AUSTRALIAN lock, Ian ‘Ripper’ Doyle from Toowoomba was hailed the hero of the series clinching 10-6 win over France in the Second Test of the 1956 tour, played at Stade du Parc Lescure in Bordeaux, before a vocal crowd of 20,000.
After losing the First Test 15-8 in Paris, the French selectors had recalled a number of heroes of the 1955 series win in Australia, most notably Marseilles’ halfback, Jean Dop, a Basque man who switched from rugby union. Doyle was given the job of keeping Dop quiet, and he did so with great effect.
“Doyle marked Dop out of the game, so France’s attack was greatly blunted,” wrote one French journalist.
France badly missed dual rugby international, Jacques Merquey from Avignon, whose preparation was hindered by National Service commitments. Ultimately it was injury which forced him out of the Test.
Australia’s tries were scored by winger, Denis Flannery from Ipswich Brothers and halfback, Keith Holman (Sydney Wests), with Newtown’s Gordon Clifford landing one conversion and kicking a splendid field goal. France’s points came from two penalty goals by Gilbert Benausse from Toulouse and one by Andre’ Audy (Bordeaux).
Referee, Pierre Ribas dismissed Australian prop, Roy Bull (Manly-Warringah), but allowed Bull to return to the field after a five-minute spell, perhaps the first use of a ‘sin-bin’ in Test rugby league. The referee softened his stance after rival skippers, Ken Kearney from the St George club in Sydney, and Gabriel Berthomieu from Albi, had conferred, and agreed that banishment for the entire game was unwarranted.
In the lead-up to the Test, the Australians had played an 11-all draw with a French Army side at Limoges, scoring three tries to one. The match featured several fierce brawls.
On his retirement as a player, Ian ‘Ripper’ Doyle remained heavily involved with the game, coaching Queensland, and also commentating for radio. He featured in a League Talk show on 4BK with Roger Sellers and former Australian skipper, Peter Gallagher.
Doyle was licensee of the Coronational Hotel at South Brisbane for a number years, and it was a popular haunt for sports journalists, such as Kev Keliher, Paul Sweeney, David Falkenmire, Errol Harris, and, on occasions, yours truly.
Doyle had made his Test debut against the Kiwis at the SCG in 1956, and went on to play another six Tests. He also played seven matches for Queensland.
In 1967, he coached Queensland to a famous 13-11 victory over New South Wales at Lang Park, with patrons in the Frank Burke Stand giving the Maroons three cheers, at least four times. It was Queensland’s first win over NSW since 1961 and Queensland skipper, Johnny Gleeson was chaired from the field by spectators, after a courageous and skilful display at five eighth. Gleeson died on Christmas Day, 2021. ‘Ripper’ Doyle died in 1999. His older brother, Joe played 12 matches for Queensland in the 1930s, and one Test.