1920 Great Britain Lions tour

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The 1920 Great Britain Lions tour was the third British national rugby league team or 'Lions' tour of Australasia, where it was winter and matches were played against the Australian and New Zealand national sides, as well as several local teams. In Australia, the three-Test match series was won by the hosts; in New Zealand another three-Test series was played and won by the visitors. The tour was a success and brought in a handsome profit.[1]

Touring squad[edit]

At the 1919–20 Northern Rugby Football Union season's conclusion, the following Great Britain squad was assembled by the NRFU to represent it on the tour of Australasia. Mr S Foster and Mr J Wilson were the team managers, although it was a Great Britain tour, the team played as 'England' during the games.

Australia[edit]

The first leg of the tour was Australia, where the game of rugby league football was in its twelfth year since splitting away from rugby union in 1908, the tour included places such as Orange, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and Tamworth as well as the standard main venues of Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney and Ipswich.[2]

Test venues[edit]

The three Ashes series tests took place at the following venues.

Brisbane Sydney Sydney
Brisbane Exhibition Ground Sydney Cricket Ground Royal Agricultural Showground
Capacity: 35,000 Capacity: 60,000 Capacity: 50,000
Queensland State Archives 5506 Aerial view of the grand parade of livestock at the Royal National Show Brisbane c 1958.png Sydney Showground and Cricket Ground 1936 (14019783946).jpg Sydney Showground, Grand Parade Easter 1936 (14039813382).jpg

The opening match of the tour on 5 June took place between rounds 5 and 6 of the fifteen-round 1920 NSWRFL season, and saw a Metropolis (Sydney) team host the tourists at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Saturday, 5 June
Metropolis City colours.svg 20 – 27 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
Harold Horder (3), George McGowan

Goals:
Harold Horder (3)
Charles Fraser (1)
[1] Tries:
Johnny Rogers (2), Squire Stockwell (2), Arthur 'Chick' Johnson
Goals:
Ben Gronow (6)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 65,000
Referee/s: Tom McMahon, Sr.

In front of an overflow crowd of 65,000 the visitors ran out 27-20 winners.


Wednesday, 9 June
Orange Ipswich Colours.svg 8 – 50 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
T. Dalton (2)

Goals:
C. Plowman (1)
[2] Tries:
Jim Bacon (4), Danny Hurcombe (2), William Reid, Joe Bowers, Joe Doyle, Herman Hilton, Cyril Stacey
Goals:
Alf Wood (7)
Wade Park, Orange
Attendance: 3,000
Referee/s: E. Allen

As the preliminary match to the New South Wales versus Britain game on 12 June, Sydney University's first intervarsity match against Queensland University under rugby league rules was played before a crowd of 60,000.[3] Sydney won 26-14.

Saturday, 12 June
New South Wales New South Wales colours.svg 42 – 6 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
Frank Burge (2), Charles Fraser, Herb Gilbert, Reg Latta, George McGowan, Sandy Pearce, Jack 'Junker' Robinson
Goals:
Frank Burge (9)
[3] Tries:

Goals:
Ben Gronow (3)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 60,000
Referee/s: Tom Dickenson

Albert Johnston captained New South Wales in two matches against the visiting Lions.[4]


Wednesday, 16 June
New South Wales New South Wales colours.svg 10 – 18 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
Viv Farnsworth, Jack 'Junker' Robinson
Goals:
Charles Fraser (1)
Ray Norman (1)
[4] Tries:
Herman Hilton, William Reid
Goals:
Ben Gronow (6)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 55,000
Referee/s: Tom McMahon, Sr.

Saturday, 19 June
Queensland Queensland colours.svg 15 – 25 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
Neville Broadfoot, Walter Paten, Bill Richards
Goals:
Henry Fewin (1)
Walter Paten (1)
Bill Richards (1)
[5] Tries:
Jim Bacon (4), Squire Stockwell
Goals:
Ben Gronow (5)
Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Brisbane
Attendance: 20,000
Referee/s: Laurie Kearney

On Saturday, 19 June, the tourists played a match against Queensland before a crowd of around 20,000 at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground,[5] the Queensland side featured Mick Bennett, Neville Broadfoot, Jeff Daly, Harry Fewin, Thomas Johnson, Jack Maguire, Patrick Moran, Claude O’Donnell, Walter Paten, Norm Potter, Bill Richards, Stan Ryan, E. Sabine, Colin Thompson, and J. Thompson,[6] the British team was F G Thomas, J A Bacon, J Doyle, H Wagstaff, F Stockwell, R Lloyd, J Rogers, H Hilton, W Reid, G Rees, R Gronow, E Milnes and E Johnston. Refereed by L H Kearney, the visitors, after leading 13-10 at half-time, won the game 25-15.[7]


Monday, 21 June
Wide Bay North Sydney colours.svg 13 – 34 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
J. Bradley, F. Heidke, W. Marles
Goals:
A. Toft (2)
[6] Tries:
Harold Wagstaff (2), Jim Bacon, Herman Hilton, Jonty Parkin, Squire Stockwell, Billy Stone
Goals:
Ben Gronow (5)
The Reserve, Bundaberg
Attendance: 4,000

Tuesday, 22 June
Central Queensland Central Comets colours.svg 15 – 26 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
C. Bannon, T. Barnes, G. Price
Goals:
D. McIvor (3)
[7] Tries:
Billy Cunliffe, Evan Davies, Ernest Jones, William Reid, Arthur Skelhorne, Squire Stockwell
Goals:
Alf Wood (4)
George Street Ground, Rockhampton
Referee/s: W. Thorpe

Thursday, 24 June
Ipswich Ipswich Colours.svg 12 – 40 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
Jim McBrien, Colin Thompson
Goals:
Walter Paten (3)
[8] Tries:
Joe Doyle (2), Cyril Stacey (2), Squire Stockwell (2), Jim Bacon, Bobby Lloyd, William Reid
Goals:
Ben Gronow (3)
Alf Wood (2)
North Ipswich Reserve, Ipswich
Attendance: 5,000
Referee/s: H. Francis

First test[edit]

The first test of the 1920 Ashes series was played on the 26th of June at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground before a crowd of 32,000, it was refereed by local whistleblower Laurie Kearney.[8] Albert Johnston was selected to captain Australia in the opening Test of the series in the absence of champion centre Herb Gilbert. Despite a last minute reshuffling of the team which saw Johnston move to halfback.[4]

Saturday, 26 June
Australia  8 – 4 United Kingdom Northern Union
Tries:
Frank Burge
Charles Fraser
Goals:
Harold Horder (1)
[9] Tries:


Goals:
Ben Gronow (2)
Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Brisbane
Attendance: 32,000
Referee/s: Laurie Kearney Australia
Australia Posit. Northern Union
Harry Fewin FB Gwyn Thomas
Dick Vest WG Billy Stone
Viv Farnsworth CE Danny Hurcombe
Neville Broadfoot CE Harold Wagstaff (c)
Harold Horder WG Jim Bacon
Charles Fraser SO Johnny Rogers
Albert Johnston (c) SH Jonty Parkin
Norm Potter PR Arthur Johnson
Sandy Pearce HK Alf Milnes
Bill Schultz PR Ben Gronow
Bill Richards SR Frank Gallagher
Frank Burge SR Herman Hilton
Bert Gray LF Douglas Clark

Australia won the match 8-4.[10]


Monday, 28 June
Toowoomba Toowoomba Clydesdales colours.svg 28 – 48 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
Edwin Brown, G. Hawthorne, L. Melbusch, Fred Prouton, W. Smith
Goals:
Fred Prouton (3)
Edwin Brown (2)
[9] Tries:
Billy Stone (5), Harold Wagstaff (2), William Reid, Cyril Stacey, Squire Stockwell
Goals:
Alf Wood (9)
Athletic Oval, Toowoomba
Attendance: 3,000
Referee/s: J. Steele

Second test[edit]

Albert Johnston lost the Australian captaincy on Herb Gilbert's return and played at five-eighth in the second Ashes Test.[4] The match was played on the 3rd of July at the Sydney Cricket Ground and attracted 67,739 spectators, then a record attendance for any sport at the SCG.[11]

Saturday, 3 July
Australia  21 – 8 United Kingdom Northern Union
Tries:
Viv Farnsworth
Herb Gilbert
Harold Horder
Norm Potter
Dick Vest
Goals:
Frank Burge (1)
Harold Horder (1)
Field Goals:
Charles Fraser
[12] Tries:
Frank Gallagher
Arthur Johnson



Goals:
Ben Gronow (1)
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Attendance: 40,000
Referee/s: Tom McMahon, Sr. Australia
Australia Posit. Northern Union
Charles Fraser FB Gwyn Thomas
Dick Vest WG Jim Bacon
Viv Farnsworth CE Harold Wagstaff (c)
Herb Gilbert (c) CE Danny Hurcombe
Harold Horder WG Billy Stone
Albert Johnston SO Johnny Rogers
Duncan Thompson SH Bobby Lloyd
Bill Schultz PR Ben Gronow
Sandy Pearce HK Alf Milnes
Norm Potter PR Arthur Johnson
Frank Burge SR Herman Hilton
Bert Gray SR Douglas Clark
Bill Richards LF Frank Gallagher

Australian halfback Duncan Thompson starred in the match,[13] which was won by the hosts 21-8,[10] with this Australia secured the Ashes for the first time on home soil.


Wednesday, 7 July
Tamworth Australian colours.svg 10 – 27 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
H Hassan, Ted Taplin

Goals:
J Orchard (2)
[10] Tries:
Jonty Parkin (3), Evan Davies (2), Frank Gallagher, Herman Hilton
Goals:
Ben Gronow (3)
Tamworth Oval, Tamworth
Attendance: 3,000
Referee/s: H. Flynn

Third test[edit]

The third Test was played on the 10th of July in Sydney, with Great Britain winning 23-13.[10]

Saturday, 10 July
Australia  13 – 23 United Kingdom Northern Union
Tries:
Frank Burge
Bert Gray
Duncan Thompson
Goals:
Frank Burge (2)
[14] Tries:
Herman Hilton (2)
Billy Stone (2)
Jim Bacon
Goals:
Johnny Rogers (3)
Squire Stockwell (1)
RAS Showground, Sydney
Attendance: 32,000
Referee/s: Tom McMahon, Sr. Australia
Australia Posit. Northern Union
Charles Fraser FB Gwyn Thomas (c)
Dick Vest WG Johnny Rogers
Viv Farnsworth CE Billy Stone
Herb Gilbert (c) CE Jim Bacon
Harold Horder WG Squire Stockwell
Albert Johnston SO Ernest Jones
Duncan Thompson SH Jonty Parkin
Norm Potter PR Arthur Skelhorne
Sandy Pearce HK Joe Cartwright
Bill Schultz PR Billy Cunliffe
Frank Burge SR Herman Hilton
Bert Gray SR Douglas Clark
Bill Richards LF Frank Gallagher

Wednesday, 25 August
Newcastle Newcastle foundation colours.svg 10 – 17 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
P. Gray, H. Williams
Goals:
Dan Davies (1)
H. Williams (1)
[11] Tries:
Jonty Parkin (2), Jim Bacon, Evan Davies, Danny Hurcombe
Goals:
Arthur Johnson (1)
Newcastle Showgrounds, Newcastle
Attendance: 2,000
Referee/s: E. Brien

The British also played two matches against a Newcastle rugby league team that featured Dan "Laddo" Davies,[15] the first game was on the 25th of August and the tourists won 17-10. The second was on the 28th which they also won 24-3.[16]


Saturday, 28 August
Newcastle Newcastle foundation colours.svg 3 – 24 Great Britain colours.svg Northern Union
Tries:
William Bell
Goals:
[12] Tries:
Bobby Lloyd, Evan Davies, Ben Gronow, Herman Hilton, Ernest Jones
Goals:
Ben Gronow (3)
Newcastle Number 1 Sports Ground, Newcastle
Attendance: 12,000
Referee/s: E. Brien

New Zealand[edit]

The British team played a three-Test series against New Zealand just as it did against Australia. Karl Ifwerson captained the Kiwis against the tourists.[17]

After losing their first game to Auckland, the tourists won all three Tests.[18]

In the Test at Wellington, the British were behind on the scoreboard 10-0, but made it 10-6 before Douglas Clark forced his way over the line for the match-winning try which Ben Gronow converted, giving the visitors an 11-10 victory.[19]

The second Test was played in Christchurch on Saturday, 7 August, and was won by the tourists 19 points to 3.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tony Collins (2006). Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain: A Social and Cultural History. UK: Routledge. p. 23. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Cheapening the Jumper". stevericketts.com.au. Stve Ricketts. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Geoffrey Sherington & Steve Georgakis (2008). Sydney University Sport 1852-2007: More Than a Club. Australia: Sydney University Press. p. 172. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Whiticker, Alan. "Albert Johnston". rugbyleagueproject.org. Shawn Dollin, Andrew Ferguson and Bill Bates. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "League Football: England team at Brisbane". Dominion (228). Press Association. 21 June 1920. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Queensland Representative Players". qrl.com.au. Queensland Rugby League. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "British Team: League footballers defeat Queensland". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 June 1920. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Representative Referees". brlrefs.com. Brisbane Rugby League Referees Association. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  9. ^ 1st Ashes Test
  10. ^ a b c "Australia v Great Britain: the history". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "SCG Timelines". sydneycricketground.com.au. Sydney Cricket Ground. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  12. ^ 2nd Ashes Test
  13. ^ Whiticker, Alan. "Duncan Thompson". rugbyleagueproject.org. Shawn Dollin, Andrew Ferguson and Bill Bates. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  14. ^ 3rd Ashes Test
  15. ^ "Team of the Century". westrosellas.com.au. Western Suburbs Rosellas. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "1920 – 1929". newcastlerugbyleague.com.au. Newcastle Rugby League. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  17. ^ Tony Collins (2009). A Social History of English Rugby Union. UK: Routledge. p. 170. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  18. ^ John Coffey & Bernie Wood (2008). 100 Years: Māori Rugby League, 1908-2008. New Zealand: Huia Publishers. p. 73. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Douglas Clark". huddersfieldrlheritage.co.uk. Huddersfield Rugby League Heritage Project. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "Rugby League: England defeats New Zealand". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 August 1920. Retrieved 24 August 2014.