Born – 4 December 1938

Passed Away – 27 March 2020

Vale Frank Myler

Great English player and coach, Frank Myler passed away recently in the north of England, aged 81. He was the last English captain to win the Ashes against Australia. He first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1966 under Harry Poole. This 1996 team lost the series to Australia, two Tests to one, but won the two Tests against New Zealand. Frank returned to Australia as captain of the 1970 Great Britain team and after losing the first Test 37-15 to Australia in Brisbane, won the next two, 28-7 and 21-17 to take the Ashes back to England. The 1970 team also won the three Tests against New Zealand. Frank came south for a third time in 1984, as non-playing coach of the Great Britain team. On this tour, Britain lost all three Tests to both Australia and New Zealand but won the Test against Papua/New Guinea at Mt. Hagen.

Born at Widnes on 4 December 1938, Frank was a star schoolboy player as a forward and also a top golfer, playing off a handicap of three at age 16. At 16 years of age in the 1954/55 English season, Warrington, Leigh and St. Helens showed some interest in signing him but instead he joined the local Widnes club and made his top-grade debut at five eighth on 27 December 1955 against Liverpool City at Naughton Park. Just 23 days after his 17th birthday, he scored two tries in the win. In 12 seasons with Widnes, he played 369 first team matches, scoring 144 tries. At Wembley Stadium in London before a crowd of 84,488, he scored a 56th minute try in Widnes’ 13-5 win over Hull Kingston Rovers in the Challenge Cup final. Frank’s cousin, the great Vince Karalius, was the Widnes captain/coach in 1963/64. After Widnes, Frank moved to St. Helens for four seasons from 1967/68, where he played 144 matches and scored 46 tries. With St. Helens, he won the Harry Sunderland Trophy as the man of the match in the 1969/70 win over Leeds (24-12) in the Championship Final. On 1 September 1969, he scored six tries for St. Helens against Maryport in a first round Lancashire Cup match. He then joined Rochdale Hornets as captain/coach from May 1971 to October 1974, where in 17 games, he collected nine tries. Altogether in top class English Rugby League, he played 530 games and scored 651 points, including 199 tries.

His first Test came in the very first World Cup game to be played in England. It was at Odsal Stadium at Bradford on 24 September 1960 and Great Britain beat New Zealand 23-8 with Frank scoring one of the tries. He played well in each of Great Britain’s three matches as they went on to win the 1960 World Cup. Just two days after their 10-3 win over Australia which was the last of the World Cup games, Great Britain took on a Rest of the World team at Bradford on 10 October 1960. Frank scored two tries in Britain’s 33-27 win against a side which included Australians, Brian Hambly, Ron Boden, Barry Muir, Dudley Beattie and Bill Rayner. The last of Frank’s 24 Tests for Great Britain was against Australia in the 1970 World Cup Final at Leeds on 7 November 1970, when Australia, captained by Ron Coote, won 12-7. He played nine Tests against France, eight against Australia and seven against New Zealand. He captained Great Britain in his last nine Tests and was at five eighth for seven Tests and in the centres for 17 Tests. He also played one international for England, in November 1962 in the 18-6 win against France at Leeds.

France was appointed as Great Britain coach in 1983/84 and in 11 Tests, he won five, drew one and lost five. He also coached England for one game in 1978 when they defeated Wales, 60-13. Over the years he has also coached at Widnes (1975-78), Swinton (1980) and Oldham (1981-83). A friendly, happy and active man, Frank lived in Widnes and enjoyed a round of golf well into his late 70s.

Taken at Widnes, November 2004.

Front Row from left –   JIM MILLS (6 Tests for Great Britain, 17 Tests for Wales), BARRY ROSS, FRANK MYLER (24 Tests for Great Britain), PAUL FRANKS, BOB BLACKWOOD (more than 400 games in top class English Rugby League with Widnes, Wigan, Workington, Oldham and Whitehaven), GRAEME LANGLANDS (45 Tests for Australia, 15 as captain).

Back Row Standing from left –   LAURIE MORASCHI (one game for NSW in 1965), PHIL FRANKS, SEAN SULLIVAN, BILLY BOSTON (31 Tests for Great Britain), UNKNOWN

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