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The 1968 Rugby League World Cup tournament was the fourth staging of the Rugby League World Cup and was held in Australia and New Zealand during May and June in 1968. Contested by the men's national rugby league football teams of the two host countries plus Great Britain and France, for the first time a final to determine the World Cup was specifically pre-arranged (previous finals having only been used when teams finished level on points). Financially it was a profitable venture for the competing nations.[citation needed]

1968 (1968) World Cup  ()
Number of teams4
Host countries Australia
 New Zealand
Winner Australia (2nd title)

Matches played7
Attendance220,683 (31,526 per match)
Points scored227 (32.43 per match)
Top scorerAustralia Eric Simms (56)
Top try scorersAustralia Lionel Williamson (4)
Australia Ron Coote (4)
United Kingdom Clive Sullivan (4)
 < 1960

The 1968 World Cup was the first to be played under limited tackles rules, the number then being four tackles. The round 1 match between Great Britain and Australia attracted an attendance of 62,256, the highest for a World Cup match until 1992.[1] The final was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground; a crowd of 54,290 watched Australia defeat France.[1] The stars of the Australian team in the tournament were skipper Johnny Raper, second-rower Ron Coote, who scored spectacular tries in each and every game, and the dead-shot kicker Eric Simms, who harvested a record 25 goals (50 points).



  Sydney   Brisbane   Auckland
Sydney Cricket Ground Lang Park Carlaw Park
Capacity: 70,000 Capacity: 40,000 Capacity: 20,000


25 May
New Zealand   10 – 15   France
Carlaw Park, Auckland
Attendance: 18,000
Referee: Col Pearce (AUS)

France: J Cros; D Pellerin, M Molinier, J Lecompte, A Ferren; Jean Capdouze, R Garrigues; G Ailleres (c), Y Begou, C Sabatie, Francis de Nadai, Henri Marracq, J Clar.
New Zealand: R Tait; R Mincham, H Sinel, P Schultz, E Wiggs; J Bond (c), J Clarke; O Danielson, Colin O'Neil, George Smith, B Lee, J Dixon, A Kriletich; Henry Tatana.

After only twelve minutes, New Zealand second-rower Brian Lee was sent off in a match in which the classy French stand-off Jean Capdouze bagged 13 points. The game was also notable for the first World Cup substitution when Adolphe Alesina replaced second-rower Francis De Nadai.

25 May
Australia   25 – 10   Great Britain
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 62,256[1]
Referee: John Percival  

A record World Cup crowd of 62,256 saw New Zealand referee John Percival mercilessly penalising Great Britain, with debutant full-back Eric Simms booting a record eight goals in Australia's win.[2]

1 June
Australia   31 – 12   New Zealand
Lang Park, Brisbane
Attendance: 23,608

Simms repeated the feat of kicking eight goals as he had in the previous match as Australia eventually killed off New Zealand at Brisbane after trailing for much of the game.

2 June
France   7 – 2   Great Britain
Carlaw Park, Auckland
Attendance: 15,760

France surprised Britain in a rain-ruined match at Auckland with an uncharacteristically stubborn defensive display and winger Jean Ledru, scoring the winning try to qualify for a World Cup Final showdown against Australia.

8 June
Australia   37 – 4   France
Lang Park, Brisbane
Attendance: 32,664

In the final preliminary game in Brisbane, Australia's scrum-half back Billy Smith dropped three goals. French winger Jean Ledru and Australia's prop Artie Beetson were both sent off.

8 June
Great Britain   38 – 14   New Zealand
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 14,105

Final standingsEdit

Australia and France, having finished in first and second places respectively, qualified for the World Cup final.

Team Played Won Drew Lost  For  Against Difference Points
  Australia 3 3 0 0 93 26 +67 6
  France 3 2 0 1 26 49 −23 4
  Great Britain 3 1 0 2 50 46 +4 2
  New Zealand 3 0 0 3 36 84 −48 0


The final had been billed a 'debacle' following Great Britain's inexplicable loss to France in Auckland, resulting in France contesting the final against Australia despite having been beaten by Australia seven tries to none two days prior.[3] Nonetheless, it attracted a record crowd of 54,290 for a World Cup Final match.

10 June 1968
Australia   20 – 2   France
Lionel Williamson (2)
Ron Coote
Johnny Greaves
Eric Simms (4)
[4] Try:


Field Goals:
Jean Capdouze (1)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 54,290
Referee: John Percival  
Man of the Match: John Wittenberg  
FB 1   Eric Simms
LW 2   Johnny Rhodes
RC 3   Graeme Langlands
LC 4   Johnny Greaves
RW 5   Lionel Williamson
FE 6   Bob Fulton
HB 7   Billy Smith
LK 8   Johnny Raper (c)
SR 9   Ron Coote
SR 10   Dick Thornett
PR 11   Arthur Beetson
HK 12   Fred Jones
PR 13   John Wittenberg
IC 14
IC 15   Elton Rasmussen
  Harry Bath
FB 1   Jean Claude Cros
RW 2   Daniel Pélerin
RC 3   Jacques Gruppi
LC 4   Jean Pierre Lecompte
LW 19   Jean Ledru
FE 6   Jean Capdouze
HB 7   Roger Garrigues
PR 8   Christian Sabatie
HK 9   Yves Begou
PR 10   George Ailleres (c)
SR 11   Francis de Nadai
SR 12   Henri Marracq
LF 13   Jean Pierre Clar
IC 14
IC 16   Jacques Gruppi
  Jean-Pierre Lacoste

The undefeated Australians went into the tournament decider as favourites.[5] However France offered stern resistance and held the Australians to 0–7 at half-time and with quarter of an hour were only 0–12 down before losing 2–20. It was Australia's second World Cup title.



  1. ^ a b c McCann, 2006: 83
  2. ^ 1968 RLWC Australia vs Great Britain
  3. ^ "Rugby league debacle". The Age. 10 June 1968. p. 21. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  4. ^ Report
  5. ^ Kdouh, Fatima (28 November 2013). "We take a look back at the greatest Rugby League World Cup finals of all time". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2013.


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