Girish Mahajan

1995 Rugby League World Cup Final

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8  16
4  8
6  16
4  4
10  6
Date  28 October 1995
1995 Rugby League World Cup Final


The 1995 Rugby League World Cup final was the conclusive game of the 1995 Centenary World Cup tournament and was played between England and Australia on 28 October 1995 at the Wembley Stadium in London, England. Australia won the final by 16 points to 8 in front of 66,540 fans. Australia, the defending champions, won the Rugby League World Cup for the 8th time.

Contents

Background

1995 was the year of the Super League war, with the new Super League causing a split in Australia. As a result, the Australian Rugby League did not select any player who had signed with Super League (though they did not stand in the way of any SL aligned country from selecting players who were playing in Australia). As 100% of Australia's squad was sourced from Australian Rugby League-aligned players, several test players from the successful 1994 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France were not selected for the World Cup, though a number of the team had played in the 3-0 Trans-Tasman Test series win over New Zealand earlier in the year.

After being overlooked for representative games during the year, Super League aligned Canberra Raiders players Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Steve Walters, Bradley Clyde, Brett Mullins and David Furner, took the ARL to court during 1995 in a bid to be able to play in the World Cup. The courts found in their favour and ordered the ARL to consider all players for selection regardless of who they were aligned to. However, as one unnamed ARL official was quoted as saying, the ARL were only forced to consider Super League players, not select them. Just how many, if any, Super League players were actually considered for selection remains unknown and speculation remains that behind closed doors no Super League player was actually considered for selection.

Without the Super League players, many thought that the Kangaroos would be a second-string side despite their series whitewash over the SL aligned New Zealand earlier in the year.

England

England, coached by Phil Larder and captained by Wigan's Dennis Betts, had surprised in the opening game of the tournament when they defeated Australia 20–16 at Wembley. England won all three of their group matches.

England defeated Wales 25-10 in the Semi-final at Old Trafford to advance to the Final.

Australia

The Bob Fulton coached, Brad Fittler captained Australians began their World Cup defense with shock 20–16 loss to England at Wembley in the opening game of the World Cup. After this the Kangaroos remained undefeated including a then world record 86–6 win over rugby league minnows South Africa.

Australia defeated New Zealand 30-20 in the Semi-final at the McAlpine Stadium in Huddersfield. The game had gone into extra-time after the score was locked at 20-all at the end of the regulation 80 minutes.

1st half

England won the coin toss and Australia's Andrew Johns kicked off the match. In England's first set with the ball Australia were penalised for their skipper Brad Fittler's high tackle on Andrew Farrell. From the resulting good field position England were able to force a line drop-out and get another set of six in Australia's half of the field. At the end of the set, Radlinski put up a high kick, which Australia's fullback Tim Brasher failed to secure and Australia were penalised for regathering the ball when off-side. Bobbie Goulding kicked the penalty goal from fifteen metres out, giving his side a 2 – 0 lead. From Australia's resulting kick-off, the English players couldn't secure the ball and it was regathered by the Kangaroos deep in the opposition half. On the last tackle of the ensuing set, Johns at first receiver put a chip kick into the left-hand corner of England's in-goal area where winger Rod Wishart dived in and got a hand on it, giving Australia the first try of the match in the seventh minute. Johns then converted the try from the touch-line and the Kangaroos were leading 2 – 6. A few minutes later England were penalised around the centre of the field and Johns attempted the kick at goal but missed. With the game now swinging from end to end, Johns conceded a penalty close to the goal posts and Goulding's kick bounced off the uprights but went in, so England were trailing 4 – 6 by the eighteenth minute. A few minutes later England conceded a penalty in front of their goal posts and Johns kicked Australia to a 4 – 8 lead. Shortly after that England winger Martin Offiah made a break down along the left sideline and was contentiously ruled to have been taken over the sideline by a desperate Tim Brasher tackle as he threw the ball back into the field for Paul Newlove to toe ahead and dive on, though television replays suggested that Offiah had managed to release the ball before he went into touch. After a high shot from Andy Farrell on Mark Carroll, Johns kicked another penalty giving Australia a 4 – 10 at the thirty-minute mark. Just before the half-time break England conceded another penalty in the ruck but Johns' kick missed so the score remained unchanged at the break.

2nd half

After making their way into good attacking field position, England played the ball ten metres out from Australia's goal-line where centre Paul Newlove at dummy-half ran the ball at the defence forced his way through to score in the left corner. The sideline conversion attempt by Goulding missed so England trailed 8 – 10 after five minutes of the second half. Around the ten-minute mark the game was interrupted by a topless female streaker. The play continued swinging from one end of the field to the other, with neither team able to capitalise on their scoring opportunities for the next twenty minutes. Australian interchange player Jason Smith was blood binned and had to return to the bench. A few minutes later the Kangaroos had made their way deep into England's half when, on the last tackle, the ball was moved through the hands and eventually flicked passed back from Johns as he was being tackled to the feet of Brasher who kicked it ahead to the try-line. Both fullbacks then scrambled to get to the ball and the referee ruled that Brasher had grounded it, awarding Australia a try. Johns converted the try so Australia lead 8 – 16 with just over ten minutes remaining. England forward Karl Harrison then had to come off the field with an injured arm. A few minutes from full-time Australian forward Mark Carroll was sent to the sin-bin for an infringement in the ruck. The remainder of the match extended into additional injury time but was played with no further points so Australia retained the World Cup with an 8 – 16 victory and their fifth consecutive world title.

21-year-old Andrew Johns was named man-of-the-match. Kangaroos coach Bob Fulton had named the young half as the team hooker, and he did indeed pack into the scrums. However Johns played at halfback in general play with Geoff Toovey having the dummy-half duties, necessary because Toovey had actually injured his neck during the tournament and simply could not pack into the front row in the scrums.

Following the match Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex presented Kangaroos captain Brad Fittler with the Cup and each of the players with medals. During the 1990 Kangaroo Tour, an 18-year-old Fittler had reportedly broken protocol when he had said "G'day dude" to Prince Edward's father, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh when the team had met the Duke as part of the tour. History allegedly repeated itself as Fittler was heard to say "Thanks dude" to Prince Edward when receiving the World Cup on the Wembley balcony.

References

1995 Rugby League World Cup Final Wikipedia


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