1911–12 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain

The Kangaroo squad of 1911–12

The 1911–12 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain was the second ever Kangaroo tour and was actually a tour by an "Australasian" squad including four New Zealand players in addition to twenty-four Australian representatives.[1] It took place over the British winter of 1911–12 and this time, to help promote the game of Rugby league in New Zealand, the Northern Rugby Football Union invited a combined Australian and New Zealand team. They became the first tourists to win the Ashes.[2] and the last to do so on British soil for over half a century.[3] The tour was a success in performance and organisation. Matches were well attended, the squad's touring payments were maintained throughout and the players all shared in a bonus at the tour's end.

Touring squadEdit

Prior to the tour a three-way series of matches between New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand was organised as a basis of selection for the tour.[4] The New South Welshmen dominated the touring side, with four New Zealanders and only one Queenslander selected. However counted amongst the New South Welshmen was Con Sullivan, who had moved to Australia from New Zealand a few years before. Due to family and business commitments, rugby league great Dally Messenger declined to tour with the 1911–12 Kangaroos.[5] His friend and teammate Sandy Pearce also chose not to go.[6] Chris McKivat who had captained the 1908 Wallabies to Olympic Gold was at age 32 a natural selection as tour captain. The Heads/Middleton reference describes McKivat as being revered on that tour – a magnificent general, tough, durable and an inspiration to the men around him. It quotes Johnny Quinlan the tour co-manager "He always set a splendid example in conduct and training – a natural leader"[7] Tour vice-captain was Paddy McCue. Tour managers were Charles H Ford and John Quinlan. The team sailed to England on the RMS Orvieto. The tourists were paid £4/5/ per week and received a bonus of £178 each.[8]

New South WalesEdit

All eight teams of the New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership were represented in the touring squad.

New ZealandEdit

The New Zealand players that accompanied the Australians on tour have been listed in the Australian Rugby League's Kangaroos players register.[9]


Robert "Harold" Nicholson of Queensland was also selected for the tour but withdrew.[10]

Tour scheduleEdit

Played: 35 Won: 28 Drew: 2 Lost: 5 Ashes: Australia 2–0

Date Opponent Location Result Score Attendance
Match 1 23 September 1911   Midlands/Southern England The Butts Ground, Coventry Won 20–11 3,000
Match 2 25 September 1911   Yorkshire Bramall Lane, Sheffield Won 33–13 4,000
Match 3 30 September 1911   Broughton Rangers Wheater's Field, Broughton, Salford Won 18–8 12,000
Match 4 2 October 1911   Lancashire Ewood Park, Blackburn Won 25–12 5,000
Match 5 7 October 1911   Wales Bridgend Field, Ebbw Vale, Wales Won 28–20 7,000
Match 6 11 October 1911   Widnes Lowerhouse Lane, Widnes Won 23–0 5,000
Match 7 14 October 1911   St. Helens Knowsley Road, St. Helens Won 16–5 12,000
Match 8 18 October 1911   England XIII Craven Cottage, London Won 11–6 6,000
Match 9 22 October 1911   Hunslet Parkside, Hunslet Draw 3–3 4,000
Match 10 25 October 1911   Northern League XIII Goodison Park, Liverpool Won 16–3 6,000
Match 11 28 October 1911   Wigan Central Park, Wigan[11] Lost 2–7 25,000
Match 12 1 November 1911   Swinton Chorley Road, Swinton Won 28–9 4,000
Match 13 4 November 1911   Hull F.C. The Boulevard, Hull Won 26–7 6,000
Match 14 8 November 1911   Great Britain St James' Park, Newcastle Won 19–10 5,317
Match 15 11 November 1911   Oldham Watersheddings, Oldham Lost 8–14 10,000
Match 16 15 November 1911   Leigh Mather Lane, Leigh Won 13–12 6,000
Match 17 18 November 1911   Wakefield Trinity Belle Vue, Wakefield Won 24–10 5,000
Match 18 22 November 1911   Cumberland Athletic Ground, Maryport Won 5–2 6,000
Match 19 25 November 1911   Barrow Cavendish Park, Barrow Won 44–8 6,500
Match 20 29 November 1911   Runcorn Canal Street, Runcorn Won 23–7 2,000
Match 21 2 December 1911   Huddersfield Fartown, Huddersfield Lost 7–21 17,000
Match 22 6 December 1911   England XIII Trent Bridge, Nottingham Lost 3–5 3,000
Match 23 9 December 1911   Salford The Willows, Salford Won 6–3 4,000
Match 24 13 December 1911   York Clarence Street, York Won 16–8 1,500
Match 25 16 December 1911   Great Britain Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland Draw 11–11 8,000
Match 26 20 December 1911  /  Wales/West England Ashton Gate, Bristol Won 23–3 1,000
Match 27 23 December 1911   Rochdale Hornets Athletic Grounds, Rochdale Won 18–6 4,500
Match 28 26 December 1911   Halifax Thrum Hall, Halifax Won 23–5 10,000
Match 29 30 December 1911   Warrington Wilderspool, Warrington Won 34–6 8,500
Match 30 1 January 1912   Great Britain Villa Park, Birmingham Won 33–8 4,000
Match 31 6 January 1912   Leeds Headingley, Leeds Won 8–6 1,000
Match 32 13 January 1912   Hull Kingston Rovers Craven Street, Hull Won 5–2 7,000
Match 33 20 January 1912   Barrow Cavendish Park, Barrow Won 22–5 1,500
Match 34 27 January 1912   Batley Mount Pleasant, Batley Lost 5–13 2,000
Match 35 31 January 1912   Northern League XIII Central Park, Wigan Won 20–12 2,000
Match 36 3 February 1912   Runcorn Canal Street, Runcorn Won 54–6 1,500

Test matchesEdit

First Ashes TestEdit

Test No. 12

8 November 1911
Great Britain   10–19   Australasia
Will Davies (2)

Johnny Thomas (2)
[12] Tries:
Viv Farnsworth (2)
Howard Hallett
Billy Cann
Arthur Francis
Billy Cann (1)
Arthur Francis (1)
St James' Park, Newcastle
Attendance: 5,317
Referee: B. Ennion
The Kangaroos performing their war cry before the first Test.
Great Britain Position Australasia
Jim Sharrock FB Charles Fraser
Will Davies WG Albert Broomham
Bert Jenkins CE Howard Hallett
Harold Wagstaff CE Herb Gilbert
Joe Miller WG Charles Russell
Johnny Thomas (c) SO Viv Farnsworth
Fred Smith SH Chris McKivat (c)
James Clampitt PR Arthur Francis
Oliver Burgham HK Paddy McCue
Fred Harrison PR Billy Cann
Ben Gronow SR Tedda Courtney
Billy Winstanley SR Bob Williams
Albert Avery LF Bob Craig

In this match, Australia's Charles Fraser became Australia's youngest Test player at 18 years and 301 days, a record which would stand until 2007.

Second Ashes TestEdit

Test No. 13

16 December 1911
Great Britain   11–11   Australasia
Harold Wagstaff (2)
Jim Lomas

Alf Wood
[13] Tries:
Dan Frawley
Chris McKivat
Charlie Russell
Arthur Francis (1)
Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh
Attendance: 8,000
Referee: H. Renton
Great Britain Position Australasia
Alf Wood FB Howard Hallett
Albert Jenkinson WG Charles Russell
Jim Lomas (c) CE Viv Farnsworth
Harold Wagstaff CE Herb Gilbert
Billy Batten WG Dan Frawley
Jim Davies SO Bill Farnsworth
Fred Smith SH Chris McKivat (c)
Fred Harrison PR Arthur Francis
Tommy Woods HK Paddy McCue
Billy Winstanley PR Billy Cann
Dick Ramsdale SR Bill Noble
Doug Clark SR Tedda Courtney
Ben Gronow LF Bob Craig

McKivat lead the way for Australia dominating the rucks and scoring a vital try. Renowned Australian journalist Claude Corbett was acting as one of the touch judges and referee Renton, over-ruled his goal decision on one of the Australian conversion attempts.[14]

Third Ashes TestEdit

Test No. 14

1 January 1912
Great Britain   8–33   Australasia
Doug Clark
Jim Lomas

Alf Wood (1)
[15] Tries:
Tom Berecry (2)
Dan Frawley (2)
Paddy McCue (2)
Chris McKivat (2)
Viv Farnsworth
Dan Frawley (2)
Herb Gilbert (1)
Villa Park, Birmingham
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: R. Robinson
Great Britain Position Australasia
Alf Wood FB Howard Hallett
Billy Batten WG Dan Frawley
Jim Lomas (c) CE Viv Farnsworth
Bert Jenkins CE Herb Gilbert
Albert Jenkinson WG Tom Berecry
Fred Smith SO Bill Farnsworth
Jim Davies SH Chris McKivat (c)
Dick Ramsdale PR Con Sullivan
Billy Winstanley HK Paddy McCue
Doug Clark PR Billy Cann
Tommy Woods SR Bob Williams
Fred Harrison SR Bill Noble
Albert Avery LF Bob Craig

Great Britain only needed to win the third Test to tie the series and keep the Ashes but were reduced to 12 men early in the encounter after an injury to Dick Ramsdale. Great Britain led 8–0 early but had no answer to the Australian attack as they ran in nine tries.[14]

This would be the first (and final) time the Kangaroos would win The Ashes on British soil until the 1963–64 Kangaroo tour.


  1. ^ John Coffey, Bernie Wood (2008). 100 years: Māori rugby league, 1908–2008. Huia Publishers. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-86969-331-2.
  2. ^ "The history of rugby league". centenaryofrugbyleague.com.au. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  3. ^ Cunneen, Chris (2001). The best ever Australian Sports Writing. Australia: Black Inc. p. 321. ISBN 1-86395-266-7. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  4. ^ Fagan, Sean. "New Zealand 'Kangaroos'". rl1908.com. Archived from the original on 8 October 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  5. ^ Cuneen, Chris (2006). "Messenger, Herbert Henry (Dally) (1883–1959)". Australian dictionary of biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  6. ^ Kristine, Corcoran. "Pearce, Sidney Charles (Sandy) (1883–1930)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  7. ^ Ian Heads & David Middleton (2008). A Centenary of Rugby League. Macmillan Publishers. p. 47.
  8. ^ W. A. Cann (12 June 1946). "1908–09 Kangaroos blazed R. L. trail". Sydney Morning Herald, The. p. 9. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  9. ^ ARL. "Australian Kangaroos players register". australianrugbyleague.com.au. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  10. ^ QRL. "QRL History". Queensland representatives. qrl.com.au. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  11. ^ "1911 Tour Match: Wigan 7 Australia 2". cherryandwhite.co.uk. RLFANS.COM. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  12. ^ 1st Ashes Test
  13. ^ 2nd Ashes Test
  14. ^ a b Alan Whiticker, Captaining the Kangaroos (2004) New Holland p44
  15. ^ 3rd Ashes Test

External linksEdit