Fiery forwards, Vince Karalius (Great Britain) and Jean Barthe (France) were sent from the field in a brutal rugby league World Cup match at Station Road, Swinton, with the British lock setting out to bait the French skipper, right from the outset.
French referee, Edouard Martung did not hesitate to show both men to the dressing rooms, after Karalius had elbowed Barthe on the ground, and the former rugby union international had replied with a head butt.
It was the first time in his distinguished career, in either rugby code, that Barthe had been marched.
Britain led 20-7 at that stage and went on to win 33-7 with centres, Austin Rhodes (St Helens) and Alan Davies (Oldham )scoring two tries each.
Karalius, originally from Widnes, but contracted to St Helens at the time, was a physical fitness fanatic, and his work rate was astonishing. Barthe, from the Roanne club, but originally from Lourdes Rugby Union, was equal to Karalius in all aspects.
Nothing went right for France in the 1960 tournament, the first in Britain, after France had hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1954, and then Australia won the rights to the 1957 tournament.
France had started the 1960 campaign on September 24 with a gutsy 13-12 loss to Australia at Central Park, Wigan, a match many believe they should have won. France’s third and final match, against New Zealand, back at Central Park, was a dead rubber, with both sides out of the reckoning for the final.
It was another brutal affair with France suffering a host of injuries, on a quagmire of a pitch, the mud hiding a broken bottle, which sliced open the knee of French prop, Aldo Quaglio from Roanne, who had been voted best rugby union prop in the world, before his switch to league in 1959. The other major injuries were hooker, Andres Vadon (two broken ribs); Albi club teammate, halfback, George Fages (rib cartilage) and Angelo Boldini from Villeneuve-sur-Lot (eye). Quaglio, the knee bone exposed by the cut, needed a tetanus injection before stitching could take place, and then he was taken to hospital, where he was later joined by Vadon, Fages and Boldini.
It was a gutsy effort by France to restrict the Kiwis to one try, by Tom Reid from the West Coast, with Cyril Eastlake from Ellerslie in Auckland kicking three goals.
French coach, Rene Duffort was proud of the courage shown by his men, but critical of club presidents back in France, many of whom stood in the way of some of the nation’s best players being available for the World Cup.
“There’s only a few presidents who buy into the ‘Team France’ idea,” Duffort said. “Most of them hide their players from me and assiduously avoid putting them up for selection. They encourage them to find reasons not to represent their country, surely the supreme sporting honor. Shady dealers like these do real damage to our chances. Names? I could name loads, but that’s not my way. I’m not an informer. They know who they are”.
At the end of the World Cup, the Kiwis played a match against France at Parc des Princes, Paris with the home team winning 22-11, with winger, Raymond Gruppi (Villeneuve) scoring two tries. A number of the Kiwis were leg weary, as they had played English club, Halifax the day before.
*I had the pleasure of meeting both Vince Karalius and Jean Barthe. I met and interviewed Karalius in 1981, when he was a guest of the Rothman’s (cigarette) company, for Rothman’s Medal Best and Fairest awards in Brisbane and Sydney. Vince lived on the Isle of Man at that stage, for tax reasons. He had made millions out of scrap metal. I met Jean Barthe in April, 1978 while on a back-packing holiday in Europe; and then again in September, 1989 while covering the Queensland Residents’ tour of France. Both meetings took place in Barthe’s ‘Bar Le Rugby’, Carcassonne. I wrote Barthe’s obituary for ‘The Courier-Mail’. He remains the only man to captain France in both rugby codes.
*Special thanks to Roger Grime’s excellent book ‘Stormy Sixties’ for much of the information in this story.
1 Vince Karalius and Jean Barthe on their way to the sheds after being sent off at Station Road, Swinton;
2 A dejected Jean Barthe in the dressing rooms
3 British halfback, Alex Murphy in action at Swinton against France.
4 Angelo Boldini, battered and bruised after the battle with the Kiwis.