LONDON, Sunday: British Telecom, a disinterested party in the Foxtel-Optus
Vision war that has ravaged rugby league in Australia, was the unlikely
beneficiary of the Kangaroos' triumphant 16-8 victory against England at Wembley
A mobile phone call, at ?4.50 ($9.50) a minute, between Kangaroo coach Bob
Fulton and Australian Rugby League chief executive John Quayle followed the
exciting finale to rugby league's centenary year.
Possibly the most expensive phone call ever followed from the Wembley pitch
as Quayle spoke with Australian manager Geoff Carr, Fulton and players.
Another conference, minus mobile phones, had taken place at the players' team
hotel three hours before the game.
A succession of speakers, including captain Brad Fittler and experienced
international campaigner Tim Brasher, spoke to the players about what it was
like to win a World Cup.
They were members of the triumphant 1992 team, a year when half-hooker, goal
kicker, man of the match Andrew Johns was winning the Jersey Flegg with
Having established the positives of winning, Fulton and Carr then detailed a
series of negative experiences they claimed to have had with the tournament
Some of the perceived slights - trying to provide the Australians with poor
training facilities - are dubious, and others - the tournament organisers
allegedly booking the Australians economy air tickets - were downright false.
One example of discriminatory treatment by the tournament organisers might
have been true, however.
"We only got one free ticket for our families for the final but we were told
the English players got six," Brasher said.
That hit a nerve, particularly when Brasher, one the ARL's highest paid
players, said: "I had to buy four at 32 quid each."
Straight after the game, Fulton made a beeline for the smallest man on the
field, Manly half Geoff Toovey who, alone, commiserated with every English
player while his teammates were locked in little circles of delight.
The respect Fulton has for Toovey is enormous.
Toovey, as dummy half, covered more ground than any player and, as a front-on
ruck defender was forced to tackle men twice his size.
Fulton's course to Toovey was charted by Toovey's wife, Karen, who arrived
the day before the game.
"I was moved (that) Bob went to him first," she said. Toovey was unaware of
the honour, preferring to scold himself for a performance he thought
With a bump already forming on his forehead and his eyes aching from the
effort expended, he said: "I was a bit crook out there. Maybe my preparation
wasn't right. I got caught on my back after a quick play-the-ball and they
scored a try."
Toovey hit five-eighth Tony Smith in a great tackle four minutes into the
second half and was still on the turf when centre Paul Newlove jumped into dummy
half and ran past single marker Terry Hill for a try.
The try made it 10-8 to Australia, the closest England came to taking a
trophy from Australia on their own soil since 1960.
Great Britain's last Test series win at home was in 1959 and their last World
Cup victory in England was 1960. The Lions won in Lyon in 1972 on a countback
after the scores were level at 10-10 and no extra-time was played.
The England camp was dispirited and subdued after yesterday's loss,
recognising its best chance to take the silverware back from the "convicts" was
A new international order comes to the game next year, heralded by a
conference involving the Australian Super League and all the other major
league-playing nations in a London hotel the day before the final.
But after the match an adamant Fulton told a packed press conference the ARL
would win the current court action, Super League would not start next year and a
20-team competition would continue in 1996. He also cleverly said he doubted
any Super League players in Australia would begrudge the Kangaroos their
victory, thereby placing the pressure firmly on the rebels.
Nevertheless, he said: "We're not gloating. We're just happy to have won a
prize which was on offer."
One former Super Leaguer, reserve forward Jason Smith, who was once
threatened with banishment to the Metropolitan Cup by his Canterbury club, spent
time in the blood bin yesterday, but it was a minor problem in a great year.
Australia, with three games separating their opening-round loss and
yesterday's final, appeared a step too quick, a pass too fast and a neurone too
clever for England.
England played too conservatively, moving the ball to the backs only once per
set of six. Only when they looked to the flanks and the crowd of 66,540 rallied
them, did England threaten.
Coach Phil Larder blamed penalties and dropped ball for the loss, describing
it as "football suicide". But if the final pass in Australian attacking
movements had been taken several times, the Kangaroos would have won by a wider
There was a preoccupation with turning the ball inside midway through the
The Australian tactic seemed to be "turn it in" and if that doesn't work,
"turn it in". But straight running down the left flank soon followed, leading to
the try that clinched the game.
Fittler (pictured) kicked the ball near the England line, gained a rebound,
then looked at the referee to see whether he would rule "six again". With the
referee signalling last tackle, Fittler passed to winger Rod Wishart who found
prop forward Mark Carroll. Carroll passed to Andrew Johns, who flicked the ball
back inside. Brasher kicked it and followed through to force it over the line.
"I was going to kick it but I saw a big hole out wide and passed to Andrew,"
Brasher praised Fittler, saying: "He could say two plus two equals 10 and
you'd believe him."
AUSTRALIA 16 (Rod Wishart, Tim Brasher tries; Andrew Johns 4 goals) bt
ENGLAND 8 (Paul Newlove try; Bobbie Goulding 2 goals). Crowd: 66,540. Referee:
Stuart Cummings (England).