The RLWC Vintage Rugby League World Cup Clothing Collection

The RLWC Vintage Rugby League World Cup Clothing Collection by Ellis Rugby celebrates the history of this great tournament which began in France in 1954.

It was the French who only began playing Rugby League in the 1930s recognised the value of an international World Championship. Back in 1952, France had sensationally beaten Australia in a three-match series. Further, their dynamic, energetic young President Paul Barriere was eager to benefit from their success with the staging of a World Cup.

Aviation improvements made travel quicker and more convenient, particularly to the Southern Hemisphere. And with only four Test-playing nations – Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and France the logistics for a Rugby League World Cup seemed fairly straightforward.

Bill Fallowfield of Great Britain supported Barriere’s plans, but the Kangaroos administration were less convinced. In the end the French gave a financial guarantee of £25,000 to cover travel costs of the visiting teams. Australia then agreed to compete.

The World Cup became a reality. A lot of Great Britain’s best players had been on a gruelling tour to Australia and decided to make themselves unavailable. These players regretted that decision. They lost the opportunity to go down in history as a member of the first British team to be crowned World Champions in any sport.


Vintage RLWC 1958 – Proving the Critics Wrong.

Critics had described Dave Valentine‘s Great Britain team as ‘no-hopers’ as they crossed to France. But Valentine determined proved them wrong. They defeated a strong Australian team 28 points to 13. Then drew with France 13-13 and easily defeated New Zealand 26 points to 6.

The draw with France proved to be a stroke of good luck at the inaugural Rugby League World Cup. Because, as events unfolded, the draw meant Great Britain and France finished equal on points. It was then decided to stage a play-off game to crown a winner for the first RLWC.

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