Another World Cup starts this week and it got me thinking about my own memories of previous tournaments.
My first memory of anything to do with the World Cup dates back to the final of the 1989-92 tournament. It was a convoluted format that saw all the test playing nations play each other over the three year period with certain test matches also counting as World Cup games.
My burgeoning interest in Rugby League had seen me endure a full domestic season of an eight team, 28 game programme and in the build up to the Final, Leigh had got promoted to the old first division (yes there was life before Super League) but despite best efforts couldn’t buy a win in the top flight.
I recall Phil Clark being sent off for Wigan against Leigh for a “clothes line” high tackle and he only got a two game suspension which by some quirk of fate made him available to pull on a Great Britan jersey.
The final was played at Wembley – Great Britan v Australia. The two nations had fought out an intriguing test series earlier that summer (which included a memorable 33-10 thrashing of the Aussies in Melbourne).
I remember watching this game in front of the television with my dad and grandad and it was so nervously close. Both teams cancelled each other out for much of the game before the crucial moment came.
The otherwise unflappable Welshman John Devereux shot out of the line with Steve Renouf, complete with head guard, flashing past the Widnes man and over for the crucial score. Ultimately the game was lost 10-6 and I feel sure that missed tackle played on Devereux’s mind for years after.
Renouf of course became one of the most celebrated players in a magnificent Brisbane Broncos side and later enjoyed the twilight of his career at Wigan.
As a young teen I wondered whether I would ever see the Aussies lose in a big competition and I had to wait until 2008 for New Zealand to topple their dominance.
I’d love to hear about your memories of the game and protracted tournament.