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The 1972 Rugby League World Cup Final was the conclusive game of the 1972 Rugby League World Cup tournament and was played between Great Britain and Australia on 11 November 1972 at the Stade de Gerland ground in Lyon, France.

1972 (1972) Rugby League World Cup Final  ()
Stade de Gerland P1190154.jpg
12 Total
GBR Great Britain colours.svg 55 10
AUS Australian colours.svg 55 10
Date11 November 1972
StadiumStade de Gerland
LocationLyon, France
RefereesGeorges Jameau France
Broadcast partners
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The 1972 Rugby League World Cup was the sixth staging of the Rugby League World Cup since its inauguration in 1954, and the first since the 1970 tournament. The tournament was held in the France from 28 October, culminating in the final between Great Britain and Australia on 11 November.

Great BritainEdit

Scores and results list Australia's points tally first.
Opposing Team For Against Date Venue Attendance Stage
  Australia 27 21 29 October Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan 6,300 Group Stage
  France 13 4 1 November Stade Lesdiguières, Grenoble 13,231 Group Stage
  New Zealand 53 19 4 November Stade du Hameau, Pau 7,500 Group Stage

Great Britain were undefeated going into the final.


Scores and results list Great Britain's points tally first.
Opposing Team For Against Date Venue Attendance Stage
  Great Britain 21 27 29 October Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan 6,300 Group Stage
  New Zealand 9 5 1 November Parc des Princes, Paris 8,000 Group Stage
  France 5 19 5 November Stadium Municipal, Toulouse 10,332 Group Stage

Match detailsEdit

11 November 1972
Great Britain   10 – 10
Clive Sullivan
Mike Stephenson
Terry Clawson (2)
[1] Tries:
John O'Neill
Arthur Beetson
Ray Branighan (2)
Stade de Gerland, Lyon
Attendance: 4,231
Referee: Georges Jameau  
Great Britain
FB 1   Paul Charlton
RW 2   Clive Sullivan (c)
RC 3   Chris Hesketh
LC 4   John Walsh
LW 5   John Atkinson
SO 6   John Holmes
SH 7   Steve Nash
PR 8   Terry Clawson
HK 9   Mike Stephenson
PR 10   David Jeanes
SR 11   Phil Lowe
SR 12   Brian Lockwood
LF 13   George Nicholls
IC 14   Bob Irving
IC 15
  Jim Challinor
FB 1   Graeme Langlands (c)
RW 2   John Grant
RC 3   Mark Harris
LC 4   Geoff Starling
LW 5   Ray Branighan
FE 6   Bob Fulton
HB 7   Dennis Ward
PR 8   John O'Neill
HK 9   Elwyn Walters
PR 10   Bob O'Reilly
SR 11   Arthur Beetson
SR 12   Gary Stevens
LK 13   Gary Sullivan
IC 14   Fred Jones
IC 15
  Harry Bath

The French public seemed uninterested in a final that did not involve the home team, as less than 4,500 spectators turned up. Indeed, out of the seven games in the World Cup tournament, including the final, the only games that drew over 10,000 fans were two of the three games in which the French team played. The Final actually drew the lowest attendance of the tournament.[2]

The game will always be remembered by the British for their captain Clive Sullivan's wonderful long distance try[3][4] and by the Australians for perhaps "the greatest try never scored",[5] later shown on TV to be legitimately scored by Australian fullback Graeme Langlands who chased and dived to catch Dennis Ward's bomb in mid-air, but it disallowed by French referee Georges Jameau who believed the Australian captain to be offside.[6] Mike Stephenson scored the 73rd-minute try that helped Great Britain level the scores and secure the World Cup.[7]

Had Aussie winger Ray Branighan succeeded with a 79th-minute penalty or Bob Fulton landed one of three drop goal attempts in the last five minutes, the cup could easily have gone to Australia. But for the first time in the competition's history the scores were level at full-time. An additional twenty minutes extra time was played, but no further score resulted, and Great Britain were awarded the cup by virtue of a better position in the table.[8]


  1. ^ Report
  2. ^ 1972 RLWC at Rugby League Project
  3. ^ Wright, J (23 August 2007). "Rugby League's Greatest Ever Full-back". Times & Star. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  4. ^ Paddy McAteer (22 December 2010) "Whole World in their Hands" Archived October 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine North West Evening Mail
  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.
  6. ^ Chesterton, Ray (24 October 2008). "Langlands denied greatest try ever". The Daily Telegraph. Australia: News Limited. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  7. ^ Hughes, Ed (31 October 2004). "Caught in Time: Great Britain prepare for 1972 rugby league World Cup final". The Sunday Times. UK: Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  8. ^ 1972 World Cup Final highlights