Events In History
20 June 1987All Blacks win the first World Cup
With Michael Jones, John Kirwan and captain David Kirk scoring tries, the All Blacks defeated France 29-9 at Eden Park, Auckland. Kirk became the first captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup. Read more...
12 September 1981'Flour-bomb test' ends Springbok tour
The third and deciding test at Eden Park, Auckland, is perhaps best remembered for the flares and flour bombs dropped onto the pitch from a light plane. Outside the ground, violence erupted on an unprecedented scale. Read more...
29 July 1981Police baton anti-tour protestors near Parliament
Up to 2000 anti-Springbok tour protesters were confronted by police who used batons to stop them marching up Molesworth St to the home of South Africa's Consul to New Zealand. Read more...
25 July 1981Anti-Springbok protestors derail Hamilton match
350 anti-tour demonstrators invaded Rugby Park in Hamilton, forcing the abandonment of the Springboks-Waikato match. Rugby supporters pelted the protesters with bottles and scuffles broke out. Read more...
11 November 1978Andy Haden dive saves rugby test
With two minutes to play in a rugby test match against Wales, All Black lock Andy Haden flung himself sideways as if in a C-grade action movie to secure a match-winning penalty Read more...
10 April 1973Labour government cancels Springbok rugby tour
Following police warnings of civil strife, Prime Minister Norman Kirk informed the New Zealand Rugby Football Union that the government saw ‘no alternative’ to a 'postponement' of the planned tour by the South African Springboks. Read more...
10 May 1960All-white All Blacks leave for South Africa
The slogan ‘No Maoris − No Tour’ fell on deaf ears and this controversial rugby tour went ahead. The issue of sporting ties with South Africa was to split the country in devastating fashion in 1981. Read more...
3 June 1936Colin 'Pinetree' Meads born
The legendary All Black lock was a physically tough, uncompromising player. Rugby writer Lindsay Knight described Colin Meads as New Zealand's equivalent of Australia's Sir Donald Bradman or American Babe Ruth as a sporting legend. Read more...
9 August 1930George Nepia plays last All Blacks test
Nepia was one of the stars of the 1924-5 All Blacks, playing in all 32 matches on the team's tour of the British Isles, France and Canada. He played the last of his nine tests in 1930, against the British Lions. Read more...
7 September 1921Springboks play NZ Maoris for first time
‘Bad enough having play team officially designated New Zealand Natives’, a South African journalist wrote in a report of the match played between the Springboks and a New Zealand Maori XV at Napier. Read more...
16 December 1905All Blacks' non-try hands Wales historic win
A great rugby rivalry was born when a last-minute try to All Black Bob Deans was disallowed, handing the Welsh victory. The incident remains a source of debate amongst rugby fans of both nations. Read more...
16 September 1905'Originals' kick off All Black tradition
The first fully representative New Zealand rugby team to tour the Northern Hemisphere was known as the 'Originals'. Winning 34 of the 35 matches they played, they popularised both the haka and the 'All Blacks' nickname. Read more...
16 April 1892NZ Rugby Union founded
As rugby increased in popularity, it became more important to standardise the running of the game in the colony. Despite some opposition, a New Zealand Rugby Football Union was founded. Read more...
3 October 1888NZ Natives team plays first game in UK
Privately organised and mainly Māori, this was the first national rugby team to wear the silver fern. During their tour of New Zealand, Australia and Britain, they played 107 rugby matches, nine under Australian rules, and two association football games. Read more...
28 April 1888First British rugby team to play in NZ
The first British rugby team to tour New Zealand won its first match, against Otago at the Caledonian Ground in South Dunedin. Read more...
22 May 1884First NZ Rugby team in action
The first representative New Zealand rugby team played its first match, defeating a Wellington XV 9-0 before embarking on a tour of New South Wales. Read more...
14 May 1870First game of rugby played in NZ
Around 200 people were on hand at Nelson’s Botanic Reserve to watch a new version of rugby football brought to New Zealand by Charles Monro. Read more...
Page 1 – New Zealand Natives' rugby tour of 1888-9
Discover how the side originally called New Zealand Maori came to be known as the NZ Natives. In 1888, the country's pioneering national sports team toured Britain, playing their first game of rugby on 3 October.
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 NZHistory.net.nz team. Books
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 level.
- 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
Page 1 – The 1981 Springbok rugby 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
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 firmly fixed on the republic because of the Soweto riots.
Page 6 – Battle lines are drawn
The 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 protestors 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
Page 1 – The 1987 Rugby World Cup
In a country where rugby is often referred to as a religion, hosting and winning the first Rugby World Cup was a big deal. The story of how the tournament came about mixes the
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 1 – Regional rugby
The passion and parochialism of provincial rugby has helped to give the game a special place in New Zealand’s social and sporting history. Read brief histories, highlights and
Page 2 – Overview
General overview of regional rugby in New Zealand, including timeline and table showing changes in points allocation for scoring
Page 3 – Provincial competitions
Overview of the Ranfurly Shield, the National Provincial Championship and other regional rugby competitions
Page 4 – Northland rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Northland region
Page 5 – North Harbour rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the North Harbour region
Page 6 – Auckland rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Auckland region
Page 7 – Counties Manukau rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Counties Manukau region
Page 8 – Waikato rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Waikato region
Page 9 – Thames Valley rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Thames valley region
Page 11 – King Country rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the King Country region
Page 12 – Taranaki rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Taranaki region
Page 13 – East Coast rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the East Coast region
Page 14 – Poverty Bay rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Poverty Bay region
Page 16 – Whanganui rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Whanganui region
Page 18 – Horowhenua-Kapiti rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Horowhenua region
Page 19 – Wairarapa rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Wairarapa region
Page 20 – Wellington rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Wellington region
Page 22 – Tasman rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Tasman region
Page 21 – Buller rugby
Highlights from Buller rugby history
Page 23 – West Coast rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the West Coast region
Page 24 – Canterbury rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Canterbury region
Page 25 – Mid Canterbury rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Mid Canterbury region
Page 26 – South Canterbury rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the South Canterbury region
Page 27 – North Otago rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the North Otago region
Page 28 – Otago rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Otago region
Page 29 – Southland rugby
History and highlights of rugby in the Southland region
Page 30 – Best year ever?
Join the debate about the best year in the history of your region's rugby team
Page 1 – 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
- Page 1 - Māori rugby timelineThis 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
Page 6 – Appearances
We 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
- 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
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.Read more...
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.Read more...
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.Read more...
Meads, Colin Earle
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.’Read more...
Monro, Charles John
The man credited with introducing rugby to New Zealand is the Nelson-born Charles Monro.Read more...
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.Read more...
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.Read more...
Allen, Frederick Richard
Described as an ‘immaculate player’, Allen went on to become the most successful All Black coach ever.Read more...
Whineray, Wilson James
The great New Zealand rugby writer T.P. McLean declared ‘unhesitatingly’ that Wilson (‘Noddy’) Whineray was New Zealand’s ‘greatest captain’.Read more...
Alley, Geoffrey Thomas
Geoffrey Alley was an All Black lock and a farmer, and then became involved in adult education and library services.Read more...
Albert Asher was a dual international rugby union and rugby league player.Read more...
Asher, Ernest Te Kepa
Ernie Asher was a prominent Māori rugby league player and sports administratorRead more...
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