Events In History


Natives' Rugby Tour, 1888-89

  • Natives' Rugby Tour, 1888-89

    The title of 'The Originals' was bestowed on the next New Zealand rugby team to tour Britain, that of 1905-6, but even though it was soon forgotten, the Natives' tour was to have enduring significance for New Zealand rugby and society.

    Read the full article

  • Page 2 – Rugby in 1888

    The rugby played by the Natives was different from the game we know today.

  • Page 3 – Maori and rugby

    In 1872, 'Wirihana' became the first recorded Maori rugby player when he turned out for Wanganui

  • Page 4 – Preparations

    In the absence of any body regulating the game in New Zealand, Eyton was free to promote a tour of Britain as a private venture

  • Page 5 – The 'Noble Maori' arrive

    After playing nine matches in New Zealand and two in Melbourne in the southern winter of 1888 (with only two losses), the Natives set off for Britain by steamer.

  • Page 6 – Daily routines

    Between their first and last matches in Britain, the Natives played on average every 2.3 days.

  • Page 7 – Unsporting behaviour?

    Although hacking and tripping had been banned in the 1870s to make the game safe enough to appeal to gentlemen, rugby remained dangerous.

  • Page 8 – Natives and northerners

    In 1888 the gentlemen who ran the Rugby Union (and the Empire) were based in southern England, and the England test was played in London. Yet the playing strength of the

  • Page 9 – Rugby and society

    What effect did the Natives' tour have on rugby and wider New Zealand society? It showed that New Zealanders could compete on equal terms with representatives of the imperial

  • Page 10 – Matches played

    Games and scores Total (rugby games only): played 107: won 78, drew 6, lost 23 Points for: 772; Points against: 305 In Britain: played 74: W49, D5, L20 Points for: 394; Points

  • Page 11 – Further information

    This web feature was written by David Green and produced by the team. Books

Sport, 1940-1960

  • Sport, 1940-1960

    The mid-century decades brought more mass participation in sport, the consolidation of many national competitions, and greater achievement at international level.

    Read the full article

  • Page 1 - Sport in New Zealand 1940-1960 The mid-century decades brought more mass participation in sport, the consolidation of many national competitions, and greater achievement at international

1981 Springbok tour

  • 1981 Springbok tour

    For 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. The cause of this was the visit of the South African rugby team – the Springboks.

    Read the full article

  • Page 2 – All Blacks versus Springboks

    Since rugby went professional in 1995 countries like Australia, England and France have challenged New Zealand and South Africa's claims to be the two powerhouses of world

  • Page 3 – Politics and sport

    South Africa's apartheid policies and attitudes created obvious problems for New Zealand rugby, given the prominence of Māori in the sport.

  • Page 4 – Stopping the 1973 tour

    Keeping sport and politics separate was becoming increasingly difficult. In July 1969 HART (Halt All Racist Tours) was founded by University of Auckland students with the

  • Page 5 – Gleneagles Agreement

    The All Blacks accepted an invitation to tour South Africa in 1976, when world attention was fixed on the republic because of the Soweto riots.

  • Page 6 – Battle lines are drawn

    Tour supporters were determined that the first Springbok visit to New Zealand since 1965 would not be spoiled. The anti-tour movement was equally determined to show its

  • Page 7 – Tour diary

    Select itinerary of the 1981 tour by the Springbok rugby team.

  • Page 8 – Impact

    In Hamilton the protesters occupying the pitch had chanted 'The whole world is watching'. The same applied to New Zealand as a nation. Some believed the tour was an opportunity

1987 Rugby World Cup

  • 1987 Rugby World Cup

    In a country where rugby became a surrogate for religion, hosting and then winning the first Rugby World Cup was a big deal. The story of how the tournament came about mixes the worlds of sport, politics and money.

    Read the full article

  • Page 2 – Origins of international rugby

    Before the 1987 Rugby World Cup and the professional era, rugby prided itself on extolling the virtues of friendly rivalry.

  • Page 3 – The long road to the cup

    There were many obstacles along the road to the first Rugby World Cup.

  • Page 4 – Organising the tournament

    The Rugby World Cup was set to take place in May or June 1987, and two venues in Australia and eight in New Zealand would hold games.

  • Page 5 – A world cup at last

    With the staging of the Rugby World Cup, rugby had established itself as a commercial market, and the financial viability of the world cup concept was assured.

  • Page 6 – Further information

    This web feature was written by David Green and produced by the team. Links The 1987 Rugby World Cup includes match statistics for all games

Regional rugby

Māori rugby timeline

  • Māori rugby timeline

    This timeline covers some of the key events and major players in the history of Māori rugby. It was compiled to mark the centenary of the first official New Zealand Māori team.

    Read the full article

  • Page 2 – Further information

    Links and books for further reading about Maori rugby

Life in the 20th century

  • Life in the 20th century

    Exploration of everyday life in New Zealand from 1900 to the mid-1980s

    Read the full article

  • Page 6 - AppearancesWe present ourselves to the world by the way we dress and wear our hair. Whether we have carefully selected from a full wardrobe or simply grabbed the first thing at hand, our


  • Gallaher, David

    Dave Gallaher was captain of the 1905 ‘Originals’ rugby team, the first to be known as the All Blacks. His death while fighting overseas during the First World War ensured that he acquired a mystique that transcended sport.

  • Ellison, Thomas Rangiwahia

    Tom Ellison was captain of NZ's first official rugby team in 1893. He invented the wing forward position and in 1903 wrote one of the game's first coaching manuals.

  • Warbrick, Joseph Astbury

    Joe Warbrick was the captain, coach and selector for the New Zealand Natives' tour of Britain in 1888-89, the first New Zealand representative rugby team to tour beyond Australia.

  • Meads, Colin Earl

    In 1999 Colin Meads was named as New Zealand's Player of the Century and the International Rugby Hall of Fame rated him ‘the most famous forward in world rugby throughout the 1960s’.

  • Monro, Charles John

    Nelson-born Charles Monro was credited with introducing rugby to New Zealand.

  • Nēpia, George

    George Nēpia is considered to be one of New Zealand rugby’s finest players. He played all 32 matches for the famous 1924-25 ‘Invincibles’ on their tour of the British Isles, France and Canada.

  • Lochore, Brian James

    Wairarapa born and bred, Brian James (BJ) Lochore won distinction as a player and administrator at school, club, provincial and national level.

  • Allen, Frederick Richard

    Described as an ‘immaculate player’, Allen went on to become the most successful All Black coach ever.

  • Whineray, Wilson James

    The great New Zealand rugby writer T.P. McLean declared ‘unhesitatingly’ that Wilson (‘Noddy’) Whineray was New Zealand’s ‘greatest captain’.

  • Alley, Geoffrey Thomas

    Geoffrey Alley was an All Black lock and a farmer, and then became involved in adult education and library services.

  • Asher, Albert

    Albert Asher was a dual international rugby union and rugby league player.

  • Asher, Ernest Te Kepa

    Ernie Asher was a prominent Māori rugby league player and sports administrator

  • Lomu, Jonah

    Jonah Lomu (1975-2015) was the first – and remains the only – rugby player to achieve worldwide fame.


Related keywords

Images and media for rugby