The Wales Rugby League Shirt 1975 Vintage Style designed and produced by Ellis Rugby celebrates the group of exceptional Wales Rugby players involved in the game of Rugby League and who played in the Rugby League World Cup of 1975. To launch the shirt, we created the video below which helps tell the story. This can also be viewed on our unique Ellis Rugby ‘Story-Teller’ chip sewn in to the shirt itself.


The 1975 Rugby League World Championship format differed from that employed in previous competitions. No single country hosted the matches, which were spread out in a ‘world series’ hosted by each of the five participating nations over a period of just over eight months. Each team had to play the others on a ‘home and away’ basis. Great Britain were split up into separate England and Wales teams, taking advantage of a glut of Welsh talent in the British game at the time.

No final was held, with Australia being deemed the champions by virtue of finishing on top of the table with England coming in second. However, the Welsh team made a huge impact on the competition, particularly with their victory over England on the 10th June 1975. Wales beat England 12-7 in a win that would eventually go a long way to preventing England from winning the World Cup.

Wales’s 20-man Australasian squad was coached by Les Pearce and skippered by David Watkins and featured Kel Costlett, Tony Fisher, Bill Francis, John Mantle, Roy Mathias, Jim Mills and Mike Nicholas.
The tournament kicked off on March 2 and finished on November 6, the title being decided on league placings. Wales didn’t begin that well when they visited Toulouse and were beaten 14 points to 7 by France at the Stade Municipal. Bernard Curt and Rene Terrats crossed for tries, Victor Serrano kicked three goals with Jacky Imbert and Jean-Pierre Lacoste added drop goals. For Wales Frank Wilson scored a try and Kel Coslett kicked two goals.


Next was the infamous England v Wales match at Lang Park in Brisbane. David Treasure and Clive Sullivan scored tries for Wales that day with David Watkins kicking three goals. Tommy Martyn replied for England with their only try with Scottish born George Fairbairn, kicking two goals.

Know as the “Battle of Brisbane”. In his biography, “Big Jim”, Jim Mills remembers the game well. Mills said: “It was one of those games, playing against team-mates and friends for your country. Alex Murphy had been on television the night before and when asked about the Welsh team, he said that none of them are good enough to get into the England team. That set the match up when he said that, everyone was a bit bitter”.

Only four days later Wales met Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The welsh team, still sore from the brutal encounter with England came up against a fresh Kangaroos team. They competed well, but eventually tired and the Aussies finished with a 30 points to 13 Wales. Tony Fisher scored the lone try and David Watkins kicked five goals.

Wales travelled to New Zealand to play the Kiwis at Carlaw Park in Auckland. Although the Welsh team outscored their hosts by two tries through Bill Francis and Jim Mills to one by Phil Orchard – they were defeated by 13 points to 8. Warren Collicoat kicked 5 goals for New Zealand and a lone goal from David Watkins.

The tournament then moved from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere and some three months later Wales met England at the return fixture in Warrington. In a close game England gained revenge with a 22 points to 16 win. Wales fought well throughout with tries through Peter Banner and Kel Coslett along with five goals by David Watkins.


Following an 18 points to 6 defeat to the eventual World Champions Australia – Wales met New Zealand. The game played at St Helens in Swansea saw Wales hold-out a strong late challenge from the Kiwis. Try scorers included John Bevan, John Mantle, David Willicombe and two for Bill Francis. Captain David Watkins added five goals.
The campaign was finished in great style as Wales defeated France by 23 points to 2. Try scorers included Peter Banner, John Bevan, Bill Francis, Brian Gregory and David Willicombe. The trusty boot of David Watkins added four goals.