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1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup

The 1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup was the tenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup, and continued to use the three-year format, stretching across the years 1989 to 1992. As with the 1985–1988 World Cup, teams played each other on a home-and-away basis. These matches were fitted into the normal international programme of three-match test series between the nations, with a pre-designated match from each series counting as the World Cup fixture.

1989–1992 (1989–1992) Rugby League World Cup  ()
Number of teams5
Winner Australia (7th title)

Matches played21
Attendance300,059 (14,289 per match)
Points scored834 (39.71 per match)
Top scorerAustralia Mal Meninga (70)
Top try scorerAustralia Mal Meninga (7)

The matches went strictly to form, with Australia undefeated and certain to claim a world cup final berth as early as 1991. France and Papua New Guinea were uncompetitive, leading to a straight fight between New Zealand and Great Britain for the right to meet the Kangaroos in the final. In the event the Lions were able to just edge out the Kiwis on points difference.

As they had done in 1988, Australia had won the right to host the World Cup Final. However, with the potential for a much larger attendance, the Australian Rugby League agreed to allow Great Britain to host the game at the 82,000 capacity Wembley Stadium in London. The final was a surprisingly close affair, with Great Britain leading with only 12 minutes to go. The game's only try was then scored by centre Steve Renouf in his international debut for the Kangaroos and Australia were able to claim their fourth consecutive World Cup title before a world record international rugby league attendance of 73,631.[1]


  Brisbane   Leeds   Auckland   Wigan
Lang Park Elland Road Mount Smart Stadium Central Park
Capacity: 32,500 Capacity: 32,500 Capacity: 30,000 Capacity: 30,000
  Port Moresby   Hull   Christchurch   Perpignan
Lloyd Robson Oval The Boulevard Addington Showgrounds Stade Gilbert Brutus
Capacity: 17,000 Capacity: 16,000 Capacity: 15,000 Capacity: 13,000
  Parkes   Goroka   Townsville   Carcassonne
Pioneer Oval Danny Leahy Oval Townsville Sports Reserve Stade Albert Domec
Capacity: 12,000 Capacity: 12,000 Capacity: 12,000 Capacity: 10,000


The World Cup Final was played at Wembley Stadium in London.

Wembley Stadium
Capacity: 82,000


Group stageEdit

Key to colours in group tables
Advances to the Final
Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Difference Points
  Australia 8 8 0 0 236 68 +168 16
  Great Britain 8 5 0 3 215 79 +136 10
  New Zealand 8 5 0 3 203 120 +83 10
  France 8 2 0 6 80 247 −167 4
  Papua New Guinea 8 0 0 8 84 304 −220 0


23 July 1989
New Zealand   14 – 22   Australia
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Attendance: 15,000

The first match of the 1989-1992 World Cup was also the 3rd test of the 1989 Trans-Tasman Test series which was won 3–0 by Australia

11 November 1989
Great Britain   10 – 6   New Zealand
Central Park, Wigan
Attendance: 20,346
3 December 1989
France   0 – 34   New Zealand
Stade d'Albert Domec, Carcassonne
Attendance: 4,208


2 June 1990
Papua New Guinea   8 – 40   Great Britain
Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby
Attendance: 7,837
27 June 1990
Australia   34 – 2   France
Pioneer Oval, Parkes, New South Wales
Attendance: 12,384
15 July 1990
New Zealand   21 – 18   Great Britain
Addington Showground, Christchurch
Attendance: 3,133
11 August 1990
Papua New Guinea   10 – 18   New Zealand
Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby
Attendance: 7,837
24 November 1990
Great Britain   0 – 14   Australia
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 32,500

This match was also the 3rd and deciding test of the 1990 Ashes series.

9 December 1990
France   10 – 34   Australia
Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Attendance: 3,428


27 January 1991
France   10 – 45   Great Britain
Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Attendance: 3,965
23 June 1991
New Zealand   32 – 10   France
Addington Showground, Christchurch
Attendance: 2,000
7 July 1991
Papua New Guinea   18 – 20   France
Danny Leahy Oval, Goroka
Attendance: 11,485
31 July 1991
Australia   40 – 12   New Zealand
Lang Park, Brisbane
Attendance: 29,139

This match was also the 3rd and deciding test of the 1991 Trans-Tasman series.

13 October 1991
Papua New Guinea   6–40   Australia
Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby
Attendance: 14,500

Australian winger Willie Carne crossed for a hat trick of tries in Port Moresby.

9 November 1991
Great Britain   56 – 4   Papua New Guinea
Central Park, Wigan
Attendance: 4,193
24 November 1991
France   28 – 14   Papua New Guinea
Stade d'Albert Domec, Carcassonne
Attendance: 1,440


7 March 1992
Great Britain   36 – 0   France
The Boulevard, Kingston-upon-Hull
Attendance: 5,250
3 July 1992
Australia   16 – 10   Great Britain
Meninga (4)
Eastwood (3)
Lang Park, Brisbane
Attendance: 32,313
Man of the Match: Paul Sironen (Australia)

In addition to being an allocated World Cup match, this was the third, deciding test of the 1992 Ashes series. This six-point margin of defeat meant that New Zealand would need to beat Papua New Guinea by 109 points in the following match to prevent a Great Britain-Australia World Cup Final in October.[2]

5 July 1992
New Zealand   66 – 10   Papua New Guinea
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Attendance: 3,000
15 July 1992
Australia   36 – 14   Papua New Guinea
Townsville Sports Reserve, Queensland
Attendance: 12,470


24 October 1992
2:30PM (GMT)
Great Britain   6 – 10   Australia

Deryck Fox (3/4)
Report Tries:
Steve Renouf
Mal Meninga (3/4)
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 73,631[3]
Referee: Dennis Hale  
Man of the Match: Steve Walters  
Great Britain
FB 1   Joe Lydon
RW 2   Alan Hunte
RC 3   Gary Connolly
LC 4   Garry Schofield (c)
LW 5   Martin Offiah
SO 6   Shaun Edwards
SH 7   Deryck Fox
PR 8   Kevin Ward
HK 9   Martin Dermott
PR 10   Andy Platt
SR 11   Denis Betts
SR 12   Phil Clarke
LK 13   Ellery Hanley
IC 14   John Devereux
IC 15   Alan Tait
IC 16   Kelvin Skerrett
IC 17   Richard Eyres
  Mal Reilly
FB 1   Tim Brasher
RW 2   Willie Carne
RC 3   Steve Renouf
LC 4   Mal Meninga (c)
LW 5   Michael Hancock
FE 6   Brad Fittler
HB 7   Allan Langer
PR 8   Glenn Lazarus
HK 9   Steve Walters
PR 10   Mark Sargent
SR 11   Paul Sironen
SR 12   Bob Lindner
LF 13   Bradley Clyde
IC 14   David Gillespie
IC 15   Kevin Walters
IC 16   John Cartwright
IC 17   Chris Johns
  Bob Fulton

This match set a new world record attendance for a rugby league international of 73,631, beating the previous record of 70,204 set at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the 1932 Ashes series.[4] As they had done in 1988, Australia won the right to host the World Cup Final. However, in the interests of rugby league, and the potential for a much larger attendance since at the time Lang Park in Brisbane could only hold 33,000, and the Sydney Football Stadium could only seat 42,000, the ARL agreed to Great Britain hosting the final at the 82,000 capacity Wembley.

Unlike 1988 when Australia had agreed to let New Zealand host the Final at Eden Park in Auckland due to dwindling international attendances in Australia, the international game had become popular again over the next four years (mainly due to much improved performances by Great Britain and New Zealand) and there was a good chance of sell-out crowd in either Brisbane or Sydney for the game. However, the potential for an attendance at Wembley that would be almost or more than double the size that could be seen in Australia, and the potential exposure from playing the game at one of the world's most iconic stadiums, could not be ignored.

Both coaches picked experienced teams, with only Australian's Tim Brasher (fullback) and Steve Renouf (centre) making their international debut in the game. With incumbent fullback Andrew Ettingshausen unavailable through injury, Australian coach Bob Fulton preferred utility outside back Brasher over Newcastle Knights fullback Brad Godden due to Brasher's previous big game experience having played in Balmain's 1989 Grand Final loss as well as making his State of Origin debut earlier in the year. Fulton also chose seven members from the Brisbane Broncos 1992 Winfield Cup premiership winning team including exciting centre Renouf. Lions coach Mal Reilly chose to retain Garry Schofield as captain despite the presence of Ellery Hanley in the team. He also went with pace on the wings with Martin Offiah and St. Helens flyer Alan Hunte.

The hard-fought final was a one-try affair, with Great Britain leading 6–4 with only 12 minutes remaining.[5] The only try of the match was then set up by Australian replacement back Kevin Walters, who, with a clever cut-out pass, put his Broncos teammate Steve Renouf into a gap not covered by replacement Lions centre John Devereux. Renouf, in his debut test for Australia, then raced 20 metres to score in the corner.[6] Otherwise, the two teams' kickers (Mal Meninga and Deryck Fox) were called upon to score most of the points, including Meninga's pressure sideline conversion of Renouf's try. The rain started pouring in the second half and Australia was able to hold Great Britain out and maintain their lead until the final siren.

Australia's triumph saw them win their fourth World Cup in a row after winning the previous cups in 1975, 1977 and 1988. It also ended a mini-hoodoo for the Kangaroos at London's Wembley Stadium. Australia had previously left the arena 21–12 losers in 1973, and the 1990 Kangaroos were outplayed by Great Britain 19–12, but when it mattered most this time around Australia proved themselves as worthy World Cup champions.

The match was telecast live late at night throughout Australia on the Nine Network, with commentary provided by Ray Warren, Peter Sterling and Paul Vautin, with sideline comments from Chris Bombolas. The game broke Australia's midnight-to-dawn television ratings record which was set a year earlier by the rugby union's 1991 Rugby World Cup Final.[7]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Meninga breaks Britain's resistance (
  3. ^ 1992 Rugby League World Cup Final
  4. ^ Wilson, Andy (4 November 2011). "Wembley Rugby League internationals – in pictures". Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  5. ^ "1989 – 1992: AUSTRALIA". Rugby League International Federation. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  6. ^ Roberts, Michael (2008). Great Australian Sporting Moments. Australia: The Miegunyah Press. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-522-85547-0. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  7. ^ Oliver, Robin (27 October 1992). "'Roos give 9 early-hours record". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Digital. p. 6. Retrieved 7 October 2009.

External linksEdit