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1929–30 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain

The Australian rugby league team performing their pre-match war cry.

The 1929–30 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain was the fourth Kangaroo tour, and took the Australia national rugby league team all around England and also into Wales. The tour featured the ninth Ashes series which comprised four Test matches and was won by Great Britain. The team sailed on the SS Orsova via the Panama Canal and played an exhibition game in New York before arriving in England.


Touring squadEdit

The Australian tourists with their tour bus in England.

A total of 28 footballers were selected to go on the tour: 13 from clubs of Sydney's NSWRFL Premiership, 4 from clubs of the Toowoomba Rugby League, 3 from clubs of the Brisbane Rugby League premiership, 3 from clubs of the Ipswich Rugby League and 5 from elsewhere in country New South Wales and Queensland. In Sydney on 24 July 1929, the day before the Kangaroos were to sail to England, Queensland's Tom Gorman was named captain of the squad.[1] He was the first Queenslander to captain a touring Kangaroos side and would be the last until Wally Lewis in 1986.[2] South Sydney's Arthur Hennessey joined the tour as non-playing coach,[3] the first such appointment till Clive Churchill in 1959.[4] The tour manager was Harry Sunderland.[5]

The players were paid £4 10s per week from the time they left Sydney till they returned. The English and Australian Leagues agreed on strict rules prohibiting English clubs from signing the Australian players during the tour.[6]

Name Posit. Club Tests
Vic Armbruster Forward Fortitude Valley 3
George Bishop Hooker Balmain 2
Bill Brogan Forward Western Suburbs (Sydney) 3
Joe Busch Half Eastern Suburbs (Sydney) 4
Dan Dempsey Hooker Tivoli 1
Arthur Edwards Half Fortitude Valley 0
Cec Fifield Three-quarter Western Suburbs (Sydney) 4
Harry Finch Three-quarter South Sydney 0
Tom Gorman (c) Three-quarter Brothers (Brisbane) 4
Arthur Henderson Hooker Booval 0
Jack Holmes Half Newtown (Sydney) 0
Arthur Justice Hooker St. George 2
Harry Kadwell Half South Sydney 0
Jack Kingston Forward Cootamundra 2
Fred Laws Half Newtown (Toowoomba) 1
Mick Madsen Forward Brothers (Toowoomba) 2
Paddy Maher Three-quarter South Sydney 0
Frank McMillan Fullback Western Suburbs (Sydney) 4
Wally Prigg Forward Central Newcastle 2
Alan Ridley Three-quarter Queanbeyan 0
Eddie Root Forward South Sydney 0
Les Sellars Forward Starlights (Ipswich) 0
Bill Shankland Three-quarter Eastern Suburbs (Sydney) 4
Bill Spencer Three-quarter ? (Bundaberg) 4
Herb Steinohrt Forward Valleys (Toowoomba) 3
George Treweek Forward South Sydney 4
Jack Upton Fullback Souths (Toowoomba) 0
Eric Weissel Half Temora 3


Saturday, 7 September
Rochdale Hornets   3 – 36   Australasia
Athletic Grounds, Rochdale
Attendance: 6,521

Wednesday, 11 September
York   11 – 32   Australasia
Wigginton Road, York
Attendance: 4,729

Saturday, 14 September
Batley   5 – 27   Australasia
Mount Pleasant, Batley
Attendance: 6,000

Thursday, 19 September
Widnes   13 – 37   Australasia
Lowerhouse Lane, Widnes
Attendance: 6,000

Saturday, 21 September
Broughton Rangers   8 – 21   Australasia
The Cliff, Broughton, Salford
Attendance: 6,514

Thursday, 26 September
Lancashire 14 – 29   Australasia
Wilderspool, Warrington
Attendance: 24,000

Saturday, 28 September
Wakefield Trinity   14 – 3   Australasia
Belle Vue, Wakefield
Attendance: 9,786

Thursday, 1 October
Keighley   9 – 15   Australasia
Lawkholme Lane, Keighley
Attendance: 3,000

1st TestEdit

In the tour matches leading up to the first Test, the Australian team had won 7 of their 8 games.[6] The English team was weakened by the absence of their usual captain, Jonty Parkin (who was suffering from lower back pain), as well as Brough and Ellaby

Saturday, 5 October 1929
The Lions   8 – 31   Australia
Jack Feetham
Alf Middleton

Joe Thompson (1)
[9] Tries:
Bill Shankland (2)
George Bishop
Wally Prigg
Bill Spencer
George Treweek
Eric Weissel
Eric Weissel (5)
Craven Park, Hull
Attendance: 20,000[7]
Referee: R. Robinson  
Kangaroos 1st Test 1929.
The Lions Posit. Australia
Tom Rees FB Frank McMillan
Emlyn Gwynne WG Bill Spencer
Roy Kinnear CE Cec Fifield
Billy Dingsdale CE Tom Gorman (c)
Alf Frodsham WG Bill Shankland
Les Fairclough (c) SO Eric Weissel
Billo Rees SH Joe Busch
Harold Bowman PR Peter Madsen
Nat Bentham HK George Bishop
Joe Thompson PR Bill Brogan
Bill Horton SR Vic Armbruster
Alf Middleton SR George Treweek
Jack Feetham LF Wally Prigg

Australia had scored four tries by half time. England's first try came 14 minutes into the second half. This was England captain Les Fairclough's last match against the Australians.[8]

Wednesday, 9 October
Castleford   2 – 53   Australasia
Wheldon Road, Castleford
Attendance: 4,000

Saturday, 12 October
Huddersfield   8 – 18   Australasia
Fartown, Huddersfield
Attendance: 18,560

Wednesday, 16 October
Leigh   16 – 19   Australasia
Mather Lane, Leigh
Attendance: 8,000

Saturday, 19 October
Barrow   10 – 13   Australasia
Little Park, Barrow
Attendance: 10,000

Wednesday, 23 October
Leeds   10 – 13   Australasia
Headingley, Leeds
Attendance: 10,000

Saturday, 26 October
Hull F.C.   2 – 35   Australasia
The Boulevard, Hull
Attendance: 10,000

Saturday, 2 November
Oldham   10 – 18   Australasia
Watersheddings, Oldham
Attendance: 18,000

2nd TestEdit

In response to their loss to the Australians in the previous Test, the British made several changes to their side for the 2nd Test.

Saturday, 9 November 1929
The Lions   9 – 3   Australia
Artie Atkinson
Jim Sullivan (3)
[17] Tries:
Bill Shankland
Headingley, Leeds
Attendance: 31,402
Referee: R. Robinson  
The Lions Posit. Australia
Jim Sullivan FB Frank McMillan
Alf Ellaby WG Bill Spencer
Artie Atkinson CE Tom Gorman (c)
Billy Dingsdale CE Cec Fifield
Stanley Smith WG Bill Shankland
Billo Rees SO Eric Weissel
Jonty Parkin (c) SH Joe Busch
Dai Jenkins PR Herb Steinohrt
Nat Bentham HK George Bishop
William Burgess PR Peter Madsen
Martin Hodgson SR George Treweek
Albert Fildes SR Dan Dempsey
Fred Butters LF Wally Prigg

England, with the help of Parkin closed the gap between themselves and the Australians, with Sullivan's goal kicking giving the home team a winning margin of 9–3.[9]

Wednesday, 13 November
Bradford Northern   17 – 26   Australasia
Birch Lane, Bradford
Attendance: 7,000

Saturday, 16 November
St. Helens   18 – 18   Australasia
Knowsley Road, St. Helens
Attendance: 9,500

Wednesday, 20 November
Yorkshire   12 – 25   Australasia
Belle Vue, Wakefield
Attendance: 7,011

Saturday, 23 November
Halifax   9 – 58   Australasia
Thrum Hall, Halifax
Attendance: 8,440

Saturday, 30 November
Swinton   9 – 58   Australasia
Station Road, Swinton
Attendance: 9,000

Tuesday, 3 December
English League XIII   18 – 5   Australasia
Central Park, Wigan
Attendance: 9,987

Saturday, 7 December
Cumberland   8 – 5   Australasia
Lonsdale Park, Workington
Attendance: 3,500

Wednesday, 11 December
Glamorgan/Monmouth   9 – 39   Australasia
White City Stadium, Cardiff
Attendance: 3,000

Saturday, 14 December
St Helens Recreation   8 – 22   Australasia
City Road, St. Helens
Attendance: 9,000

Wednesday, 18 December
English League XIII   22 – 32   Australasia
St James' Park, Newcastle
Attendance: 9,690

Saturday, 21 December
Warrington   17 – 8   Australasia
Wilderspool, Warrington
Attendance: 12,826

Wednesday, 25 December
Hunslet   18 – 3   Australasia
Parkside, Hunslet
Attendance: 12,000

Thursday, 26 December
Hull Kingston Rovers   5 – 10   Australasia
Craven Park, Hull
Attendance: 12,000

Saturday, 28 December
Wigan   9 – 10   Australasia
Central Park, Wigan
Attendance: 8,000

3rd TestEdit

England had held the Ashes for almost 20 years, and this match would decide whether they were to continue doing so.

Saturday, 4 January 1930
The Lions   0 – 0   Australia

[31] Tries:

Station Road, Swinton
Attendance: 33,809
Referee: Bob Robinson  
The Lions Posit. Australia
Jim Sullivan FB Frank McMillan
Alf Ellaby WG Bill Spencer
Artie Atkinson CE Tom Gorman (c)
Hector Halsall CE Cec Fifield
Stanley Smith WG Bill Shankland
Jack Oster SO Eric Weissel
Jonty Parkin (c) SH Joe Busch
Arthur Thomas PR Herb Steinohrt
Nat Bentham HK Arthur Justice
William Burgess PR Bill Brogan
Albert Fildes SR George Treweek
Martin Hodgson SR Vic Armbruster
Fred Butters LF Jack Kingston

It was a freezing afternoon for the deciding test, which Australia dominated yet was still unable to put points on the board.[10] With only a few minutes remaining and the scores locked at nil-all in the third and deciding test, Australian halfback Joe "Chimpy" Busch collected the ball from a scrum win 30 metres out and scooted down the sideline. He crashed over the try-line in the corner with England's loose forward Fred Butters on his back making a last-ditch attempt to stop him. As the corner post went flying the crowd spilled onto the field in excitement. Referee Bob Robinson looked set to award Australia the try and the game (and with it the Ashes) when the touch-judge Albert Webster emerged through the crowd (which was overflowing and allowed on the pitch to avoid crowding) claiming Busch had taken out the corner post before grounding the ball. Even though Robinson believed it was a fair try he had no option other than to rule 'no try'. The referee was reported to have said to the Kangaroos "fair try Australia, but I am overruled", while England's captain Jonty Parkin shook Busch's hand and congratulated him before the touch-judge intervened. The match finished as a 0–0 draw, leaving the series tied at one match apiece.

For the remainder of his life (he died on 29 May 1999 at the age of 91), Busch insisted he scored the try, quoted as saying "I got it down all right…it was a fair try."[11] The corner where Busch scored the disallowed try in Swinton, was in the following decades still officially known as Busch's Corner.[12]

Saturday, 11 January
Salford   5 – 21   Australasia
The Willows, Salford
Attendance: 8,000

4th TestEdit

After much deliberation the controversial decision was made to play a fourth Test a week later. This was the first and only time that a fourth test has been played on any Kangaroo tour.[13]

Wednesday, 15 January 1930
England   3 – 0   Australia
Stanley Smith
[33] Tries:

Athletic Grounds, Rochdale
Attendance: 16,743
Referee: R. Robinson  
England Posit. Australia
Jim Sullivan (c) FB Frank McMillan
Stanley Smith WG Bill Shankland
Stan Brogden CE Cec Fifield
Artie Atkinson CE Tom Gorman (c)
Tom Blinkhorn WG William Spencer
Billo Rees SO Fred Laws
Bryn Evans SH Joe Busch
Arthur Thomas PR Herb Steinohrt
Nat Bentham HK Arthur Justice
Billy Williams PR Bill Brogan
Hector Crowther SR Vic Armbruster
Albert Fildes SR George Treweek
Harold Young LF Jack Kingston

In this match Cec Fifield broke his ankle and was unable to play the remainder of the tour. In an enthralling and especially brutal match, the deadlock was only broken by Stan Smith's solitary unconverted try so England won 3–0, to retain the Ashes.[14]



  1. ^ "Tom Gorman to captain Rugby Team for England". The Barrier Miner. 24 July 1929. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Tom Gorman Kangaroos captain". The Courier-Mail. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  3. ^ Murray G. Phillips (2000). From Sidelines to Centre Field: A History of Sports Coaching in Australia. Australia: University of New South Wales Press. p. 27. ISBN 0868404101.
  4. ^ Cunneen, Chris. "Hennessy, Arthur Stephen (1876–1959)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  5. ^ Scott, Edmond. "Sunderland, Harry (1889–1964)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  6. ^ a b "ANGLO-AUSTRALIAN RUGBY". The Singapore Free Press. 5 October 1929. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  7. ^ "LEAGUE TEST: Australians win". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 October 1929. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Les Fairclough". Players. Saints Heritage Society. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  9. ^ Goodman, Tom (15 June 1946). "League Tests nearly always grim Contests". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  10. ^ de la Rivière, Richard. "1929/30 Ashes Series". Thirteen. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  11. ^ "League's Grand Old Man Departs". The Daily Telegraph. 31 May 1999.
  12. ^ "Youth from bush jumped straight into Test league". The Daily Mirror. 11 May 1979.
  13. ^ "The History of Rugby League". Rugby League Information. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  14. ^ Tony Collins (2006). Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain: A Social and Cultural History. UK: Routledge. p. 116. ISBN 0203088352.