FLASHBACK: FEBRUARY 1938
The English Rugby League farewelled the Australian tourists at the Griffin Hotel, Leeds.
A high note was struck in a letter from Tom Reynolds, the ‘Daily Herald’ writer, apologising for his non-attendance.
He said: ‘The English clubs can learn a lot from this great Australian team. I hope that when England sides are in Australia they will meet victory and defeat with as much dignity and sportsmanship as this team.”
England chairman, Arthur Bonner, said never in the history of the code, had a team been as unfortunately placed as the 1937-38 Kangaroos.
“The Australians lost the Ashes (series), but none would ever get so close without winning them,” Bonner said.
He added that the Australians had been wonderful ambassadors in France, where the code had only kicked off in 1934, the foundations now looking remarkably solid. (Only World War II and the Vichy Government would stop the march of rugby league against its rivals rugby union).
The Kangaroos’ transport arrangements were shambolic, with manager, Harry Sunderland at odds with administrators back in Australia.
After completing the French leg, it would have made sense for the Australians to sail from Toulon, back home. Instead, they had to travel by train, ferry and train back to the north of England for their official farewell. Then they had to make their way to the South of England, to sail home from Southhampton!
Photo: Griffin Hotel, Leeds