FORMER Australian vice-captain, Jack Reardon predicted a long drought for the Kangaroos at international level after Great Britain regained the Ashes with a 21-17 win in the Third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Reardon, writing in The Courier-Mail, based his prediction on the youth of the British touring party and their superior skill level.
The 21-17 scoreline flattered Australia as Britain scored five tries to one, with the goal kicking of debutant fullback, Allan McKean keeping the home side in the contest.
People will look back now and think that Reardon got it horribly wrong, given that by 1979 Australia was streets ahead of Britain, where the game had gone backwards because administrators failed to keep up with the new professionalism of the Sydney premiership.
But in the short term, Reardon’s prediction looked solid.
At the end of the 1970 season a World Cup was held in England and Australia only made it into the final on a for and against basis after losing to Britain and France.
The Kangaroos went on to win the final, but that was largely due to the British forgetting about football in favour of playing the man.
In 1971 Australia lost their only Test against the Kiwis 24-3!
In 1972 Britain won the World Cup in France after a 10-10, extra time draw with Australia, the British getting the trophy because they had beaten the Kangaroos in a qualifying match.
Australia then went on a golden run, but it has to be remembered that some of the best British and Kiwi players could not represent their country because they were playing in the Sydney competition. In those days you had to reside in your home country.
The 1974 British tourists were horribly depleted because of injuries and the unavailability of Sydney based stars, yet won the Second Test and led at halftime in the decider, before the Graeme Langlands inspired Aussies got home narrowly.
In France the game was struggling as rugby union gained in strength, although France had enough talent to beat the Kangaroos at home in two Tests in 1978.
Britain’s 1970 Ashes win was to be their last, something that could not have been envisaged at the time.
Man of the match was lock, Doug Laughton, who would captain the disappointing 1979 side.
BBC commentator, Eddie Waring said the Ashes were ‘back where they belonged’.
The trophy remained in RFL headquarters in Leeds only until November, 1973, when the touring Kangaroos won the series 2-1, after losing the First Test at Wembley.