ENGLAND defeated Australia 16-13 in a fiery World Series match at Wigan’s Central Park, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Kangaroos from claiming the tournament’s major prize.
England, who drew 10-10 with Australia in a first round clash in Sydney, had a shock loss to Wales in Brisbane to blame for missing out the title of World Champions, which was decided after a home and away series of matches, with no final required.
The other competing countries were France and New Zealand.
Australia’s 19-year-old winger, Ian Schubert scored three tries at Wigan, but the goal kicking of England fullback, George Fairbairn proved the difference, the former Scots rugby union player landing five goals, while Australia’s Mick Cronin kicked just two goals.
Giant prop, Jeff Grayshon and Leeds’ crowd favourite, John Holmes scored England’s tries.
Kiwi referee, Jack ’10 yards’ Percival, penalised Australia 14-9, much to the delight of the Wigan crowd, who booed the Kangaroos at every opportunity.
Australia, captained by Arthur Beetson, were backing up from a brutal win over Wales at Swansea, and several players took the field carrying injuries.
Years later Australian five eighth, Johnny Peard admitted discipline on the tour was lax. Chief party animals were Tom Raudonikis, Graham Eadie, Terry Randall and Ray Higgs, with the foursome earning the nick name ‘The Rat Pack’.
Australian hooker, George Piggins, said there were a number of off-field experiences which soured the tour, for him.
“I saw things that were pretty bloody disgraceful,” he wrote in his book ‘Never Say Die’.
Thank God there was no social media then. Almost no media!!
One of England’s stars in 1975 was young Castleford lock, Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton, who had made his Test debut for Great Britain against Australia in Sydney the previous year. Norton would go on to play two seasons at Manly-Warringah and was part of the Sea Eagles’ 1976 premiership winning side.
Schubert, a product of the Wauchope club, finished equal leading try scorer in the tournament, with England winger, Keith Fielding from Salford. Fielding previously had played rugby union for England from Moseley.