Old New Zealand

...Rugby Union...

Rugby Union, if not the state religion of New Zealand, could reasonably be described as a national obsession. The All Blacks rugby team has a proud record against all comers and intense rivalries with its traditional southern hemisphere adversaries the Wallabies and the Springboks.

The origins of rugby football go back to 1823 during the annual football match between masters and students at Rugby School, England, when one William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it. Whether or not this is an accurate account of what really happened no one is really sure but in any case the story has become a part of rugby lore and in modern times teams compete in the Rugby World Cup for the "William Web Ellis Cup".

Right: Charles Monro "The Father of NZ Rugby"

On May 14, 1870 at Nelson's Botanical Reserve a game too place which is now recognized as the first game of rugby played in New Zealand. Nelson Football Club took the field against Nelson College running out the winner by 2-0. The game had been introduced by Charles Monroe, son of Sir David Monroe, speaker of the house of Representatives, who had recently returned from studying at Christ's College, London. more...

Charles Monro

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, September 22, 1875 at Dunedin's Southern Recreational Ground Oval, two teams took the field in what can be considered New Zealand's first provincial match. The visitors were an Auckland clubs side and this would be the first match of a national tour. Their opponents were a Dunedin clubs side who ran out winners by 9 and a half points to a half a point. more...

In 1888 a British Isles team toured Australia and New Zealand, although no Test matches were played. Later that year the NZ "natives" mostly comprised of Maori players toured Britain with considerable success. NZ Natives tour of 1888/89