The Australian Test Team in the Battle of Brisbane III
Battle of Brisbane I
Date: June 18th, 1932
Venue: The ’Gabba
Score: Australia 15 – Great Britain 6
Before the game, the Australian coach, Harry Sunderland, made an audacious visit to the visitors’ dressing room. He proceeded to give a ‘helpful’ explanation of how the play-the-ball rule would be interpreted in the game on the floor, using pennies and florins. After the ‘lecture’, Sunderland departed abruptly, leaving the Englishmen bewildered.
The game was a brutally fierce affair, with men being carried off to the sidelines several times. Trainers used buckets of water to help revive players that had been concussed. At one point in the second half, Australia only had 10 men on the field.
The hero of the game was undoubtedly Australian five-eighth Eric Weissel. Late in the game, with Australia holding only a four point advantage, he ran back on to the field from the sideline, and with a badly damaged ankle, picked up a loose ball and ran 70 metres to set up the winning try.
Battle of Brisbane II
Date: July 5th, 1958
Venue: Brisbane Exhibition Ground
Score: Australia 18 – Great Britain 25
Great Britain captain Alan Prescott broke his right arm in a tackle involving Brian Davies after only two minutes. After going off to get his arm bandaged, he returned using only his left hand for handling and passing. During the half-time break a doctor examined him and he was diagnosed as having a compound fracture. He refused to have a painkilling injection and ignored advice to stay off the field.
In the 15th minute, Dave Bolton broke his collarbone and eventually had to come off. Jim Chalinor received a bruised shoulder, Eric Fraser had a burst blood vessel in his elbow and Vince Karalius bruised his spine. Despite all of the adversity Great Britain faced, they won the match by seven points. At the end of the match, the five severely injured Great Britain players went to the casualty ward at the Brisbane General Hospital.
Battle of Brisbane III
Date: June 6th, 1970
Venue: Lang Park
Score: Australia 37 – Great Britain 15
The most infamous incident of the game was the confrontation between Australia’s Jim Morgan and Great Britain’s Cliff Watson, about eight minutes before half-time. During an all-in-brawl, Morgan tried to headbutt Watson, but didn’t connect; Watson retaliated with a very effective ‘Liverpool kiss’ and Morgan received a flattened bloody nose as a result.
Amazingly, although Jim’s breathing was severely impaired, he ended up being a two-try hero in the match. Ironically, the two players were to become close friends in later years.
The Great Britain forwards tried to unsuccessfully bash the Australians into submission with high tackles. Ron Lynch got a broken jaw and had to be replaced after 20 minutes and John Wittenburg, Billy Smith and Graeme Langlands also received injuries. Impressive match statistics include Graeme Langlands booting nine goals despite his injury and Col Weiss making the most tackles, even though he only played 60 minutes.