The last rugby league Test played at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds proved an embarrassment for the French touring side, which capitulated 56-6 to the Keith Barnes’ captained Australia.
The ground wasn’t big enough for everyone who wanted a ticket, with the Brisbane public anticipating a great contest, after the First Test in Sydney had finished 8-8, in a try-less affair.
There was no shortage of tries on this occasion, with 12 scored, all by the Australians. France’s only points came from the boot of former rugby union international, Pierre Lacaze from the Toulouse Olympique club.
Halfback, Bobby Bugden (St George, Sydney) and winger, Ken Irvine (North Sydney) scored three tries each, while winger, Lionel Morgan (Wynnum-Manly), the first indigenous Australian to play Test football, scored two tries. Bugden and Morgan, both making their Test debuts, were originally from the Tweed Valley in northern New South Wales.
Morgan sidestepped three Frenchmen to score his first try, and chopped back inside prop, Marcel Bescos (Albi) for the second.
France fought hard in the first half, and Australia only led 13-4 as the halftime hooter sounded. But referee, Darcy Lawler did not hear the hooter, above the din of the crowd of 32,644 and Australia crossed for another try, before Lawler heard the second blast.
The Frenchmen were incensed.
The Australian pack, with Norm Provan (St George) an inspirational figure, stood wide in the rucks, and created havoc. Former France rugby union skipper, Jean Barthe (Roanne) had a wonderful first half duel with Provan, but faded badly in the second half.
Australian five eighth, Bobby Banks (Cunnamulla) proved the ideal link play for centres, Reg Gasnier (St George) and Harry Wells (Sydney Wests). France’s best were Bescos and Villeneueve-sur-Lot winger, Jean Foussat.
The 56-6 win was the greatest score in Test history, at that time, and Barnes also established a record by kicking 10 goals (from 14 shots). It was the highest number of goals kicked by an Australian in a Test. Welsh wizard, Lewis Jones kicked 10 goals for Great Britain against Australia in Brisbane in 1954.
Four days after the Test, France beat Ipswich 33-19 at North Ipswich Reserve.
Dashing centre, Alain Perducat (Roanne) was the outstanding back, with his speed and elusiveness creating many openings for his side, with winger, Jean Verges (Catalan XIII) scoring two of the seven tries. Hefty prop, Angelo Boldini (Villeneuve) infused fire and determination into attack and defence, and never tired of tacking.
Ipswich five eighth, Don Barrett (Booval Swifts) was the local team’s best, while lightweight second rower, Mick Scully (West End) was the pick of the pack. Former Queensland Rugby Union forward, John Cleary (Brothers), a local school teacher, also played well.
At the post match reception, at Whitehouse’s Cafe, local identity, Andre Thomas acted as interpreter. Thomas came to Ipswich from France in 1951, and was employed in the Ipswich Woollen Mills. He played soccer as a lad in France.
France completed the Queensland leg of their tour with a 21-all draw with Toowoomba, at the Toowoomba Athletic Oval, with the record crowd of 11,000 getting their money’s worth from both teams, with attack the priority.
The star of the match was Toowoomba fullback, Frank Drake, with many in the crowd coming primarily to see the former Balmain player – a deputy to Keith Barnes at the Tigers. Drake would go on to make his Test debut against the Kiwis in New Zealand the following year, when he was contracted to Brisbane Souths.
In the main curtain raiser, Warwick and District beat Dalby 15-10, to collect 500 pounds prizemoney from the Caltex Oil Company.
Before the international, Toowoomba Mayor, Alderman Jack McCafferty named the new grandstand in honor of local former international, Edward ‘Nigger’ Brown, the naming of the stand a cause of controversy in the years to come.
Incredibly, France won the Third Test in Sydney, 7-5, to square the series. They had won the 1951 and 1955 series in Australia, so there was enormous respect for French Rugby League in Australia.
1 Ken Irvine on his way to one of his three tries against France at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds in 1960
2 Marcel Bescos arrives too late to stop Australia’s Rex Mossop unloading to Johnny Raper
3 Lionel Morgan in action for Brisbane against Ipswich. Here he gets around Don Barrett.