top of page

An Introduction to Australian Rugby League Polo Shirt


The Australian Rugby League Shirt Polo Retro Kangaroo Style was inspired by one of the finest ever Australian Rugby League teams – the 1968 Rugby League World Cup team.


The 1968 Rugby League World Cup tournament was staged in New Zealand and Australia during May and June in 1968. Great Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand were the competing teams. And it was the first Rugby League World Cup to be played under the new four tackle rules.

Australia got off to the perfect start when 62,256 fans packed into the Sydney Cricket Ground. To see the home team beat Great Britain by 25 points to 10. The game controversially referred by New Zealander John Percival. And the game lacked any cohesion with Percival constantly awarding penalties. Usually due to backchat from GB hooker Kevin Ashcroft. The game was effectively won by the kicking of Eric Simms. Who scored a record eight goals in the final score of Australia 25 points – Great Britain 10 points.


On the same day, across the Tasman Sea in Auckland, some 18,000 spectators packed the famous Carlow Park stadium. They came to see if the French could overcome the Kiwis. The game started to go the way of the visitors. New Zealand’s Second Row forward Brian Lee dismissed by Australian referee Col Pierce. France’s 26 capped stylish Stand-Off half Jean Capdouze who scored a try and added five goals. In response, the Kiwis winger Ernie Wiggs kicked five goals. France won the game by 15 points to 10.


A week later, Des Barchard the New Zealand Coach was looking for a much improved performance against the Kangaroos at Lang Park, Brisbane. Things looked to be going well for the Kiwis. As they led at half-time by 7 points to 4 and an upset looked a strong possibility. Aussie Coach St George Dragons and Warrington Wolves player – Harry Bath decided on a change in the Second Half. He replaced Stand-Off Tony Branson and gave the legendary Bob Fulton his first outing on the international stage. It turned out to be a master stroke. Fulton was outstanding and the Australian team ran in five second half tries compared to New Zealand’s single score. Ron Coote took the Man of the Match award.


The following day on an already muddy pitch in Auckland the heavens opened with torrential rain. And the conditions perfectly suited for Great Britain in their clash with France at Carlow Park. Partly overconfidence from the Lions, but the stubborn defence of the French team was truly outstanding. Surprisingly Great Britain played an expansive game in the appalling conditions and France made them pay. Winger Jean-René Ledru scored the only try of the match in the 7 points to 2 victory over the British. Which saw France reach the final.


In a strange coincidence, the two finalists – Australia and France had to play their group game before meeting in the final. The match attracted 32,664 spectators at Lang Park, Brisbane. But France were a shadow of the team that played Great Britain the week previously. An altercation between Australia’s imposing Prop Forward Artie Beetson and French Winger Jean-René Ledru resulted in both players’ dismissal. The home team ran riot winning by 37 points to 4, with Lionel Williamson and Bob Fulton both collecting a brace of tries.

Summary of the Final matches at the Rugby League World Cup


Great Britain and New Zealand met at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the 8th of June in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon. The Kiwis appeared to have little confidence and in contrast, the Lions played with self-belief. Welsh winger Clive Sullivan scored three tries in Great Britain’s total of eight. Kiwi Centre Paul Shultz responded with two late second half tries in response. The game finished Great Britain 38 points, New Zealand 14.


The final was held only two days after the group game and both teams must have been exhausted as they left Brisbane for Sydney. In front of a crowd of 54,290 the French team played much better than they had in the previous encounter. The low tackling of the visitors excited the fans, but they lacked any threat and in contrast Australia looked razor sharp with inspirational captain Johnny Raper  Ron Coote who scored spectacular tries in each and every game and kicker Eric Simms, who scored a record 25 goals. There were also the future greats who made a mark in this competition, the great Bob Fulton and Artie Beetson.


Another Australian youngster Canterbury Bankstown three-quarter Johnny Rhodes voted Man of the Tournament. His career however was plagued with injuries and his only other Australian appearances were in the 1975 World Championship. It had been a disappointing competition by the Great Britain team, but there were some bright signs, including the performances of both half-backs. Roger Millward would bounce back and star in the 1970 Great Britain Rugby League Ashes victory and Tommy Bishop made his mark in the NRL with Premiership team Cronulla Sharks.



Manufactured from 100% chunky pique cotton, the Ellis Rugby Australian Rugby League Shirt Polo Retro Kangaroo Style features detailed embroidery and appliqué badge as well as inner contrast placket, arm rib and collar stand. 

Ellis Rugby Australian Heritage Rugby Polo