Rugby’s been a bit of a feature in my father’s side of the family, but I didn’t realise how far back until I came across this photo including my great grandfather Peter. It’s from the Weekend Star’s “Pictures from the past – 100 years of rugby in Canterbury” in 1979. I’m wondering if the game itself was notable is some way (apart from the loss), or was it simply because the newspaper couldn’t find any other photos from that era?
Set for action… the combined Canterbury-South Canterbury team (left) about to tackle New South Wales-Queensland at Lancaster Park in 1905. The home players (from left) are: S. Turtill, J. Weston (captain) F. Fryer, D. Horgan, G. Chambers, P. Gaffney [sic], F. Carlton, C. Pearce, P. Burns, G. Gray, W. J. Walter, L. Murray, A. E. Love, D. Fraser. The local combined side lost 3-5.1
1905 was an important year for New Zealand rugby – it was the first time a national team had toured outside of Australasia. They left home as The New Zealand Football Team (or The New Zealanders for short), and returned as legends with the name “All Blacks”. Of the thirty-five matches they played, in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and North America, they lost only one – a controversial defeat to Wales. The team are now known as The Original All Blacks (or The Originals).2
I can’t find the date of my great grandfather’s match, but I’m guessing it would be during the usual mid-year winter season. The national team were involved in pre-tour matches before heading off to England on 20 July 1905, missing most of the playing season in New Zealand. Comparing the list of players from the newspaper clipping, and the list of players from Canterbury in the national touring team, there are no overlaps. So maybe players that might not have had a chance before, got to play for their provincial team in that season? I wonder how long my great grandfather played in the team?
Perhaps I should ask someone who knows something about rugby and its history?
- “1905″, Pictures from the past – 100 years of rugby in Canterbury, Weekend Star, June 9, 1979, p.29; digital image, scan from Gaffaney family papers, 2006, supplied by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; original privately held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE].
- Wikipedia, “The Original All Blacks”, article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Original_All_Blacks : accessed 26 Mar 2011).