'Originals' kick off All Black tradition

16 September 1905

All Blacks versus Midland Counties, 1905 (Alexander Turnbull Library, MNZ-1012-1/4-F)

The first fully representative New Zealand rugby team to tour the northern hemisphere was known as the ‘Originals’. They won 34 of their 35 matches and popularised both the haka and the ‘All Blacks’ nickname.

Although Australian and South African teams had successfully toured Britain in the previous few years, many in the ‘Home Countries’ still rated themselves superior players of a sport they had invented. But the All Blacks – named for the colour of their uniforms – hit the ground running, scoring 385 points in their first 10 games in England. Their opponents had managed a total of one dropped goal and one try.

Though scores fell off somewhat as they struck stronger opposition and injury, illness and fatigue took their toll, the All Blacks won 31 of their 32 games in the United Kingdom. The exception was a 3–0 loss to Wales (see 16 December). Welsh teams gave the All Blacks their toughest games: the three top clubs were beaten by a combined score of 20 points to 14.