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The 1932 Great Britain Lions tour was a tour by the Great Britain national rugby league team) of Australia and New Zealand which took place between May and August 1932. The tour involved a schedule of 26 games, 18 in Australia including a three-test series against Australia for the Ashes and a further 8 in New Zealand including a three-test series against New Zealand.

1932 Great Britain Lions tour
ManagerG.F. Hutchins and R.F. Anderton
Tour captain(s)Jim Sullivan
Summary
P W D L
Total
26 23 01 02
Test match
06 05 00 01
Opponent
P W D L
Australia
3 2 0 1
New Zealand
3 3 0 0
Tour chronology
Previous tour1928
Next tour1936

Captained by Welshman Jim Sullivan, the Lions returned home having won 23, lost 2 and drawn 1 of their games. They won the Ashes against Australia 2–1 and made a clean sweep against New Zealand winning all three test matches.

Despite being a British team - 6 of the squad were Welsh - the team were universally referred to by both the press at home and away, as England.

Contents

SquadEdit

A 26 man squad was selected for the tour with the names announced in March 1932.[1]

Schedule and resultsEdit

The team sailed from Southampton on 14 April 1932 on-board the SS Jervis Bay arriving in Melbourne on 19 May and travelling to Sydney by train on 20 May.[2][3]

Date Opponents Venue Score (GB first) Attendance Notes
28 May Metropolis Sydney Cricket Ground Won 28–5[4] 42,644 Metropolis was a representative side made up of players playing in the Sydney area.
1 June Western New South Wales Wade Park Won 50–9[5] 6,000 Western New South Wales was a representative team for teams playing in New South Wales Country Rugby League groups 10 and 14.
4 June New South Wales Sydney Cricket Ground Won 18–5[6] 30,104
6 June Australia Sydney Cricket Ground Won 8–6[7][8] 70,204 The attendance was a new world record for a rugby league test.[7]
8 June Far Northern Recreation ground, Lismore Won 44–8[9] 4,965 Far Northern was a representative side covering the northern area of New South Wales.
11 June Queensland Brisbane Cricket Ground Won 15–10[10] 13,034
15 June Brisbane Firsts Brisbane Cricket Ground Lost 15–18[11] 4,843 Brisbane Firsts was a representative team drawn from the first-grade clubs in the Brisbane area.
18 June Australia Brisbane Cricket Ground Lost 6–15[12][13] 26,574
20 June Wide Bay Gympie Won 56–17[14] 2,500 Wide Bay was a representative team drawn from clubs in the Wide Bay division of the Queensland Rugby League.
21 June Central Queensland Rockhampton Showground Won 63–21[15] 4,000 Central Queensland was a representative team drawn from clubs in the Central division of the Queensland Rugby League.
25 June Northern Queensland Townsville Won 20–2[16] 7,312 Northern Queensland was a representative team drawn from clubs in the Northern division of the Queensland Rugby League.
28 June Far North Queensland Parramatta Park, Cairns Won 53–8[17] 5,000 Far North Queensland was the representative team of the Cairns District Rugby League
2 July Ipswich Ipswich Won 19–2[18] 3,022 Ipswich was the representative team for the Southern region of the Queensland Rugby League.
6 July Toowoomba Toowoomba Draw 7–7[19] 10,861 Toowoomba was the representative side of the Toowoomba Rugby League.
9 July New South Wales Sydney Cricket Ground Won 22–5[20] 19,744
14 July Newcastle Newcastle Won 32–15[21] 6,563 Newcastle was the representative team of the Newcastle Rugby League. This game was interrupted by a timekeeper's error sounding the end of game 11 minutes early. The game was resumed and played to completion when the error was discovered.[21]
16 July Australia Sydney Cricket Ground Won 18–13[22][23] 50,053
20 July Riverina Wagga Showground, Wagga Wagga Won 18–6[24] 9,000 Riverina was the representative team for teams in Group 9 of the New South Wales Country Rugby League.
27 July North Auckland Kensington Park Whangarei Won 56–5[25] 3,000
30 July New Zealand Carlaw Park, Auckland Won 24–9[26][27] 25,000
3 August South Auckland Taupiri Won 64–11[28] 1,600
6 August Auckland Carlaw Park, Auckland Won 19–14[29] 16,000
10 August West Coast Victoria Park, Greymouth Won 32–8[30] 3,000 West Coast was the representative team of the West Coast Rugby League.
13 August New Zealand Monica Park, Christchurch Won 25–14[31] 7,000
17 August North Island Winter Show Grounds, Wellington Won 59–8[32] 3,000
20 August New Zealand Carlaw Park, Auckland Won 20–18[33][34] 12,000

Following the end of the third test against New Zealand, the team sailed for home the same day on-board the SS Tamaroa, having readied for the last test on the ship, arriving back in Southampton on 23 September 1932.[35][36]

During the Australian leg of the tour the team scored 105 tries and 84 goals (483 points) while conceding 32 tries and 38 goals (172 points), total attendances approaching 320,000 generated gate receipts of 27,885.[37] In the games in New Zealand the team scored 65 tries and 52 goals (299 points) conceding 17 tries and 18 goals (87 points).[38]

Ashes seriesEdit

First testEdit

6 June 1932
3:00PM AEDT
Australia   6 – 8   England
Tries:

Goals:
Eric Weissel (3)
Tries:
Alf Ellaby
Arthur Atkinson
Goals:
Jim Sullivan (1)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 70,204
Referee: William Neill
Australia Position England
Frank McMillan FB Jim Sullivan (c)
Cliff Pearce WG Stanley Smith
Eric Weissel CE Stan Brogden
Fred Laws CE Arthur Atkinson
Joe Wilson WG Alf Ellaby
Ernie Norman FE/SO Ernest Pollard
Hector Gee HB/SH Bryn Evans
Herb Steinohrt (c) PR Nat Silcock
Jack Little HK Leslie White
Mick Madsen PR Joe Thompson
Joe Pearce SR Bill Horton
Dan Dempsey SR Martin Hodgson
Wally Prigg LK/LF Jack Feetham

The first test was played at Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday 6 June 1932. The interest in the game was so large that the ground was full an hour before the kick-off and the police ordered the gates to be closed. Several thousand people watched from the stands in the adjacent agricultural ground and many more watched from any vantage point they could find.[39]

The referee was former Australian player turned match official William Neill. A ceremonial kick-off was made by retired player Dally Messenger. England scored first as Alf Ellaby ran a try in from the English 25 yard (20 metre) line, Jim Sullivan missed the conversion. Australia took the lead through two penalties both taken by Eric Weissel before England scored another try, this time scored by Arthur Atkinson. Sullivan was successful with the conversion giving England an 8–4 lead. Weissel scored another penalty before half time to make the score 8–6 in England's favour. The second half was scoreless although both sides had chances which weren't taken.[39]

The final attendance figure was announced as 70,204 a new record for any rugby league game until then.[40] It would remain the international attendance record for another 60 years.[citation needed]


Second testEdit

18 June 1932
3:00PM AEST
Australia   15 – 6   England
Tries:
Hector Gee (2)
Joe Wilson
Goals:
Eric Weissel (2)
Cliff Pearce (1)
Tries:
Ernest Pollard
Stanley Smith
Goals:
Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane
Attendance: 26,574
Referee: Joe Simpson
Australia Position England
Frank McMillan FB Jim Sullivan (c)
Cliff Pearce WG Stanley Smith
Ernie Norman CE Stan Brogden
Fred Laws CE Arthur Atkinson
Joe Wilson WG Alf Ellaby
Eric Weissel FE/SO Ernest Pollard
Hector Gee HB/SH Les Adams
Herb Steinohrt (c) PR Nat Silcock
Dan Dempsey HK Leslie White
Mick Madsen PR Joe Thompson
Joe Pearce SR Bill Horton
Les Heidke SR Martin Hodgson
Frank O'Connor LK/LF Jack Feetham

The second test was played in Brisbane on 18 June 1932, two weeks after the first test. 26,000 packed into the Brisbane Cricket Ground to witness what many consider to be one of the most violent games of rugby league ever played. Many subsequent writers have named the game the Battle of Brisbane[a][44][45]

Before the game started the Australian manager, Harry Sunderland, went into the English dressing room with the referee to lecture the English team on how the play-the-ball was to be interpreted during the game, an act which bewildered the English players.[46][47] As the game kicked off, Australia made an excellent start when Hector Gee scored a try in the first minute which Weissel converted to give Australia a 5–0 lead. At the first scrum the English prop, Joe Thompson, was knocked out and had to be carried from the pitch; as substitutions were not allowed at this date, teams had to play short until the injured players were fit to return. Within the first 10 minutes, Australia scored another try as Joe Wilson went over after a scrum near the English goal line. The conversion was missed so the score remained 8–0. England had a try disallowed and shortly before half-time Australia increased their lead to 10–0 with another Weissel penalty. During the half Thompson had returned to the pitch and the Australian centre Ernie Norman had left the pitch having been "sandwiched" by two of the English backs. The Australian winger, Cliff Pearce was knocked unconscious by the English centre, Arthur Atkinson but without any action being taken by the referee.[48][12][49]

The second half carried on in the same vein, England scored two tries through Stanley Smith and Ernest Pollard to bring the score to 10–6 but the injury list got longer. Gee sustained a severe cut to his upper lip which required stitches, Australian lock forward Frank O'Connor and English forwards, Bill Horton and Leslie White all suffered head injuries which required stitching. With 15 minutes left Australia were reduced to only 10 men on the pitch, Gee has been stretchered off with concussion, Norman was receiving treatment for another injury and Dan Dempsey had his arm broken. Worse was to come as Weissel broke his ankle, but refused to leave the pitch. Manager, Harry Sunderland pushed both Norman and Gee back onto the field even though there weren't fit enough to rejoin. England were applying pressure with the ball but somehow a loose ball was passed to Weissel who, even with a broken ankle, managed to run 75 yards (69 m) before Sullivan tackled him just three yards from the goal line. From the play-the-ball Gee took the ball and scored a try which Pearce converted to give Australia a 15–6 lead which was how the game ended.[49][12][50]

Even though the Australian win levelled the series at one-all, some Australian writers were highly critical of the way the game had been played by both sides. Journalist Harry Sunderland wrote in the Brisbane Courier "I have had the pleasure of seeing 21 of those tests,[b] and I regret to have to admit that if we have got to study the tactics to beat England in the kind of football indulged in on Saturday, I would sooner readjust my views about possessing an enthusiasm for sport of its type. In four weeks we will have the deciding game for the "Ashes" and I must candidly admit that I would rather have Australia fail to win the coveted cup than have a repetition of some of the things I saw with the naked eye on Saturday" although Sunderland did admit that the animosity shown during the match did not endure as he met many of the players from both teams drinking together in a nightclub that evening.[12] "The Cynic" writing in the Referee said "It became the most desperate and rugged game imaginable. Player were left strewn like dead men on the field, or were carted off to the touch-lines to recover."[51] M. Erskine Wyse in the Telegraph said "A few Mill's bombs and trench mortars were all that were needed in the closing stages to complete the impression of a battlefield."[52] Most were of the opinion that the referee was not up to the standard required to officiate at a match at this level.[53]

The English press while admitting it had been a hard game were far less critical of the way the game had been played and placed much more of the blame on the match officials. English prop Joe Thompson writing for the Yorkshire Evening Post said "There is no doubt that the second test of the 1932 tour will go down as the roughest and toughest match in the history of the game - a game full of incidents that are best forgotten.

Rugby League football in Australia is at a very low ebb at present, and if there is anything going to kill our game, it is a match of this description, where the game is forgotten, where referee and linesmen have no control over the game, with the players breaking the rules, and doing things which in England would mean their instant dismissal, but here not even a caution.

We have our troubles in England with the referee question, but I should like to say that the weakest of our referees at home is a Mussolini compared with the officials here. I have never seen such a lot of weak-kneed officials in all my career."[47]


Third testEdit

16 July 1932
3:00PM AEDT
Australia   13 – 18   England
Tries:
Frank O'Connor
Goals:
Eric Weissel (5)
Tries:
Stanley Smith (3)
Stan Brogden
Goals:
Sullivan (3)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 50,053
Referee: Lal Deane
Australia Position England
Frank McMillan FB Jim Sullivan (c)
Fred Neumann WG Stanley Smith
Cliff Pearce CE Stan Brogden
Fred Laws CE Arthur Atkinson
Joe Wilson WG Alf Ellaby
Eric Weissel FE/SO Gus Risman
Hector Gee HB/SH Bryn Evans
Herb Steinohrt (c) PR Billy Williams
Les Heidke HK Leslie White
Mick Madsen PR Joe Thompson
Joe Pearce SR Albert Fildes
Frank O'Connor SR Martin Hodgson
Bill Christie LK/LF Bill Horton

By contrast to the second test, the third was described as "a classic" and "one of the greatest and most exciting in these international contests".[54]

Having won the toss and choosing to kick off Australia raced to a 9–0 lead through two penalties taken by Weissel and a try by Frank O'Connor which Weissel converted. It wasn't until late in the first half that England scored when Stanley Smith touched down for a try. At half-time the score was 9–3. For the second half England moved Gus Risman from stand off where on his debut he had not had a good first half and played Stan Brogden at stand off instead. This change unsettled the Australians who in attempting to cover Brogden often left Evans, the scum half, free to play the ball to the three-quarter line. While Australia scored first in the half, another Weissel penalty, the greater speed of the English three-quarters eventually came to the fore. Brogden was the first to score a try to make the score 11–6 to Australia. Shortly afterwards Smith raced over and with Sullivan converting the try made the score 11–11. England then took the lead 13–11 as Sullivan kicked a drop goal; Weissel then re-levelled the scores with another penalty. With under 10 minutes left to play Smith completed his hat trick with a try in the corner, with Sullivan converting the try this made the score 18–13 to England and with no further scoring England took the series 2–1 as the game ended.[54][55]


New Zealand test seriesEdit

First testEdit

30 July 1932
3:00PM NZDT
New Zealand   9 – 24   England
Tries:
Bert Cooke
Goals:
Albert Laing (3)
Tries:
Arthur Atkinson (2)
Alf Ellaby (2)
Jack Feetham
Stanley Smith
Goals:
Jim Sullivan (3)
Carlaw Park, Auckland
Attendance: 25,000
Referee: A. Harlock
New Zealand Position England
Albert Laing FB Jim Sullivan (c)
Claude List WG Stanley Smith
Hec Brisbane (c) CE Gus Risman
Dick Smith CE Arthur Atkinson
Len Scott WG Alf Ellaby
Bert Cooke FE/SO Stan Brogden
Jonas Masters HB/SH Bryn Evans
Jim Calder PR Nat Silcock
Neville St George HK John Lowe
Bob Stephenson PR Joe Thompson
Lou Hutt SR Albert Fildes
Tom Timms SR Martin Hodgson
Mick O'Brien LK/LF Jack Feetham

The opening test of the three-match series was played at Carlaw Park, Auckland on 30 July 1932, three days after England's only warm-up match. The first half saw the lead change hands on five occasions. New Zealand took a 2–0 lead through an Albert Laing penalty, England's Alf Ellaby then scored an uncoverted try for England to lead 3–2. Another Laing penalty edged Zealand in front 4–3 before Arthur Atkinson raced past three defenders to put England back in front 6–4. Bert Cooke then dummied his way through to score a try which Laing converted to make the half-time score 9–6 to New Zealand.

The second half was a different story as England scored 18 unanswered points. Almost immediately from the kick-off, Risman intercepted a pass by Hutt and the move ended with Atkinson scoring his second try. Sullivan kicked the conversion to give England the lead 11–9. Two more tries by Jack Feetham and a second for Ellaby along with two goals from Sullivan made it 21–9 to England before Smith rounded the game off with a try to make the final score 24–9.[26][27]


Second testEdit

13 August 1932
3:00PM NZDT
New Zealand   14 – 24   England
Tries:
Claude List (2)
Goals:
Puti Watene (4)
Tries:
Arthur Atkinson (2)
Stan Brogden
Bill Horton
Stanley Smith
Goals:
Jim Sullivan (5)
Monica Park, Christchurch
Attendance: 7,000
Referee: A. Harlock
New Zealand Position England
Puti Watene FB Jim Sullivan (c)
Claude List WG Stanley Smith
Hec Brisbane (c) CE Gus Risman
Bert Cooke CE Arthur Atkinson
Ben Davidson WG Alf Ellaby
Wilf Hassan FE/SO Stan Brogden
Edwin Abbott HB/SH Bryn Evans
Jim Calder PR Nat Silcock
Gordon Campbell HK Leslie White
Bob Stephenson PR Joe Thompson
Lou Hutt SR Albert Fildes
Ray Lawless SR Martin Hodgson
Jim Amos LK/LF Bill Horton

The second test was played in Christchurch on 13 August 1932 and was reported in the press as disappointing "the game did not reach the high standard of skill expected from the teams" was the opinion of one English reporter and "At no stage was the game very exciting" was the summary of the New Zealand Press Association reporter.[56][57]

As in the first test, New Zealand took the lead. The first try was scored by Claude List but England equalised with a try by Brogden and with Sullivan's successful conversion took a 5–3 lead. The scores were levelled with a Puti Watene penalty but a converted try by Atkinson gave England a lead to 10–5 before a second List try and two goals by Watene gave New Zealand a half-time lead 12–10.

In the second half, Watene kicked another penalty but that was New Zealand's last score as tries by Smith, Horton and a second for Atkinson, all of which Sullivan converted resulted in an England victory and a 2–0 lead in the series.[56][57]


Third testEdit

20 August 1932
3:00PM NZDT
New Zealand   18 – 20   England
Tries:
Hec Brisbane (2)
Edwin Abbott
Bert Cooke
Goals:
Puti Watene (3)
Tries:
Barney Hudson
Albert Fildes
Stanley Smith
Goals:
Sullivan (4)
Carlaw Park, Auckland
Attendance: 6,500
Referee: A. Harlock
New Zealand Position England
Puti Watene FB Jim Sullivan (c)
Claude List WG Stanley Smith
Hec Brisbane (c) CE Gus Risman
Bert Cooke CE Arthur Atkinson
Ben Davidson WG Alf Ellaby
Wilf Hassan FE/SO Stan Brogden
Edwin Abbott HB/SH Bryn Evans
Jim Calder PR Nat Silcock
Gordon Campbell HK Leslie White
Bob Stephenson PR Joe Thompson
Lou Hutt SR Albert Fildes
Ray Lawless SR Martin Hodgson
Jim Amos LK/LF Bill Horton

The closest game of the series was played on 20 August in Auckland. New Zealand again scored first opening up a 5–0 lead with a Puti Watene penalty and a try by Hec Brisbane before England struck back with a try by Barney Hudson with Sullivan converting. Both teams scored further tries, Brisbane's second for New Zealand and Albert Fildes for England to leave the score tied at 8–8 at half-time.

Sullivan kicked two goals early in the second half to put England in front before two tries from Bert Cooke and Edwin Abbott, one of which Watene converted put New Zealand 18–12 in front with only minutes to play. England struck back through Stanley Smith who scored a try and with Sullivan's conversion closed the score to 18–17. In the last minute of the game Hudson scored his second try of the game to give England victory.[58][59]


NotesEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Several other games also called the Battle of Brisbane include the second test of the 1958 series,[41] the second test of the 1966 series, the opening test of the 1970 series,[42] and the game between England and Wales during the 1975 Rugby League World Cup.[43]
  2. ^ This game was the 29th meeting between England and Australia

ReferencesEdit

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