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.
Australian and South African teams had toured Britain with considerable success in the previous few years, but many in the ‘Home Countries’ still saw themselves as superior players of a sport they had invented. But with their fitness intact after the long voyage from New Zealand, the All Blacks – given the name at this time because of the colour of their uniforms – hit the ground running, scoring an unprecedented 385 points in their first ten games in England. Their opponents had managed one dropped goal and one try between them.
Though scores fell off somewhat as injury, illness and fatigue took their toll, and the All Blacks struck stronger opposition, 31 of the 32 games in the United Kingdom were won. The exception was a 3–0 loss to Wales, in which Bob Deans (great-uncle of the current Wallabies coach) may have been denied a late equalising try by a portly referee unable to keep up with the play. Welsh teams gave the All Blacks their toughest games: the three top clubs were beaten by a combined score of just 20 points to 14.
Image: 1905/06 All Black team (DNZB)