Garry Schofield’s 15 greatest Ashes moments

What is the Rugby Football League thinking of with these online polls?

Hot on the heels of their curious suggestions for the game’s greatest coach, we have their five picks as the top Ashes moments.

Not only have they bypassed some truly memorable games in a series that stretches right back to 1908, but also three of their choices didn’t happen during Ashes matches.

The only two of the RFL’s five to qualify under the Ashes banner are the Rorke’s Drift Test of 1914 and Great Britain’s 19-12 Wembley win in 1990, which I’m happy to say I was a part of.

Great Britain’s 23-12 victory at Sydney in 2006, the last over Australia by a side from these shores and memorable as it was, came during the Tri-Nations.

And England’s 20-16 win over Australia at Wembley in 1995, and the ‘ankle tap’ of 2017, were during the World Cup.

That last one really is clutching at straws.

Yes, Josh Dugan did do well to stop Kallum Watkins as he broke through during the final at Brisbane, and yes, England might have drawn level at 6-6.

But there were still 15 minutes remaining, during which anything could have happened, and, let’s be honest, the Kangaroos, even though they weren’t as good as previous Australian sides, could have been further ahead by that point, having had more of the pressure and a Michael Morgan try disallowed.

Just as with the greatest coach, it seems the RFL have to justify their decision to employ Wayne Bennett.
Regular readers will know my feelings on that subject, and also my respect for the history and heritage of our great game.

Plenty of football fans point out that their sport existed before the formation of the Premier League back in 1992, and I think the RFL are leaving themselves wide open to the same type of accusation.

And as someone who took part in six Ashes series and skippered the Lions, I also think they are falling into the trap of showing a lack of respect for all those great players of the past who have done as much as the modern-day stars to make the sport what it is.

So, I’ve had an enjoyable dip into the past to come up with my 15 great Ashes moments.

And I haven’t even included what I consider to be my best-ever try scores during the second Test of the 1984 series, my first with the Lions, at Lang Park in Brisbane, where we went down 18-6!

My greatest Ashes moments
1 1914: A gritty backs-to-the-wall performance in the third and deciding ‘Rorke’s Drift’ Test at Sydney earned a Northern Union side depleted by injuries an against-the-odds 14-6 victory and 2-1 series success. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift, during which 150 British and colonial troops held of attacks by up to 4,000 Zulu warriors, had taken place in South Africa in 1879. It was famously portrayed in the sixties film Zulu, starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine.

2 1929-30: With the third Test at Swinton scoreless going into the final few minutes, Aussie halfback Joe ‘Chimpy’ Busch dashed 30 metres from a scrum win and beat Frank Butters’ attempted tackle to crash over wide out. But with the referee set to award the try, it was controversially ruled out on the advice of a touch judge, who saw Busch touch the corner post. The match finished 0-0 and the Lions clinched the four-match series 2-1 by winning 3-0 at Rochdale in a hastily arranged fourth Test.

3 1932: The second Test, won 15-6 by Australia and nicknamed the ‘Battle of Brisbane’, is considered one of the most violent Rugby League matches ever played. England clinched a 2-1 series win with an 18-13 victory in the third Test at Sydney.

4 1946: The ‘Indomitables’, called after the Royal Navy warship which took them on an epic journey across the world in the aftermath of the Second World War, won the series with two wins and a draw.

5 1950: Australia fought back from a 6-4 defeat in the first Test at Sydney to claim the Ashes for the first time in 30 years with a 2-1 series win.

6 1958: Prop Alan Prescott broke an arm just four minutes into the second Test at Brisbane, but carried on playing and skippered the tourists to a 25-18 victory, which levelled a series they went on to win.

7 1962: What is considered to be the best Lions side ever, skippered by Eric Ashton, wrapped up a fourth successive Ashes triumph within two Tests Down Under. The side included superb scrum-half Alex Murphy, winger Billy Boston and Cumbrian second row Dick Huddart, who had a sensational tour and ended up playing for top Australian club St George for five seasons.

8 1970: Inspirational skipper and future Great Britain coach Frank Myler led a fightback from a 37-15 defeat in game one in Brisbane as the Lions won twice at Sydney to claim what remains their last Ashes success.

9 1978: The so-called ‘Dad’s Army’ Great Britain side, captained by 31-year-old Roger Millward, defeated Frank Stanton’s powerful Kangaroos 18-14 at Odsal to square a series which Australia edged with a 23-6 victory at Headingley.

10 1988: Scrum-half Andy Gregory was a stand-out as Mal Reilly’s injury-hit Lions, beaten in the first two Tests, claimed a memorable 26-12 win in the third match at Sydney, where Henderson Gill (2), Martin Offiah, Phil Ford and Mike Gregory scored tries and Paul Loughlin kicked three goals. This was my second Ashes tour.

11 1990: After winning the first Test at Wembley 19-12, when I’m happy to say I kicked a field-goal, Great Britain came agonisingly close to clinching the series at Old Trafford. It was 10-10 until the final few minutes, when under-pressure Australia conjured up a length-of the-field try that was finished off by Mal Meninga to claim victory. The Kangaroos won the final Test at Elland Road 14-0.

12 1992: I’m proud to have been skipper, and scored a try, as Great Britain made light of the cold and wet conditions in the first-ever Ashes Test played at Melbourne to square the series with a fine 33-10 success. But Australia kept hold of the title by winning 16-10 at Brisbane. Sky’s coverage meant it was the first tour shown live in the UK.

13 1994: In my sixth Ashes series, the Lions won the first meeting at Wembley 8-4 despite the 25th-minute sending off of Shaun Edwards for a high shot on Bradley Clyde. But the Kangaroos still took the last series before the Super League era 2-1.

14 2001: Super Paul Sculthorpe scored two tries and kicked two field-goals as the Lions made a flying start to the series with a 20-12 success at Huddersfield. However, Chris Anderson’s Kangaroos were winners at Bolton and Wigan.

15 2003: There was a sensational start to the most recent Ashes series as in the first hit-up of the first Test at Wigan, Adrian Morley (pictured) was red carded for taking out Robbie Kearns. The Lions still produced a battling performance, and Australia, just as in the following two meetings at Hull and Huddersfield, had to come from behind to claim a narrow victory.