1954: Great Britain
1954 Rugby League World Cup
The inaugural Rugby League World Cup was the initiative of the French. The French side of the early fifties is still recognized as one of the most powerful and skilful teams in Rugby League history. The French struck early at the state of the art ground, Parc de Princes in Paris, beating New Zealand 22-13. The four-team tournament, which also included Australia’s Kangaroos and Great Britain’s Lions, saw each nation play the other three sides once, with a points table used to decide the winner.
France and Britain staged an epic 13-all draw in Toulouse before 37,000 fans, and with the Aussies and Kiwis floundering through the series, it left the two northern hemisphere teams equal at the top of the table – the inaugural World Cup Final was required to decide the ultimate victor.
Returning to Parc de Princes for the Final, the enigmatic French fullback Puig Aubert led his team on to field to the hopeful cheers of over 30,000 Parisians and visitors alike. The match was shown live-to-air on television across the UK. In what proved to be an epic Final, showcasing the spectacle and ardor of the 13-man game, the British came from behind to lower France’s flag 16-12, with their best work coming from their inspirational leader Dave Valentine, along with Gerry Helme, Phil Jackson and Mick Sullivan.
Great Britain 16 - 12 France
November 13th 1954
Parc des Princes, Paris
Referee: Charlie Appleton (Warrington, England)
France: Puig Aubert (C), Contrastin, Merquey, Tesseire, Cantoni, Jiminez, Crespo, Rinaldi, Audobert, Krawzyk, Save, Pambrun, Verdier
Tries: Cantoni, Contrastin. Goals: Puig Aubert 3
Great Britain: Ledgard, Rose, Jackson, Naughton, Sullivan, Brown, Brown, Helme, Thorley, Smith, Coverdale, Watts, Robinson, Valentine (C)
Tries: Brown 2, Rose, Helme. Goals: Ledgard 2
1954 World Cup Results
France beat New Zealand: 22 - 13 at Parc des Princes, Paris. Attendance: 13,240
Great Britain beat Australia: 28 - 13 at Lyon. Attendance: 10,250
Australia beat New Zealand: 34 - 15 at Marseille. Attendance: 20,000
France drew with Great Britain: 13 - 13 at Toulouse. Attendance: 37,471
France beat Australia: 15 - 5 at Nantes. Attendance: 13,000
Great Britain beat New Zealand: 26 - 6 at Bordeaux. Attendance: 14,000