FLASHBACK: November 1954

NOVEMBER 1954
A record crowd for rugby league in France – 37,474 – attended the World Cup match between the home side, captained by the legendary, Puig Aubert, and Great Britain, who had Scot, Dave Valentine from Huddersfield at the helm.
The match finished in a 13-13 draw, with Agen born French winger, Raymond Contrastin from the Bordeaux club, scoring the equalising try, 11 minutes from full time, with Aubert (XIII Catalan) unable to convert from the sideline.
It was Contrastin’s second try, and came courtesy of good inside work from dual rugby international, Jacques Merquey from Marseilles. The other try scorer for France was forward, Joseph Krawzwck from Lyon.
The French were coming off a 22-13 win over New Zealand in Paris and were supremely confident.
But Britain enjoyed the majority of possession, and their halfback, Gerry Helme from Warrington, made full use of it, scoring the try of the match with a superb dummy, as well as supplying his supports with quality ball.
Britain’s other tries were scored by Leeds’ winger, David Rose and his club-mate, five eighth, Gordon Brown.
The big crowd appreciated a contest which was played in the right spirit and featured many courageous defensive efforts.
Joe Humphreys, reporting for England’s ‘Daily Mirror’, said there was never a dull moment.
“Good football in flashes, the rough and tumble of a hectic cup-tie and those oddities with which only the French can spice a match – it was all there,” Humphreys wrote.
“France, mercurial as ever, prodded and probed, with click top-speed passing, almost every time they got the ball. But Britain’s young team, most with only one international match under their belts, had the right counters.”
Four days later, France defeated Australia 15-5 in Nantes to advance to the final against the British in Paris. Britain claimed the inaugural World Cup with a 16-12 win.
1 Raymond Contrastin scores the try which made it 13-13 in Toulouse
2 British centre, Phil Jackson from Barrow, races into the clear.

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