There were amazing scenes in the dying minutes of the First Test between Australia and France at Parc des Princes, Paris, with the Kangaroos hanging on for a tense 15-8 win.
Australia led only 10-8 with six minutes left when France was awarded a scrum penalty in a handy position.
In those days you could kick for goal from such a penalty, so French fullback, Andre Audy stepped up for what looked like a certain two points. But Audy’s kick was off line, much to the disgust of the crowd of 10,789, with fans whistling derisively, given Audy had been off target all day.
A minute later the referee signaled another penalty against Australia, on the 20 metre line and in front of the posts.
Australian halfback, Keith Holman had tap kicked the ball after Audy’s unsuccessful shot, and then had fallen on the ball. This was allowed under the rules.
Australian captain-coach, Ken Kearney remonstrated with the referee, arguing that a scrum should be set.
Kearney called up his supporting forwards and linked arms with them.
Marseilles hard man, Francois Rinaldi, the ‘leader’ of the French pack, said he was happy with a scrum, so the referee agreed.
Holman, a much relieved man, scored a try, his second, in the closing stages to ensure an Australian victory.
Winger, Des McGovern was Australia’s other try scorer while for France their centre and skipper, Jacques Merquey scored a try as did second rower, Auguste Parent.
The match was played in the middle of the British leg of the tour, with the Australian’s flying from Leeds to Paris just a few days after a stirring 19-15 win over an English League XIII at Leigh.
The Second and Third Tests against France were played at Bordeaux and Lyon respectively, in late December, early January.
Australia, who had been beaten 2-1 in the 1955 domestic Test series against France, won all three Tests in 1956-57.