Interviews

The Lions Tour 1954

Although the 1954 Rugby League British Lions failed to retain the coveted ashes trophy, they took part in one of the most eventful tours of all time. Perhaps the most unforgettable experience of the trip took place before a match had been played, as this party was the first to fly out to Australia. The four day journey was described as a ‘nightmare’ when the plane arrived in Sydney on Monday 17th May with the passengers ‘t ired and shaken’. Then, following its arrival, the party began a gruelling schedule which lasted just over 3 months, and included 22 matches in Australia with a further 10 in New Zealand. But perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most infamous, incident of the tour took place on Saturday 10th July, the weekend before the third Test Match against Australia. The tourists played a New South Wales side which included many of the Australia team who had been selected to play on the following Saturday. However, with the series level at one win each, the Great Britain management decided to rest most of their Test players and field a side which was predominantly made up of forwards. The match was an exceptionally brutal affair and ended when referee Aubrey Oxford took the unprecedented step of abandoning play with 17 minutes left, causing many of the 27,000 strong crowd to gather outside the Great Britain dressing room in protest.