England defeats Australia, 1932
This is the earliest footage of an international rugby league game in the NFSA collection. England defeats Australia in the first rugby league test in Sydney.
The Great Britain Lions toured Australia and New Zealand between May and August 1932. They played 18 games in Australia including a three-test series.
The first test was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday 6 June 1932. There was enormous interest in the game with a crowd of over 70,000, a record for an international game that stood for the next 60 years. Police had to close the gates and several thousand more spectators watched the game from the adjacent agricultural ground and other vantage points. Legendary retired player Dally Messenger performed the ceremonial kick-off.
England scored first but the lead changed hands several times during the first half. The second half was scoreless with England eventually winning 8-6. Australia won the second test 15-6 but England wrapped up the test series in the third match, 18-13.
The footage also shows that players at the time did not have to fall back after a tackle but were permitted to crowd around the play-the-ball. They could also strike at the ball as it was being played.