1990 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France

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The 1990 Kangaroo Tour was the seventeenth Kangaroo Tour, where the Australian national rugby league team travelled to Europe and played eighteen matches against British and French club and representative rugby league teams, in addition to three Test matches against Great Britain and two Tests against the French. It followed the tour of 1986 and the next was staged in 1994.

This series was the closest the British team came to reclaiming The Ashes since last winning in Australia in 1970. Great Britain won the first Test at Wembley Stadium and in the second Test at Old Trafford in Manchester the match was tied at 10-all until the final minutes when Australia scored a late try to win the game. Australia then went on to easily win the third and deciding Test and retain The Ashes. Australia won both Test series against Great Britain and France, suffering one loss (against Great Britain in the first Test), and remaining undefeated in tour matches against British clubs in a streak stretching back to midway through the 1978 tour.

The 17th Kangaroo tour was televised back to Australia on the Ten Network with commentary provided by Graham Hughes and David Morrow. Also joining the commentary team at various stages, including the second Ashes Test at Old Trafford, were Manly-Warringah coach Graham Lowe and the captain of 1986 Kangaroos, Wally Lewis.

The squad's leadership[edit]

The team was coached by Bob Fulton making his third Kangaroo Tour, though his first as coach (Fulton had been captain of the Kangaroos on his previous tour as a player in 1978). Mal Meninga was making a record third consecutive tour and his first as captain, while Benny Elias was named as the tours vice-captain. As per custom, the Australian Rugby League appointed two tour managers, one each from the Queensland and New South Wales rugby leagues. Former Kangaroo captain Keith Barnes was team manager from NSW, while Les Stokes was the manager from Qld.

Other staff included trainers Shaun McRae, "The Sheriff" Brian Hollis, and World Champion boxing trainer Johnny Lewis as team conditioner. Manly-Warringah club doctor Nathan Gibbs, a former South Sydney and Parramatta forward who had retired from playing in 1984 to concentrate on his medical studies, was team doctor. Gibbs made the controversial decision during the selection medicals to rule Kangaroo stalwart and likely captain Wally Lewis unfit for the tour and thus unable to make a third consecutive tour alongside Meninga.

Touring squad[edit]

Player Club Position(s) Tests Games Tries Goals F/Goals Points
Greg Alexander Penrith Panthers Fullback, Halfback, Wing 4 17 14 50 - 156
Gary Belcher Canberra Raiders Fullback 5 11 6 1 1 27
Martin Bella Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Prop 1 11 - - - 0
Mark Carroll South Sydney Rabbitohs Second-row, Prop 0 6 2 - - 8
John Cartwright Penrith Panthers Second-row 1 9 1 - - 4
Laurie Daley Canberra Raiders Five-eighth, Centre 6 6 - - - 0
Ben Elias (vc) Balmain Tigers Hooker 4 10 2 - - 8
Andrew Ettingshausen Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Wing, Centre 5 12 15 - - 60
Brad Fittler Penrith Panthers Centre, Five-eighth, Lock 0 8 8 - - 32
Mark Geyer Penrith Panthers Second-row 1 11 4 - - 16
David Gillespie Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Second-row, Prop 3 10 1 - - 4
Michael Hancock Brisbane Broncos Wing 1 6 4 - - 16
Des Hasler Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Halfback, Lock, Wing 4 13 3 - - 12
Chris Johns Brisbane Broncos Wing, Centre 1 11 4 - - 16
Allan Langer Brisbane Broncos Halfback 1 11 4 - - 16
Glenn Lazarus Canberra Raiders Prop 5 13 2 - - 8
Bob Lindner Western Suburbs Magpies Lock, Second-row 4 10 2 - - 8
Cliff Lyons Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Five-eighth, Centre 4 8 3 - - 12
Brad Mackay St George Dragons Lock 4 12 4 - - 16
Mal Meninga (c) Canberra Raiders Centre 5 11 8 16 - 64
Mark McGaw Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Centre 1 6 1 - - 4
Steve Roach Balmain Tigers Prop 5 10 2 - - 8
Mark Sargent Newcastle Knights Prop 3 11 6 1 - 25
Dale Shearer Brisbane Broncos Wing, Centre 5 13 9 1 - 38
Paul Sironen Balmain Tigers Second-row 5 10 3 - - 12
Ricky Stuart Canberra Raiders Halfback, Five-eighth 5 9 1 - - 5
Kerrod Walters Brisbane Broncos Hooker 1 8 2 - - 8
Kevin Walters Brisbane Broncos Five-eighth, Halfback, Centre 0 8 5 - - 20

By Club[edit]

The touring side was represented by 18 New South Welshmen (N) and 10 Queenslanders (Q).

Mal Meninga was making his third Kangaroo Tour having also toured in 1982 and 1986. Greg Alexander, Gary Belcher, Martin Bella, Ben Elias, Des Hasler, Bob Lindner, Steve Roach, Dale Shearer and Paul Sironen were all 1986 tourists. For the rest of the squad it was their first ever Kangaroo Tour.

The Kangaroos went away with four club halfbacks in the squad. Test incumbent Allan Langer, Canberra's former Wallaby and dual premiership winning half Ricky Start, and former test halfbacks Des Hasler and Greg Alexander, though Hasler's ability to play almost anywhere in the backline as well as in the back row saw him as the team's utility player, while Alexander would play most of the tour as the backup fullback to Gary Belcher as well as two games on the wing against Widnes in the final club game on the English leg and also in the second test against France in the final game of the tour.

Great Britain[edit]

The Ashes series against Great Britain saw a record aggregate crowd of 133,684 attending the Test series, easily beating the previous record of 101,560 set on the 1986 Kangaroo Tour and was some 66,130 more than had attended the 1988 Ashes series in Australia. As with the 1982 and 1986 tours, the game against Wigan at Central Park drew the biggest club game attendance of the Kangaroo Tour with a crowd of 25,101. The tour took place during the 1990–91 Rugby Football League season.

Date Opponent Score Ground Referee Crowd Report
7 October St Helens 4-34 Knowsley Road, St Helens J. Holdsworth 15,219
10 October Wakefield Trinity 18-36 Belle Vue, Wakefield K. Allatt 7,083
14 October Wigan 6-34 Central Park, Wigan C. Morris 25,101
17 October Cumbria 10-42 Derwent Park, Workington J. Smith 6,750
21 October Leeds 10-22 Headingley Stadium, Leeds R. Tennant 16,307
27 October Great Britain 19-12 Wembley Stadium, London A. Sablayrolles (FRA) 54,569
31 October Warrington 6-26 Wilderspool Stadium, Warrington D. Carter 10,200
4 November Castleford 8-28 Wheldon Road, Castleford G. Kershaw 9,033
6 November Halifax 18-36 Thrum Hall, Halifax B. Galtress 8,730
10 November Great Britain 10-14 Old Trafford, Manchester A. Sablayrolles (FRA) 46,615
14 November Hull 4-34 The Boulevard, Hull D. Campbell 13,000
18 November Widnes 8-15 Naughton Park, Widnes J. Kendrew 14,666
24 November Great Britain 0-14 Elland Road, Leeds A. Sablayrolles (FRA) 32,500

The Ashes series[edit]

After heavy criticism of French referee Alain Sablayrolles (who could not speak English), this would be the final time an Ashes series was refereed by a Frenchman. From the 1992 series referees would be from either Australia, England or New Zealand.

First Test[edit]

In the first rugby league international played at Wembley for 17 years Ellery Hanley inspired a stirring first Test win in front of 54,569 fans, the largest ever Test attendance in England and breaking the record of 50,583 set at Old Trafford in the first Ashes Test of the 1986 Kangaroo tour.[1]

Lions coach Mal Reilly named the expected side, as did Bob Fulton. However, due to a broken hand suffered by Laurie Daley in the game against Leeds, Fulton elected to play Canberra Raiders halfback Ricky Stuart at Five-eighth.

Despite a brilliant individual try in the second half to Mark McGaw, and a try to Mal Meninga, the Aussies were in trouble all day. The Lions, led by inspirational captain Ellery Hanley and Five-eighth Garry Schofield were in front from the start following tries to Martin Offiah, and a double to Paul Eastwood, who scored the winning try and also kicked 3 goals. This was Great Britain's second straight win over Australia and ended any hopes that the 1990 Tour would emulate the unbeaten 1982 and 1986 Kangaroo tours.

27 October 1990
Great Britain  19 - 12  Australia
Paul Eastwood (2)
Martin Offiah
Paul Eastwood (3/6)
Field Goals:
Garry Schofield
Mark McGaw
Mal Meninga
Mal Meninga (2/4)
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 54,569
Referee/s: Alain Sablayrolles France
Man of the Match: Garry Schofield United Kingdom
Great Britain Position Australia
Steve Hampson FB Gary Belcher
Paul Eastwood WG Michael Hancock
Daryl Powell CE Mal Meninga (c)
Carl Gibson CE Mark McGaw
Martin Offiah WG Andrew Ettingshausen
Garry Schofield SO Ricky Stuart
Andy Gregory SH Allan Langer
Karl Harrison PR Martin Bella
Lee Jackson HK Kerrod Walters
Paul Dixon PR Steve Roach
Roy Powell SR John Cartwright
Denis Betts SR Paul Sironen
Ellery Hanley (c) LF Bob Lindner
Kevin Ward Int. Glenn Lazarus
Karl Fairbank Int. Des Hasler
Int. Greg Alexander
Int. Dale Shearer
Mal Reilly Coach Bob Fulton

Second Test[edit]

Bob Fulton made a number of changes from the first test loss at Wembley. Dale Shearer returned to the wing in place of Michael Hancock. A knee injury against Castleford when his knee had collided with the head of team mate Glenn Lazarus (who suffered a bad cut requiring 17 stitches) had ended centre Mark McGaw's tour with Laurie Daley coming into partner Meninga in the centres despite having a broken bone in his hand. Cliff Lyons, who had won a premiership with Manly under Fulton in 1987, was called up to make his test debut with Ricky Stuart moving to halfback in place of Allan Langer. Others coming into the side were Benny Elias (hooker), Glenn Lazarus (front row and playing in headgear to protect the stiches), while Brad Mackay come in at lock with Bob Lindner moving to the second row at the expense of John Cartwright. Mal Reilly stuck with much of the same side that had won the first test, though injury ruled out Roy Powell which saw the inclusion of Andy Platt into the team in the front row and Paul Dixon dropping back to the second row.

Dale Shearer made a welcome return to test football when he opened the scoring with a try midway through the first half. The Lions hit back early in the second half with a try to Paul Dixon who broke through Shearer's tackle and was able to score after Mal Meninga and fullback Gary Belcher had fallen off him after colliding with each other. Australia reclaimed the lead to a brilliant try to Cliff Lyons in his test debut. The ball passed through 12 sets of hands before Andrew Ettingshausen raced down the right wing and centre kicked for Lyons to regather and score beside the posts with Garry Schofield clinging to his waist. With just ten minutes left, Great Britain were poised to reclaim The Ashes after twenty years with an intercept try by replacement centre Paul Loughlin late in the match. Ricky Stuart had aimed a pass to Ettingshausen, but Loughlin intercepted it on the half way and raced 50 metres to score, though he was kept out wide due to a converging Laurie Daley. Winger Paul Eastwood (who asked noted goal kicker Loughlin if he wanted to take the kick as it suited his right foot kicking) then missed a simple conversion attempt that would have given his team the lead with time running out.[2] However the match remained tied at 10 all and after a Garry Schofield touch finder with less than 3 minutes remaining had the Kangaroos pinned only 10 metres out from their own line. After struggling to make ground following the scrum win, Ricky Stuart charged through a gap in the Lions defence and ran 70 metres downfield leaving tiring Lions players in his wake before passing to Mal Meninga in support who completed the length-of-the-field try to seal the match for Australia and force the series into a decider. Meninga missed the conversion of his own try, but it wasn't a factor as the siren sounded to end the match seconds after the kick.[3]

10 November 1990
Great Britain  10 - 14  Australia
Paul Dixon
Paul Loughlin

Paul Eastwood (1/3)
Dale Shearer
Cliff Lyons
Mal Meninga
Mal Meninga (1/4)
Old Trafford, Manchester
Attendance: 46,615
Referee/s: Alain Sablayrolles France
Man of the Match: Cliff Lyons Australia
Great Britain Position Australia
Steve Hampson FB Gary Belcher
Paul Eastwood WG Dale Shearer
Daryl Powell CE Mal Meninga (c)
Carl Gibson CE Laurie Daley
Martin Offiah WG Andrew Ettingshausen
Garry Schofield SO Cliff Lyons
Andy Gregory SH Ricky Stuart
Karl Harrison PR Steve Roach
Lee Jackson HK Ben Elias (vc)
Andy Platt PR Glenn Lazarus
Denis Betts SR Paul Sironen
Paul Dixon SR Bob Lindner
Ellery Hanley (c) LF Brad Mackay
Kevin Ward Int.
Paul Loughlin Int.
Mal Reilly Coach Bob Fulton

Third Test[edit]

In the third and final test of The Ashes series, Australia kept alive their series streak (not having lost The Ashes since Great Britain won in 1970 and not having lost them in England since 1959), with a 14-0 win in front of a packed Elland Road in Leeds. Australia ran in three tries to nil with Mal Meninga, Andrew Ettingshausen and Benny Elias all crossing the line while the lions rarely threatened the Kangaroos line in the wet and slippery conditions.

Kangaroos captain Mal Meninga became just the third Australian to score a try in each test of an Ashes series following on from legendary try-scoring winger Ken Irvine (1963), and the most unlikely of the trio, front-row forward Sam Backo (1988).

24 November 1990
Great Britain  0 - 14  Australia
Andrew Ettingshausen, Mal Meninga
Ben Elias
Mal Meninga (1/3)
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 32,500
Referee/s: Alain Sablayrolles France
Man of the Match: Ricky Stuart Australia
Great Britain Position Australia
Steve Hampson FB Gary Belcher
Paul Eastwood WG Dale Shearer
Daryl Powell CE Mal Meninga (c)
Carl Gibson CE Laurie Daley
Martin Offiah WG Andrew Ettingshausen
Garry Schofield SO Cliff Lyons
Andy Gregory SH Ricky Stuart
Karl Harrison PR Steve Roach
Lee Jackson HK Ben Elias (vc)
Andy Platt PR Glenn Lazarus
Denis Betts SR Paul Sironen
Paul Dixon SR Bob Lindner
Ellery Hanley (c) LF Brad Mackay
Mike Gregory Int. David Gillespie
Roy Powell Int. Des Hasler
Jonathan Davies Int. Mark Sargent
Int. Greg Alexander
Mal Reilly Coach Bob Fulton


Date Opponent Score Ground Referee Crowd Report
27 November President's XIII 18-46 Corbeil-Essonnes Stadium, Paris M. Millett 3,000
2 December France B 6-78 Georges Livet Stadium, Lyon M. Agali 2,000
2 December France 4-60 Parc de Sports, Avignon J Holdsworth (GB) 3,000
5 December Languedoc-Roussillon 9-38 Carcassonne M. Chamfreau 1,000
9 December France 10-34 Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan J Holdsworth (GB) 3,428

French Tests[edit]

First test[edit]

2 December 1990
France  4 - 60  Australia
David Fraisse
Greg Alexander (3), Gary Belcher (2)
Andrew Ettingshausen (2), Paul Sironen
Dale Shearer, David Gillespie
Glenn Lazarus
Greg Alexander (7)
Mal Meninga
Parc de Sports, Avignon
Attendance: 3,000
Referee/s: John Holdsworth England
Man of the Match: Greg Alexander Australia
France Position Australia
Michel Roses FB Gary Belcher
Cyril Pons WG Andrew Ettingshausen
Serge Bret CE Mal Meninga (c)
Denis Bienes CE Laurie Daley
Alain Bouzer WG Dale Shearer
David Fraisse SO Cliff Lyons
Patrick Entat (c) SH Ricky Stuart
Serge Titeux PR Glenn Lazarus
Thierry Valero HK Ben Elias
Christian Calvo PR Steve Roach
Daniel Divet SR Paul Sironen
Daniel Verdes SR David Gillespie
Jacques Molinier LF Brad Mackay
Marc Tisseyre Int. Greg Alexander
Patrick Marginet Int. Des Hasler
Jacques Rouscayrol Int. Mark Geyer
Int. Mark Sargent
Coach Bob Fulton

Second Test[edit]

9 December 1990
France  10 - 34  Australia
Patrick Entat, Cyril Pons
Marc Tisseyre
Brad Mackay, Andrew Ettingshausen
Mal Meninga, Steve Roach
Dale Shearer, Greg Alexander
Greg Alexander (3)
Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Attendance: 2,000
Referee/s: J Holdsworth England
Man of the Match: Cliff Lyons Australia
France Position Australia
David Fraisse FB Gary Belcher
Cyril Pons WG Greg Alexander
Serge Bret CE Mal Meninga (c)
Guy Delaunay CE Dale Shearer
Alain Bouzer WG Andrew Ettingshausen
Jacques Molinier SO Cliff Lyons
Patrick Entat (c) SH Ricky Stuart
Thiery Buttignol PR Glenn Lazarus
Thierry Valero HK Ben Elias
Marc Tisseyre PR Steve Roach
Francis Lope SR Paul Sironen
Daniel Divet SR Bob Lindner
Daniel Verdes LF Brad Mackay
Denis Bienes Int. David Gillespie
Patrick Marginet Int. Chris Johns
Int. Des Hasler
Int. Mark Sargent
Coach Bob Fulton


Leading Try Scorer

Leading Point Scorer

Largest Attendance

Largest Club Game Attendance

Bob Lindner was named the player's player of the tour.


  1. ^ Wilson, Andy (4 November 2011). "Wembley Rugby League internationals - in pictures". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Rothfield, Phil (2010-08-23). "Buzz names his top 10 NRL chokers". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  3. ^ "1. Great Britain v Australia, Old Trafford, 10 November 1990". Great Sporting Moments: Rugby League (London: independent.co.uk). 11 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
  • McGregor, Adrian (1991) Simply The Best, The 1990 Kangaroos, Uni of Queensland Press pages 225-225
  • Belcher, Gary (1991) Kangaroo Confidential Gary Belcher's Tour Diary, pages 138-150
  • Cochrane, Brett & Kerr, James (1991) Twenty Eight Heroes, Cochrane & Kerr, Sydney