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1970 Rugby League World Cup Final

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4  3
5  7
Attendance  18,776
Date  8 November 1970
Stadium  Headingley Rugby Stadium
3  7
Referees  Fred Lindop
Broadcasters  BBC
Referee  Fred Lindop
1970 Rugby League World Cup Final
Champion  Australia national rugby league team
Location  Headingley Rugby Stadium, City of Leeds, United Kingdom
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The 1970 Rugby League World Cup Final was the conclusive game of the 1970 Rugby League World Cup tournament and was played between Great Britain and Australia on 8 November 1970 at the Headingley ground in Leeds, England.



The 1970 Rugby League World Cup was the fifth staging of the Rugby League World Cup since its inauguration in 1954, and the first since the 1968 tournament. The tournament was held in the England from 21 October, culminating in the final between Great Britain and Australia on 8 November.

Great Britain

Scores and results list Australia's points tally first.

Great Britain were undefeated going into the final.


Scores and results list Great Britain's points tally first.

Australia, France and New Zealand all finished with one win each. Australia advanced to the Final by virtue of a better for and against record.

Match details

Having retained the Ashes against Australia during their 1970 Australasian tour, Great Britain were favourites to win the final, which would become known as the 'Battle of Headingly' due to its brutality. However it went completely against expectations as Britain failed to play any decent football despite overwhelming possession. The Kangaroos led 5–4 at half-time with a try to Australian three-quarter, Father John Cootes. They went on to utilise their meagre chances to the full, running out 12–7 victors. The game itself was an extended punch-up. The only surprise was that it took 79 minutes before anyone was sent off. Two sacrificial lambs, Billy Smith of Australia and Sid Hynes of Britain, were sent off the field in the last minute for what had been going unpunished throughout the game.

Great Britain, having been undefeated in the World Cup, felt that there should not have been a need to play a final, especially as they had already defeated Australia 11-4 at Headingley in the second game of the tournament.

We beat them at Leeds in the group stages as well as beating France and New Zealand so we were confident but in the final we got our tactics wrong. We tried to physically knock them down but we should have played more football. John Atkinson had that altercation with Father John Cootes after the final whistle. Tactically we didn’t play to our best. Maybe there was some complacency due to the Ashes win and the group stage games.

(Note: Although Reilly recalls a post-match incident between Atkinson and Cootes, what actually happened was Australian fullback Eric Simms attempted to shake hands with Atkinson after the game, but was instead greeted with a headbutt by the frustrated Lions winger. This led to a wild post-match brawl between the teams that had to be broken up by referee Fred Lindop, his two touch judges, and the Leeds City Police.)


1970 Rugby League World Cup Final Wikipedia