the score remained at 13–7.

The Lions then hit back with a try under the posts to replacement back Ken Gill which was converted by Fairbairn to bring the scores to 13–12. After Kolc was penalised for using an elbow on Roger Millward who was chasing his own chip-kick, Fairbairn then had a late chance to give Great Britain the lead with a penalty goal from 45 metres out, though his went just to the right of the posts into the waiting arms of Australian fullback Graham Eadie who took full advantage of the Lions defence line still being near halfway to run the ball back outside the Australian quarter line.[2]


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