Posted on November 7, 2019
Built to house an armada of fighter planes, it now reverberates to the drumming of feet, as shouting, puffing and panting fills the air.
Twenty-six young men, gently baking and bronzing in the heat and glare, have their eyes on one prize; the leather rugby football which is being tossed between them. Suddenly, there is a splash. The ball has been errantly whizzed over the side of the ship, tumbling into the waters below. Without hesitation, one of the players leaps from the towering carrier, falling a dizzying height into the sea. Eventually, he scampers up the side, sodden but clutching his cargo.
For rugby league centre Eric Batten, there is a severe telling off from the ship’s captain… “There are sharks in that water.”
But he knows those balls are precious.
It is 1946, and Great Britain’s elite rugby league team – 26 of the best players the British Isles can muster – is heading for Australia and New Zealand. Little more than six months since World War Two ended, the men are trading the ration-book austerity of post-war Britain for new horizons down under. Their transport is a 23,000-tonne aircraft carrier, the Indomitable, ferrying them 10,000 miles over four weeks, stopping at far-off lands, for a six-month tour.
To read the full story, click on the link below: