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Recording the History of Rugby Football

Carl Mullen signing a ball for a young boy


The aim of this web site is to record the history of Rugby Union Football and make it available online for educational purposes, The web site has been featured by the BBC, Rugby World, The Guardian, US Public Radio's Rugby Hour and a variety of other newspapers and publications. The web site is growing all the time so check back regularly and see what's been added. By all means, send in your thoughts, questions and suggestions for how we can continue to improve the web site.


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New Zealand in record win over South Africa

September 16th, 2017

World champions New Zealand ran in eight tries as they thumped South Africa 57-0 in Auckland, their biggest winning margin against the Springboks.

New Zealand: (31) 57
Tries: Ioane, Milner-Skudder 2, S Barrett, Retallick, Tu'ungafasi, Sopoaga, Taylor; Pen: B Barrett; Cons: B Barrett 7

South Africa: (0) 0

New Zealand win fifth World Cup title

August 26th, 2017

The Black Ferns won a pulsating Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 final 41 - 32 against defending champions England to be crowned world champions for the fifth time.

England: Scarratt, Thompson, Jones, Burford, Wilson, Mclean, Hunt; Cornborough, Cokayne, Bern, Scott, Taylor, Matthews, Packer, Hunter (c).

Replacements: Fleetwood, Clark, Lucas, Millar-Mills, Noel-Smith, Mason, Reed, Wilson-Hardy.

New Zealand: Winiata, Woodman, Waaka, Brazier, Wickliffe, Subritzky-Nafatali, Cocksedge; Natua, Faamausili (c), Itunu, Blackwell, Smith, McMenamin, Goss, Savage.
Replacements: Ngata-Aerengamate, Talawadua, Nelson, Wood, Ketu, Sue, Fitzpatrick, Hohepa.

New Zealand 2017 WRWC Champions


Australia 19-24 Scotland

June 16th, 2017

Scotland recorded their first win in Australia in five years to return to fifth in the World Rugby rankingswith a 24-19 victory in Sydney.

Australia (12) 19
Tries: Folau 2 Genia, Cons: Foley 2
Scotland (17) 24
Tries: Taylor, Russell, Watson Cons: Russell 3, Pens: Tonks


England Women Complete the Grand Slam

England Women beat Ireland 34-7 to complete the grand slam.

15 in a row for England

England surpassed the national record set by Sir Clive Woodward's 2003 World Cup winners as they recorded their 15th win in a row by beating France.

The run began in Stuart Lancaster's final game in charge, a 60-3 win over Uruguay, before Eddie Jones took over and led the side to a Grand Slam, a whitewash victory in Australia, an unbeaten run in the autumn internationals and now victory over France in the 2017 Six Nations.

Camille Grassineau scores first try in Olympic women’s rugby

Camille Grassineau of France scored the first try in the history of Olympic women’s rugby sevens


World Rugby Celebrates Olympic Day

The global rugby family has joined the international sporting community in celebrating #OlympicDay as excitement builds ahead of rugby sevens' Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016.
With 43 days to go until the Games, preparations are on track for very special and successful rugby sevens events and World Rugby has been leading the #OlympicDay celebrations across the rugby family as players and fans alike express their excitement.

With a record number of one million children getting into rugby in 2015, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will provide a golden opportunity for rugby to reach, engage and inspire new participants and fans to get active and have fun through rugby.

To mark Olympic Day, World Rugby has launched its This is Rugby Sevens educational video and updated Rugby Builds Character videos in four languages to share with and engage and inspire the global rugby family.


England clinch historic series win in Australia with 23-7 Melbourne victory

England produced a heroic defensive display to earn their first series win in Australia with victory in the second Test in Melbourne.

England took a 10-0 lead through Dylan Hartley's try and an Owen Farrell conversion and penalty but Australia hit back via Stephen Moore's try. Farrell's second penalty gave England a six-point lead in the second half. They then had to survive relentless Australian attacks before Farrell crossed to wrap up victory late on. England, who won the first Test 39-28, will head to Sydney for the third and final Test with an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

Dylan Hartley drove over from a line-out to score England's first try in Melbourne (Credit Getty)


Jonah Lomu dies aged 40

November 17th, 2015

1995 world cup vs England (Photo credit Getty)

rugbyfootballhistory is sad to report that Jonah Lomu has passed, our deepest sympathy to his family and friends everywhere. Rugby bows its head to one of its greats.

History making at RWC2015 - Japan beats South Africa

September 19th, 2015

Japan coach Eddie Jones "It's quite incredible. We thought we could compete but to beat South Africa is a fantastic achievement for the team and it's a great day for Japanese rugby. Japan can only play one way, we've got a little team, so we have to move the ball around and cause problems.

Today is just the start. The target now is to make the quarter-finals and we have got Scotland in four days' time so we cannot rest on our laurels.

If you are a child in Japan you will watch this and you will want to play rugby for Japan in the next World Cup."


Sexton and McCaw champion global player welfare through IRPA Presidency

August 20th, 2015

The International Rugby Players Association (IRPA) today announced the appointments of Johnny Sexton and Richie McCaw as the inaugural President’s for North and President South respectively.

As two of the most recognised and respected players from around the world, both are seen as ideally placed to oversee and represent the collective voice of their fellow players from around the globe.
Both players are passionate about making a difference on issues of international importance to the players and the game. Sexton and McCaw will take an active part on various IRPA Player Advisory Groups and will use their expert opinion and stature to build on the collaborative relationship with World Rugby, the international Governing Body.

Speaking on their appointments the players said;

“IRPA represents the elite player’s interests at a global level, it is fundamental to the success of the game that our playing environments and welfare provisions allow us to compete to the best of our ability. It is with this in mind that I am delighted and honoured to be the IRPA’s President North. I congratulate Richie and look forward to working with him in the exciting year ahead. ” - Johnny Sexton – Ireland (President North)

“I’m delighted to be recognised as IRPA’s first President South. To be invited to work alongside Johnny on behalf of the 4,000 professional rugby players throughout the world is a real honour. As players we are in a unique and privileged position to help mould the future of our great game. In doing this it is our responsibility to work with the administration of the game in an organised and professional manner, with the integrity of our sport and welfare of our people foremost in our minds.” - Richie McCaw – New Zealand (President South)

IRPA Chairman Damian Hopley welcomed both appointments:
“IRPA believes that the game needs modern day professionals who are prepared to stand up for what is right for the welfare of their players and future of the professional game. I have no doubt that Johnny and Richie’s leadership and standing in the game will make an immense difference in assisting and advising our  organisation going forward. By sharing best practise across the member Associations, we will continue to strive to enhance the welfare and working conditions of players across the globe.”

Richie McCaw becomes the most capped player in Test history

August 15th, 2015

McCaw, 34, led the side out at Eden Park as he overtook Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll's record of 141 caps.

Bledisloe Cup: New Zealand v Australia

New Zealand: (13) 41
Tries: Coles, Penalty, Nonu 2, Smith Pens: Carter 2 Cons: Carter 5

Australia: (6) 13
Tries: Folau Pens: Cooper 2

The 100th Match- England v France

August 15th, 2015

The first Anglo-French rugby union match was held on March 22, 1906 at Parc des Princes in Paris.

The traditional name for the annual England versus France rugby union match in the Six Nations Championship as used on both sides of the English Channel is Le Crunch, used since at least 1981. Prior to the game England had played France on 99 occasions, England winning 54, France 38 and 7 matches had been drawn. Overall, England had scored 1,553 points, and France 1,230.

England beat France in the RWC walm up game 19 - 14.

England (12) 19
Tries: Watson 2, May Cons: Farrell 2

France (9) 14
Try: Ouedraogo Pens: Parra 3

Chris Robshaw and Thierry Dusautoir discussing the history of the fixture here

Australia win the 2015 Rugby Championship

August 8th, 2015

Australia win a shortened Rugby Championship ahead of the RWC with a 27-19 victory over the All Blacks.

The All Blacks had previously won every Rugby Championship since the expansion to four teams in 2012, but were outscored three tries to two by their hosts in a thrilling contest at ANZ Stadium.

This is Australia's first title since claiming the Tri-Nations in 2011.

see full results list and table

British and Irish Lions announce 2017 New Zealand tour schedule

July 10th, 2015

The British and Irish Lions will play two Tests in Auckland on their 10-match tour of New Zealand in 2017.

All midweek fixtures will take place on a Tuesday apart from the match against the Blues, which takes place on Wednesday, 7 June.

2017 British and Irish Lions tour fixtures:

  • 3 June - Provincial union team (Toll Stadium, Whangarei)
  • 7 June - Blues (Eden Park, Auckland)
  • 10 June - Crusaders (AMI Stadium, Christchurch)
  • 13 June - Highlanders (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
  • 17 June - Maori (International Stadium, Rotorua)
  • 20 June - Chiefs (Waikato Stadium, Hamilton)
  • 24 June - New Zealand (First Test, Eden Park, Auckland)
  • 27 June - Hurricanes (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
  • 1 July - New Zealand (Second Test, Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
  • 8 July - New Zealand (Third Test, Eden Park, Auckland).

365 Day countdown to 2015 RWC Started with a kick

September 18th, 2014

Jonny Wilkinson and Prince Harry kicked off the 365 day countdown at Rugby School © Getty Images

With one year to go to Rugby World Cup 2015, Prince Harry has been appointed as Honorary President of England Rugby 2015, the organising committee delivering Rugby World Cup 2015.

Prince Harry is a keen Rugby fan, and Vice Patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU). In his role as Honorary President of England Rugby 2015, the Prince will play an important role in welcoming the 20 qualifying nations to Rugby World Cup 2015. 

To mark the one year to go milestone, the Prince took part in an exclusive photo shoot with Rugby World Cup 2003 winner and England Rugby 2015 Ambassador Jonny Wilkinson.

England Win Women's Rugby World Cup

August 17th

After a 20 year gap, England win the WRWC after beating a valiant Canadian team 21 - 9.

England World Champions 2014

Innovative Rugby World Cup 2015 Match XV Ball Launched

Innovation and tradition is at the heart of MATCH XV, the official Rugby World Cup 2015 match ball, launched by suppliers Gilbert.

Read more

Gold Award For Rugby Town In Visit England Hall Of Fame

April 2014

Rugby's place in history as the birthplace of the game has secured the town a gold award in Visit England's prestigious Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame launches today - St George's Day - at a free, open-air exhibition at Observation Point on London's Southbank.

Earlier this year the tourist board invited the public to submit suggestions of England's best contributions to the world, and what makes it a great place to visit and explore.

Suggestions were split into a number of categories, including History and Heritage, Inventions and Discoveries, Culture and Entertainment, and Sport and Leisure.

Over 1,000 suggestions were submitted, which were whittled down to 60 by a panel of experts, including Visit England chairman, Lady Cobham, and chief executive, James Berresford.

The 60 suggestions - ten in each category - then faced a public vote before the top three in each category were awarded bronze, silver and gold awards.

Rugby topped the vote in the Sport and Leisure category, winning gold and taking a place in the Hall of Fame.

The town joins The Beatles, who won gold in Culture and Entertainment, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who took gold in the Inventions and Discoveries category, and the sandwich, winner of gold in the Food and Drink category, in the celebration of England's claims to fame.

William Shakespeare was the People's Choice, with the Bard securing the most votes from the public.

Simon Gardner, manager of Rugby Visitor Centre, said: "We're delighted Rugby has taken a gold award in Visit England's Hall of Fame, promoting our place in history as the birthplace of the game to a global audience.

"We're ready to welcome thousands of visitors to the town ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup, and this recognition from Visit England and the public throws the spotlight on our unique contribution to both England's history and the sporting world."

For more information about Visit England's Hall of Fame,

A NEW heritage trail celebrating Llanelli's great rugby history has been unveiled.

The focus of the new heritage trail project based at Parc y Scarlets is to inspire, safeguard and promote the heritage and history of Scarlets rugby and its intrinsic links with the town and further afield. It aims to inspire young people to culture and legacy of the region and the Scarlets.

Among the hundreds of guests present were former Llanelli greats Terry Davies and the Scarlets' oldest living international Peter Rees.

Officially opening the trail, BBC news anchor Huw Edwards said:

"This Heritage Project is a fantastic step forward, not just for this great club — a club that I like to talk about wherever I am in the world — but a great step forward for this town.

"I'm a strong believer in celebrating our heritage. The game of rugby is such a significant contributor to what we are today, it would be wrong not to celebrate it in this creative and prominent way. Well done and congratulations to everyone who's been involved. There's a vision behind this project, I applaud that vision, and it's a great vision to have. You are taking pride in the past and without taking pride in the past you can't face the future with confidence."

The trail was made possible with support from Heritage Lottery Fund, Visit Wales and Carmarthenshire Council.

There will be a walk through centre at Parc y Scarlets, which will provide a range of learning opportunities and experiences from 1872 onwards using audio, visual and interactive software to tell the story of Llanelli and its rugby club.

The opening came on a momentous day for the club, exactly five years on from when the 15,000 capacity Pemberton stadium was officially opened and the club beat the world-famous Barbarians 40-24.

Dr Madeleine Harvard from Heritage Lottery Fund added: "Sport, and in particular rugby, has played a central role in helping to define Wales as a nation. There have been many notable successes for Llanelli RFC during its long and distinguished history, which are now available for the public to revel in for the very first time. When we awarded the grant we were impressed by the quality of the interpretation and the range of volunteering activities that were planned. We are delighted to see this vision come alive with the creation of the heritage trail and supported by the volunteer guides who will be sharing their passion for Scarlets rugby."

Read more:

Integrated Global Rugby Season is a possibility – IRPA

9th July, 2013

Rugby players are calling on the Game’s leaders to renew efforts to develop an integrated global rugby season that addresses long standing player welfare and competition challenges.

The International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA) - the worldwide representative body for professional rugby players - held a conference in Australia recently and considered the possibility of moving the June test match window until the last three weeks of July, beginning in 2016.

The move would see Northern Hemisphere club competitions starting a month later, enabling more of their domestic competitions to be played after the Christmas break, potentially provide more breathing space for their respective finals series’ and improving player availability for test matches.

In the South the change could do away with Super Rugby’s month-long break and allow players an extended  pre-season, something that has been sought for years.

"We're in a unique position - for the first time since rugby went professional, the major Northern and Southern Hemisphere competition and commercial structures are on the table at the same time," IRPA Chairman Damian Hopley explained.  "This is the ideal time to seriously consider change that will secure player welfare initiatives."

The 2016 timing is important, as the 2015 Rugby World Cup will put significant pressure on the season structures of Northern Hemisphere leagues. Mid-week rounds have already been mooted, putting pressure on spectator numbers, club revenues and negatively impacting on player welfare.

The idea would also see the British & Irish Lions from the 2017 series in New Zealand onwards touring in a clear window after Super Rugby, with an improved ability to deliver full strength mid-week games. Existing windows for RWC, Six Nations, Rugby Championship, the November Tests and provincial competitions would not require any change.

IRPA is now asking SANZAR, Premiership Rugby, the French clubs, The Celtic League, IRB and the Six Nations to come together and open their minds to the potential benefits of change, and what that may look like.

Not surprisingly, the proposal is gaining support from professional players.

"If the Game’s leaders give this idea, or a variation of it, serious consideration it could be a game-changer for professional rugby," World Cup-winning All Black captain Richie McCaw said. "It would be fantastic to address this long standing season structure debate once and for all, the players and the game would be so much better for it."

McCaw's sentiments are fully endorsed by Ireland and Lions playmaker Johnny Sexton, who is confident a breakthrough can be found through meaningful dialogue.

"We see this initiative as beneficial for the global game" Sexton said.  “From a player perspective, we urge our leaders to get in a room together, take a positive attitude and see what can be done.”

There are also potential spin-offs for Tier Two rugby nations. Planning for their fixtures in the test windows could be done well in advance, enhancing their ability to access their players.

Premiership Rugby are believed to be supportive of the proposal and preliminary discussions have already started with some National Unions.

IRPA Executive Director Rob Nichol said the players are all extremely motivated to play a constructive role in now getting the key parties together.

“This is a rare opportunity for greater alignment of the season structures in the two Hemispheres” said Nichol “and it is essential we use these discussions to achieve positive change for players, supporters and commercial partners.”

“We focused on what we felt was feasible and what would make a significant improvement and this integrated global rugby season, moving the June test window to the last three weeks in July, was what emerged.”

“We will now focus on getting the key parties together in the coming weeks to progress discussions urgently.”

South African Rugby Union Rugby Museum to Re-open

Following the closure of the Newlands Rugby Museum the SA Rugby Union (SARU) has announced plans for a new Springbok Experience Museum due to open in September at the waterfront in Cape Town. SARU said the Experience would tell the story of rugby in South Africa from the 1860s, as well as the 'traditional' Springbok story, including that of black rugby players and administrators.

Mather & Co was appointed to work on the project at the start of the year, and selected over South African and international consultancies. It has been tasked with developing a new ‘home’ for South African rugby, on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. The new museum will replace what Andy Colquhoun, general manager of corporate affairs at SARU, describes as ‘a small-scale, tired and dated museum’.

The new museum, which will be set in a two-storey standalone building, will feature a retail area and an interactive game zone on the ground floor. Visitors will be able to pass and kick rugby balls, and use their tickets to record their scores.

The first-floor area will be devoted entirely to the museum, and will feature displays looking at how rugby spread throughout South Africa, as well as a section on the Apartheid era and its effect on the game.

Sarah Clarke, Mather & Co designer on the project, says, ‘Rugby is a very important part of South Africa, almost like a religion.’

The museum will also feature a match centre with player statistics, so that players can be compared with each other.

Draw Held For RWC 2015

The draw was held in London on December 3rd, 2012.

Click the diagram for more information.

New Zealand Break with Tradition

New Zealand sign a 5 1/2 year shirt sponsorship deal with AIG. Now only France remains without a shirt sponsor.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said: "This is a great day for New Zealand rugby. This is an exciting new partnership that will further secure the future of rugby at all levels in this country and pave the way for our game to reach new fans around the world. Today's announcement is a game changer for New Zealand rugby. New Zealand rugby was already benefitting from the most valuable sponsorship in the rugby world through its partnership with adidas. To the best of our knowledge, the partnership with AIG is the second most valuable rugby sponsorship. We have new and ambitious goals, including winning gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with men's and women's sevens, so it's vital we have sponsors like AIG and adidas backing us over the long term. This new partnership will significantly strengthen our ability to maintain New Zealand rugby's edge in the competitive world in which we operate."

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said: "It's really flattering that a company this big has chosen New Zealand rugby to be its cornerstone sponsorship. It shows incredible respect for our traditions, heritage and record of success across all our teams."

Book Review: Nice Try!

I would highly recommend a read of 'Nice Try' by d'Arcy Orders. The author takes you on a journey to meet rugby characters from his past and they become larger than life as, one by one, they are introduced to you. If you're like me and read a lot of rugby books, this will make a very pleasent change. Available via Amazon.

Sir Fred Allen Dies aged 92

Rugby legend Sir Fred Allen has died.

Weighing 12st 6lb (79kg) and standing 5'10" (1.78m) Fred Allen, equally at home at first or second five eight, was an outstanding player and an equally outstanding coach.

Born in Oamaru in 1920, Sir Fred went on to captain 21 matches for the All Blacks, debuting against Australia in Dunedin in 1946 after serving in the war.

As coach of the All Blacks Sir Fred enjoyed tremendous success in winning all 14 Tests played from 1966 to 1968.

Rugby in China

When Briton Simon Drakeford learned a man with his family name played rugby for Shanghai in 1907, it sent him on a journey to document the history of the sport in China.

The mission took him from musty newspapers in the Shanghai library to the archives of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in London and interviews with descendants of former players.

In doing so, he found that the rise of rugby, its demise after the Communists took power in 1949 and its revival as Shanghai became an international city again in the 1990s, mirrored the history of China itself.

His namesake Thomas Drakeford, who travelled to Shanghai as a merchant in the early 1900s, turned out not to be a relative.

But the research led to the discovery that when the Shanghai rugby club takes to the field today, players are fulfilling a historical legacy stretching back to the late 1800s, shortly after the Chinese port city opened to the West after the Opium War.

"When you're playing for Shanghai, you have the burden of history on your back," said Drakeford, 47, a life-long rugby player  now living in Shanghai.

Simon Drakeford
British accountant, rugby player and amateur historian Simon Drakeford with early Shanghai rugby memorabilia in his home in Shanghai. When Drakeford learned a man with his family name played rugby for Shanghai in 1907, it sent him on a journey to document the history of the sport in China.

(reblog: Credit - Bangkok Post)


South African Rugby to go Digital

March 26th, 2012

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has embarked on a major project to digitally capture the game’s written record. The union has requested proposals from specialist companies to begin a process that could take several years to complete.

SARU on Monday announced its intention to scan and digitally archive what will eventually be more than a century’s worth of correspondence, minutes, reports, contracts, manuals, scrap books and photographs as part of an innovative new approach to the game’s heritage.

“Rugby’s written record is so vast that the official record is dispersed in different repositories across the country,” said Andy Colquhoun, SARU GM: Corporate Affairs. “The plan is to begin to digitally capture that record in one ‘electronic’ location, both as an historical but also as an operational resource. It is a massive task and will have to be phased over a number of years before it can be completed.”

Colquhoun said the priority would be to first capture the records of the post-1992 South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) and its successors, SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd and SARU, before work could begin on the pre-1992 record of the different national rugby unions in South Africa.

SARU plans to make the key documents available to the public through a web-based virtual library as well as creating a searchable archive for SARU staff to increase operational efficiency.

“Rather like eating the proverbial elephant, you can only do it one bite at a time,” said Colquhoun. “It’s a significant challenge but we will take a phased approach and we expect to see significant advantages in due course.”

South African Rugby Museum is Homeless

The South African rugby museum, based in Newlands in Cape Town, has closed pending relocation. The collection of artefacts, jerseys, images, documents and books will go into storage until new premises can be found.

“The museum is overdue a revamp to make it more interactive, more relevant and more reflective of the diverse history of rugby among all communities in South Africa,” said Jurie Roux, chief executive officer of SARU.

“It has remained largely unchanged for more than a decade and suffers from being in a venue which has very little passing foot traffic - except on match days.

“We have some exciting ideas to make it more accessible and more relevant to South Africans but they will take some time to bring to life.”

Roux said that SARU was in the beginning stages of identifying permanent new premises for the museum, having had to vacate the current building. He said that timelines on the museum’s re-opening would be publicised in due course.


The Rugby Championship Launched

Photo by Getty (click to purchase)

Argentina has been confirmed alongside South Africa, New Zealand and Australia to play from 2012 in “The Rugby Championship” – the exciting and ground-breaking replacement for the Tri-Nations series.

A SANZAR delegation will travel to Argentina in November on a fact-finding visit during which it will conduct venue inspections and hold discussions with the UAR, host broadcasters and other key stakeholders to ensure the smooth transition from Tri-Nations to The Rugby Championship.


New Zealand World champions for the first time since 1987

New Zealand crowned Rugby World Champions for the second time in a close run final against France (7-8).


The Laws in Plain English

The story of how a very junior referee lay his hands on the Holy Grail of Rugby, the Laws of the Game, framed by the International Rugby Football Board (as it was then known) and helped generations of players and referees learn how to play the game.


Re-enactment Game Celebrates first Rugby game in New Zealand

On September 20th, 2011, Nelson celebrated a game which took place 141 years ago, on May 14, 1870, at 2pm, when 36 enthusiastic young Kiwis played the first game of Rugby in New Zealand between a Nelson College side and the Nelson Football Club. History records that a crowd of around 200 "including a fair sprinkling of ladies" gathered at The Botanics to watch the new version of football.

2011 reenactment Nelson
Re-enactment Game in Nelson September 20th, 2011

The re-enactment took place on the very same patch of turf, at the Botanical Reserve, a picturesque spot that’s become known as the “Birthplace of New Zealand Rugby”, with the players dressed in clothing of the time and this time watched by thousands.

Off the field the 19th Century Band Rotunda made a comeback as the stage for local brass bands, quartets and ensembles. Food stalls served Devonshire teas, cucumber sandwiches and high teas.

The re-enactment was part of the REAL New Zealand Festival and was followed by a procession through Nelson to Trafalgar Park. The event was also part of the build-up to the Rugby World Cup 2011 match between Italy v Russia at Trafalgar Park and a fitting tribute to the birth of New Zealand Rugby.

Who first brought Rugby to New Zealand? Charles Monro

New Zealand Rugby Museum new Gallery to open August 11th

Museum president and former All Blacks captain Sir Brian Lochore will open the gallery.

The new museum will have interactive and multimedia elements. In its previous iteration visitors gazed upon old rugby jerseys and caps, photographs and other memorabilia. The new exhibition incorporates recordings, technology and interactive displays.

Museum director Stephen Berg said the relocation from Cuba St aimed to generate further excitement and enthusiasm for rugby and engage visitors with the many and varied connections the sport has with Kiwi culture.

The museum, located on the first floor of Te Manawa, will comprise four sections – Rugby Relics, Have a Go, Rugby Tribe and Discovery Library.

  • Rugby Relics is a short decade-by-decade history of the game and its links to New Zealand, with historic items housed in 15 display cabinets.

"Each cabinet has its own theme and that comes through in the way the stories are told and how the items are linked together," Mr Berg said. "And with the lighting also highlighting the materials and colours, each display is like a work of art."

  • The enclosed Have a Go section in the centre of the gallery will attract younger and more adventurous enthusiasts keen to pit their rugby skills against five interactive features. Protective netting will allow the participants to kick, tackle, sprint, jump and push without endangering other viewers in the gallery.

"This area is likely to be a real feature with its challenging apparatus, green floor carpet and wonderful lighting," Mr Berg said.

"The miniature floodlights in each corner replicate what it's like playing night rugby and lift the attraction to a different level."

  • The other two sections, Rugby Tribe and Discovery Library, will further illustrate how rugby, woven into New Zealand culture for nearly 150 years, has become a national passion.

Rugby Tribe will feature different exhibitions on a rotating basis, while the Discovery Library, accessed by arrangement only, houses rare rugby books, clippings, manuscripts, scrapbooks, match records, statistics, programmes, club histories and magazines.

An exhibition of rugby cartoons and an accompanying book by Ian Grant entitled Having a Ball will also be unveiled.

Mr Berg is delighted at how the project has come together and believes the finished "world-class" gallery will be better than he ever envisaged.

"It's been marvellous the way everyone has played their part," he said, "and been able to show all their skills and abilities. The attention to detail and time spent on each cabinet, for example, has turned them into design masterpieces."

The museum, founded in 1969, is now home to more than 40,000 heritage rugby items.

SRU to re-open it's Rugby Museum

Fantastic! Scotland is to get back it's Rugby Museum!

When I visited Murrayfield a few years ago, Mike O'Reilly and his volunteers were piecing back together and cataloging the library and Mike showed me the store room where stack upon stack of cardboard boxes containing the history of Scottish Rugby lay. It was a sorry sight.

The previous museum was disbanded with the building of a new stand and many artifacts were discarded at that time and staff remember recovering artifacts from a builder's 'skip' outside for safe keeping until there was a better appreciation for the proud history of Scottish rugby. A lot of material was also kept and spent approx. 20 years in cardboard boxes.

"When I worked in the old museum we used to have regular groups of children come with their teachers or parents, and they were fascinated and went away with a deeper interest in rugby. It was a history lesson that wasn't forced on them; one they wanted to experience, and felt better for having done so."

"We had lots of great volunteers like John Orr, John Law, George Reid and Charlie Scott who would sit there and take people round. "

The SRU were never against the idea, but didn't view it as a priority. When the union completed the redevelopment of Murrayfield in 1993 by replacing the old West Stand, which housed the old museum, there were plans for a state-of-the-art visitors centre. However, professionalism arrived before work got under way and as Murrayfield chiefs tried to work out how much it would cost to pay players, and where that money would come from, the whole idea was put on hold.

Campaigner George Russell declared the June 25th Scottish Rugby annual meeting "one of the highlights of my sporting life" after delegates voted heavily in favour of his motion to have a museum re-instated within Murrayfield Stadium.

Every year since 2002 Mr Russell, now 81 years old, had risen to plead for historic artefacts to be put on display before finally feeling compelled to formalise his case coupled with a £250,000 price tag.

"Most of what was displayed in the past is still available. For example there's a Waterford crystal chandelier and a boat (canoe) from New Zealand. Teams were forever bringing back items from tours that were worthy of display and I presented a six-panelled ball which was declared illegal in the 1950s."

Mr Russell also paid tribute to assistance from Mike O'Reilly, another former employee and ex-Heriot's official now an Orkney club delegate. Mr O'Reilly's masterstroke was to move from the body of the hall where he would have been addressing representative's backs to a raised stage - a move that had the platform party led by president Ian McLauchlan expressing surprise. Always passionate, some of Mr O'Reilly's rhetoric was also acerbic.

But where both he and George Russell caught the mood was in attacking an attempt by an SRU employee to talk down the proposal ahead of the motion being heard.

Now the WRU needs to sort out its museum, they have been promising that to visitors to the Millennium stadium since it opened. What a disappointment it is to any visitor that there is no museum celebrating Welsh rugby history.

Former IRB Chairman Albert Ferrasse has passed away aged 93

A great stalwart of the Game, Albert Ferrasse's contribution was incredible and included:

  • Being a fearsome lock, who helped Agen to a French Championship in 1945.
  • Refereed the 1959 final between Racing Club and Mont-de-Marsan.
  • Became President of Agen in 1965 - staying in the role for 20 years.
  • President of the French Federation (FFR) for 23 years.
  • FIRA-AER President between 1989 and 1997.
  • He oversaw France's accession to full IRB membership in 1978 and he was also the first Frenchman to receive the Vernon Pugh award from the IRB for his services to the development of rugby.
  • IRB Council Member between 1979 and 1992.
  • President of the IRB from 1979-87, overseeing the conception of, and build-up to the first Rugby World Cup and presenting New Zealand with the trophy after they had beaten France in the inaugural final.
  • In 1990, still close to the players, he created the Foundation Albert Ferrasse designed to manage the aftermath of serious accidents associated with rugby.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “A man of great stature, Albert Ferrasse’s contribution to French, European and world Rugby was massive. He was a visionary, a pioneer and a great champion of the Game and its values and his passing will be mourned throughout the Rugby family.

In 2001 Ferrasse was presented with the prestigious IRB Chairman’s Award in recognition of his exceptional service to the development and growth of Rugby.

He was made a commander of l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur for services to French Rugby.

“Ferrasse will be remembered not just as a great stalwart and champion of Rugby, but also as a dedicated and pioneering IRB Chairman,” added Lapasset. “The thoughts of everyone at the International Rugby Board are with his family at this difficult time.”

Gloucester Rugby Heritage

During work to build a new grandstand at Gloucester Rugby Club's ground at Kingsholm. Preparations for demolition of the old South Stand brought to light 31 boxes crammed with old photographs, papers and other memorabilia, dating back to the 19th Century. Saved from the skip by Gloucester Rugby Club Community Marketing Manager Gary Little, the boxes' contents were handed over to Gloucestershire Archives and it was decided they should form the basis of a Gloucester Rugby Archive.

Material has also been donated by BBC Radio Gloucestershire, the Gloucester Citizen, players past and present and members of the public. Although the Project is very much focussed on the Gloucester Rugby Club, its remit also encompasses Gloucestershire and England rugby where Gloucester players are involved.

Visit the archive and

Exploring South Africa

I recently visited South Africa and took in a couple of SuperRugby games in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Read more about the SuperRugby competition and see highlights of the games I watched here. btw. I can highly recommend the Hilton Hotel in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the staff were excellent!

The SA Rugby museum at Newlands, Cape Town is too small for all the exhibits they have to show but well worth a visit (and its free to enter). The museum is on the ground floor of the Sport Science Institute in Newlands, just a kick away from the Newlands stadium.

The museum is crammed full of exhibitions and insights into the world of rugby. The museum features rotating exhibitions and special attractions, which will fascinate both local and international visitors whether they be players or supporters.

Sa Rugby museum
Lots to see crammed into a small area

Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan extends its deepest sympathies to the many victims of the disaster that has devastated large areas of northeast Japan.

Christchurch Earthquake

The thoughts and deepest sympathies of the global Rugby family are with the people of Christchurch, their families and all affected by this tragedy.

"Try for the Gold" by Mark Ryan

Read the exciting history of the USA's rugby victories in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic games.


Copies available from

Monro to be honored at annual Steinlager Rugby Awards (article from

Charles Monro, the man who introduced rugby to New Zealand, will be honoured annually at the Steinlager Rugby Awards with an award re-named in his memory.

Charles Monro

Starting at this year’s Steinlager Awards, the prestigious Rugby Volunteer of the Year Award will be known as the Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year Award.
Monro is recognised as the man who brought the game of rugby to New Zealand having observed and played the game while studying at Christ’s College, Finchley, in London. On his return to New Zealand he organised the first game of rugby in May 1870 between the Nelson Football Club and Nelson College and later organised the first inter-district game of rugby when a group from Nelson Football Club played a Wellington selection at Petone in September that year.

The Rugby Volunteer of the Year Award is one of the most valued and important presented at the Steinlager Awards and its status is underlined by the fact that it has, in recent years, always been presented by the New Zealand Rugby Union Chairman or President.

NZRU Chairman Jock Hobbs said: “The association with Charles Monro who, through his voluntary efforts established rugby in New Zealand and helped it prosper and grow through his enthusiasm and commitment, is entirely appropriate and positive.”

NZRU Past President and Steinlager Rugby Awards judging panellist Andy Leslie said he was delighted with the re-naming of the award in Monro’s honour.

“The judging panel thought this was a great connection and adds to the prestige and value of this award which, even in the company of the other categories, stands out as one which recognises all of the outstanding people who contribute voluntarily to rugby in New Zealand.”

Monro’s life was captured in a biography “Monro – the Life and Times of the Man Who Gave New Zealand Rugby,” by Clive Akers, launched in December 2008 and available for purchase through the NZ Rugby Museum shop: 

Reward for 1910 Maori jersey (article from New Zealand Herald)

The New Zealand Rugby Union is offering a reward for information leading to the return of a 100-year-old Maori rugby jersey, stolen in June.

The 1910 jersey had belonged to New Zealand Maori hooker David Small - one of the members of the first New Zealand Maori team. The rare jersey was stolen from Rotorua during Maori rugby centenary celebrations, at the Solid Energy Centre, on June 18.

David Small pictured wearing the jersey in 1961

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew urged people to come forward with information: "We really want to return the jersey to the Small family," he said. The union declined to say how much the reward was. Meanwhile Bay of Plenty police acting district commander detective Inspector John Tims said a CIB investigation team was actively investigating the theft. Police had reviewed CCTV footage, interviewed people involved in the centenary event and continued to closely monitor online auction sites. "We are treating this complaint seriously, however, the key to recovering the jersey will be that vital piece of information that we do not yet have," he said.
The jersey is black with a red centre band and a gold fern and is in a very fragile condition. It has been in the Small family for 100 years and was worn by David Small in 1910 while on a tour of Australia. The family had loaned the jersey to the New Zealand Maori team for the duration of their three-match centenary tour.

The jersey was discovered in 1961 by David Small's son Vern when cleaning out his father's garage in Wellington.
Rugby historian Malcolm Mulholland said the jersey was possibly the oldest surviving in Maori rugby history as many from early decades were buried with players. The next batch of surviving jerseys dated from the 1940s and 1950s.

Print of the 1904 Lions tour to New Zealand

Athletic Park, Wellington 13 August, 1904. NZ vs Lions. (click picture to enlarge)

This image is made up of ten glass plate photographs taken at Athletic Park, Wellington on August 13, 1904. These have all been digitally scanned, restored and merged to provide an accurate panoramic view of this moment in history.

You can purchase a copy of the print here

A Scottish Rugby Hall Of Fame Gala Dinner November 4th, 2010

Scottish Rugby is setting up its first official Hall of Fame to celebrate the glittering contribution made by Scots to the oval ball game over the years.

The Hall of Fame panel (which includes five times British and Irish Lions coach, Sir Ian McGeechan, fellow British Lions and Scotland internationalists John Beattie, John Jeffrey and Chris Rea, and the doyen of Scottish rugby writers, Norman Mair) drew up a shortlist of Scots who have made an outstanding contribution to the oval ball game during the 90s.

Read more here

Hall of fame judges, from left, John Beattie, John Jeffrey, Ian McGeechan, Chris Rea and Norman Mair met at Murrayfield to discuss potential inductees. June 2010 Picture: PA

As well as the famous inductees, the dinner will be attended by the current Scotland squad, with the first 10 tables purchased given the opportunity to have two special guests at their table from the current Scotland playing squad team or management, a week from their Autumn Tests matches against New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa.

The inaugural Hall of Fame dinner, which will be preceded by a champagne reception, will be hosted by renowned broadcaster Dougie Donnelly with special guest speaker Rory Bremner.

Prices to attend this glittering awards ceremony are £149 + VAT pp or £1,490 + VAT for a table of 10. 

Hall of fame package includes:
• Three course dinner with wine
• Programme
• Induction ceremony
• Presentation of awards
• Guest speaker

Please click here to book with The Murrayfield Experience

Move and Redevelopment planned for The New Zealand Rugby Museum ahead of the 2011 RWC

The NZ Rugby Museum, which was established in 1969 and was the first national rugby museum in the world, is to be co-locating with Te Manawa and The Globe theatre, inside the Te Manawa Museum Complex, Main Street, Palmerston North.

The move will allow the Rugby Museum to revamp exhibitions from scratch, taking the good things that visitors enjoy and adding in many more exhibits and interactive displays to enhance the experience.

The gallery floor space will be tripled to 500m2 and will utilize best practice environmental, lighting, handling and storage standards required of a modern museum.

NZ Rugby Museum floor layout

The New Exhibition Experience – What Will it Look Like?
Exhibition development is well underway, with the planned experience to comprise four different zones - each designed to cater for the different interests and needs of varied target audiences:

  1. Kick-Off
    An exciting, welcoming and inspirational space that starts the experience and conveys some of the magic of the game.

  2. Trophies and Treasures
    A quiet, contemplative space that showcases the "crown jewels' of our rugby heritage collection, allowing the visitor to revel in rugby's great moments and follow the story of how the game evolved in New Zealand.

  3. Get Inside the Game
    A more interactive zone, where visitors can explore aspects of the game of most interest to them. Themes will include: The Fan Zone, Women's Rugby, Media Moments, A Rookie's Guide to How to Watch a Game, Putting Your Body on the Line, Footy Yarns, Footy Facts and more.

  4. Give it a Go!
    A 'seriously interactive' zone where visitors can represent their country and try out some rugby themed, physically challenging exhibits that include a series of simple game-based ball and skills challenges, "size me up' comparison exhibits (see how you measure up to famous players through the ages!), video and educational games, and a full-on behind-the-scenes changing room experience!

A fifth limited-access zone - the Discovery Library, will be available to those with special rugby interests, providing an in-depth research and quiet discovery space. The museum has 37,000 items electronically cataloged. (note: researchers cannot be entertained until after the 2011 RWC).

So if you live in New Zealand or plan to visit in the coming years, make it an essential part of your itinerary to visit this wonderful resource.

Opening mid-2011, visit the official web-site for further information.

Webb-Ellis Rugby Museum Re-opens

The St Matthews Street museum in Rugby is famous for being the site of the first established rugby football workshop and the building with the longest continuous connection to the game in the world. The building is where William Gilbert began producing rugby footballs in 1842, beginning a tradition of rugby football manufacture on the site that is carried on by Webb Ellis Ltd. to this day.

Collections officer: Angie Irvine, Stitcher: John Bachelor and Martin Corry
(Photo courtesy of Rugby Art Gallery and Museum)
The official re-opening, Thursday 12th November when former England captain and World Cup Winner,
Martin Corry of Wooden Spoon, re-launched the museum.

Wooden Spoon, a children’s charity dedicated to helping underprivileged children and
young people all over the UK and Ireland to live happier, richer lives.
For more information about Wooden Spoon visit

Established in the 1980s, the museum houses a rich collection of international rugby memorabilia and tells the story of the game, the ball and the building. Its prestige attracts fans of rugby from all over the world. The museum’s collection has been built up over the last hundred years. It is privately owned by Lawrence Webb of Webb Ellis Ltd but is currently on loan to Rugby Borough Council.

I had visited the museum a number of years ago (you can see an older picture of the Museum's frontage here). The Museum is a gold mine for those of us fascinated by the history of our beloved sport and I remember spending hours reading every notice and being fascinated by every exhibit. However, I do recall thinking at the time that the collection was in need of a bit of TLC and that is exactly what it's received. After many years of faithful service the Museum was in need of some renovation and it's just re-opened after a major re-fit of the building decor and exhibition cases (app. 4 months work) which will ensure that the collection will remain preserved for many years to come.

I visited the museum shortly before it was officially reopened by England International Martin Corry and was shown round by Angie Irvine, Collections officer for Rugby Art Gallery and Museum (including the famous Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum). What a difference! A lot of thought and care has been exercised in selecting and re-arranging the collection on display. Old favorites like the Gilbert Rugby ball, which was included in 'the great exhibition' of 1851, is still there and given pride of place but also a lot of new material has been added and it has all been arranged in themes which you can appreciate and enjoy as you pass through the museum.

Councilor Neil Campbell, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for Culture, said: “This project is an excellent illustration of what the Council can do in partnership with people to benefit the town and Borough. I really would encourage all residents of Rugby and fans of the game to visit the museum.”

I would fully concur, if you've been before, go back, you will not be disappointed. If you've never been then your in for a real treat. Visit the Museum (it's free), see Webb-Ellis' statue adjacent to the museum, Go and see Rugby School Close where it all started (by appointment) and enjoy a walk around a nice English town with plenty of good pubs and restaurants. A great day out for the Rugby enthusiast!

See the interior of the Webb-Ellis Rugby Football Museum

Rugby back in the Olympics!

The global Rugby family are celebrating the announcement that Rugby Sevens will be included at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

An overwhelming vote in favour of inclusion by the International Olympic Committee members at the 121st Session in Copenhagen - Rugby Sevens received 81 'yes' votes to only eight 'no' votes - means that the world's top men's and women's Rugby players will have the opportunity to compete for an Olympic Gold medal, the pinnacle of sporting achievement.

Bernard Lapasset, President of the International Rugby Board, said: "This is a historic moment for our sport and for the global Rugby community, who were united in support of our campaign."

"We are excited and honoured to be joining the Olympic Games and I would like to thank the IOC members for believing in our Olympic vision and our values and recognising that Rugby Sevens is a perfect fit for the Olympic Games."

"The Olympic Games will be the pinnacle of the sport for all our athletes and the Rugby family. The best men's and women's players in the world are excited to be able to showcase their talent on the world's greatest sporting stage."

"We are now looking forward to working in partnership with the IOC to develop and implement a Rugby Sevens tournament in Rio that will reach out to new audiences and inspire a new generation of sports fans around the world," added Lapasset.

In 1886 Pierre de Coubertin made a visit to Rugby School – the place where William Webb-Ellis was first inspired to pick up a ball and run. De Coubertin gained part of his inspiration from the school’s educational ethos – a philosophy reflected in the sport to which it gave its name. A sport with a unique spirit. That spirit still lives on in the sport of Rugby and in the International Olympic Committee: the body de Coubertin helped to establish in 1894. Six years later, de Coubertin personally oversaw Rugby’s introduction to the Paris Games of 1900. Under de Coubertin’s guidance the sport featured again in 1908, 1920 and 1924.

Now its back!

Congratulations to Manchester RFC on 150 years!

The 2009/10 season represents the 150th anniversary for Manchester Rugby Club (UK). There are a variety of sponsorship opportunities available, and they would be delighted to forward the portfolio to any interested parties that might seek to consider such as part of their marketing/PR tactics. Good value - and much commitment to give ROI. Simply email:

Manchester RFC

Book Review

Kings of Rugby - The 1959 Lions' Tour & Series and the Lives Beyond.
Copyright: 2008
ISBN: 0-9582387-6-6
Publisher: Hill-Verdon Publishing Ltd.
Author: Paul Verdon

Paul Verdon's intent was to create a commemorative tribute to the 1959 Lions' tour & series, fifty years on. It is obvious that immense care and thought has been exercised with the content and production of this book. When you consider the meticulous research, the extensive interviewing of the surviving players, the inclusion of their signatures, their profiles, the multitude of photographs, the detailed game by game match reports and the fine presentation of the material this is surely a labour of love with a value well beyond its price tag.

The author's style is relaxed and engaging throughout, making this book appealing to both the serious Rugby Historian and the casual reader interested in the feats of International rugby players past. Excellent book to read ahead of this years Lions tour. Read the full review

Preserving the past - Use it or Lose it !

Many rugby club houses around the world are decorated with old team photos from bygone days.

If the negatives have long since been lost, why not take them down, scan them into your PC (with as higher definition setting as possible). Not only will you be able to make your web site more interesting by adding to your clubs history online, but you can then re-print new copies of the photos for the clubhouse should the originals get damaged or faded and you will be helping preserve the history of the great sport of Rugby.

For advice on how to preserve documents and garments from the past, pop along to your local museum and they would be very glad to give you advice.


Pre-1950 - "RFU Bye laws, Laws of the game" & "RFU Handbooks". Best prices paid.

Other interesting old Rugby books also considered.

Contact us for a quote

Educational Enquiries

I get hundreds of emails each year from students all over the world, whilst I make every attempt to answer all of them, please be patient. Also check the web site carefully as sometimes the answer you are looking for is already detailed on the site.

Check FAQ section as well

Old School Football Song (modified)

"Forty years on, when afar and asunder
Parted are those who are reading today,
When you look back, and forgetfully wonder
What you were like in your work and your play,
Visions of boyhood shall float them before you,
Echoes of dreamland shall bear them along,
How we rejoiced as we struggled and panted,
Hardly believable, forty years on!

Forty years on, growing older and older,
Shorter in wind, as in memory long,
Feeble of foot, and rheumatic of shoulder,
What will it help you that once you were strong?
Never the battle raged hottest, but in it,
Neither the last nor the faintest, were we!
Fights for the fearless, and goals for the eager,
Twenty, and thirty, and forty years on! "

Listen to the Harrow School rendition

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boyCredits |Contact Us | ©2011