The Rugby League World Cup: The Illustrated History of Rugby’s Oldest Global Tournament.

Editor – Tim Butcher

Edited by Tim Butcher of League Publications Ltd who also publishes a range of books. Including the annual Rugby League Yearbook containing a detailed analysis of the Rugby League season.

Revised and updated to include the 2008 World Cup in Australia. This is the definitive history of the Rugby League World Cup. Features unprecedented statistical information on every tournament since 1954 and a wealth of illustrations. An absolutely unmissable addition to the library of any Rugby League supporter.

Here’s the Book Preview – The Rugby League World Cup: The Illustrated History of Rugby’s Oldest Global Tournament

Paul Barriere died on May 29th, 2008. Aged 87. Barriere was the founding father of the Rugby League World Cup. Which first took place in his native France in 1954. With the lukewarm participation of Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia. Five months after his death. The Frenchman’s vision for the world game was fully vindicated by the 13th Rugby League World Cup.

Barriere was one of League’s greatest administrators. A former Resistance leader. Awarded the Croix de Guerre and Medaille de la Resistance. Barriere took the fight for League’s reinstatement to the National Sports Committee in Paris. Despite rugby union’s opposition. He was 27 when elected president of the French Rugby League Federation in 1947. And presided over a golden age for rugby a treize in France during the 1950s.

Paul Barriere the inspiration behind the Rugby League World Cup

If it hadn’t been for the foresight of Barriere. The Rugby League World Cup might never have happened.
The concept of a World Cup had its opponents back in the 1950s. Administrators, sound people with the future of the game at heart. But, who couldn’t see the merit or the potential in Rugby League as a world game. Some might say, little has changed. But in this age of global media and marketing. It would be folly for administrators to sit back and not impose Rugby League on a world stage.
For many years the Rugby League World Cup was restricted to four nations. France, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. With England and Wales given brief appearances in one competition.

The Rugby League World Cup expands to 16 nations by 2000

Papua New Guinea was invited to the show in 1985. When the World Cup was played over three years! But it wasn’t until the 1995 World Cup. The centerpiece of the English centenary celebrations. That Rugby League finally took the bull by the horns. With ten nations enjoying a wonderful three weeks, in unseasonably balmy October English weather.
By the year 2000, the Rugby League World Cup had expanded to 16 teams. Confirming Paul Barriere’s vision of League as a truly global sport.
The expanded competition gave the World Cup organisers the opportunity to showcase the game. In every part of the United Kingdom, in Ireland, and in France.

Legends of the Rugby League game – Puig Aubert of France, Billy Slater of Australia, Stanley Gene of Papua New Guinea

How satisfying must it have been for Barriere. To see his beloved France qualify for the quarter-finals of the 2000 World Cup. With their win in front of a capacity crowd in Carcassonne. Also, on the same day, the Treizistes unveiled a statue of World Cup legend Puig Aubert.
The 2008 World Cup was a more conservative affair than the one eight years before. With ten teams involved in a format to suit TV broadcasters. That wasn’t received well. But it did produce some fabulous events. It was a pity that Barriere couldn’t have survived. To see the likes of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Ireland, and Scotland. Produce matches of such quality and excitement.
New legends were born in the World Cup of 2008. One was Australia’s fullback, Billy Slater. He was the winner of the Golden Boot in 2008. Presented by Rugby League World magazine to the best player in the world. Slater was the out-and-out player of the World Cup. And yet made the mistake that gifted New Zealand their first World Cup.
And Stanley Gene. Playing in his third and last World Cup for Papua New Guinea. He was carried on the shoulders of his countrymen in tears. After the Kumuls’ exit at the hands of Australia.
And it will be hard to forget how the Fijians celebrated their victories. By joining in a circle to belt out the sweetest of hymns.

More World Cup Legends – Dave Valentine Great Britain, Wally Lewis Australia, Clive Sullivan Great Britain, and many more…

There were many more legends before. There’s the story of how a Scotsman was the first to lift the great old trophy. Captaining a side of British no-hopers that weren’t even allowed to take their coach with them to the first World Cup in France.
The star of the 1957 World Cup. Who was almost prevented from representing the Kangaroos by his club committee.
The Roman Catholic priest from Newcastle. Who featured in the infamous battle of Headingley in 1970. That led to calls for Rugby League to be banned from TV screens to protect the nation’s youth.
Captain Clive Sullivan. Who effectively won the World Cup for Great Britain. For the third and last time. By racing 70 metres for a stunning try in Lyon.
And Emperor Wally Lewis, who helped win the 1988 World Cup for Australia despite suffering a broken arm in the final.

A record of Rugby’s oldest World Cup Tournament

We hope you enjoy this comprehensive record of rugby’s oldest World Cup tournament. And leave you with a hope held by Paul Barriere back in 1953. When he was attempting to persuade the rest of the Rugby League world to think global. “It appears to us…that the time has now come to organise a World Cup series – indeed we feel it indispensable.
Let’s hope that the spirit of Paul Barriere will always live on.

Where to buy the book?

Firstly, this book is available from TOTAL RUGBY LEAGUE. In addition, we offer the 1954 Rugby League World Cup Vintage Navy T-Shirt inspired by Paul Barriere. Also, we offer the 1972 Rugby League World Cup Vintage White T-Shirt inspired by Clive Sullivan. And his team. There is also our Vintage Rugby League World Cup Shop.