Want to help ?
National Rugby Unions | Laws | Scoring | Player Numbering | Player Positions | * | *
Rugby School | Club History | Bloxham's Letter | Split of Union and League | Thomas Hughs | * | *
The Ball | Apparel | * | * | * | * | *
Olympics | Six Nations | Tri-nations | Rugby World Cup | Women's RWC | * | *
Rugby History Links | General Rugby Links | Club History Links | * | * | * | *
subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link

All Blacks

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy

The early years

The New Zealand All Blacks have to be the finest and most consistantly good international rugby side.

The first New Zealand touring side to travel abroad went to New South Wales in 1884 and won all 8 games, which included three games with a New South Wales Representative side. 167 points were scored to 17.

1884 NZ team<
1884 NZ representative side

The first New Zealand touring side under the auspices of the New Zealand RFU, visited New South Wales & Queensland, Australia in 1893. However, this side was still not fully representative of the greater New Zealand since three unions were not included in the selection i.e. Otago, Canterbury & Southland (they joined the NZ union in 1895). Despite this, the tourists won 9 out of 10 games (168 points to 44).

The first New Zealand representative rugby team to tour beyond Australia were called "The Natives", they played their first game in Britain on 3 October 1888. The Natives had originally been called New Zealand Maori. After five Pakeha were selected to strengthen the touring party it was renamed by its promoter on the basis that all 26 team members were New Zealand born. In fact two had in fact been born overseas. Most of the team assembled at a training camp near Napier in May 1888, and they played their first match against Hawke's Bay on 23 June.

natives team
Natives Touring Team

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. Their efforts to retain their fitness during the six-week voyage by shovelling coal and exercising on deck were thwarted by the complaints of other passengers, but they did take part in the first recorded rugby match in Egypt en route.

They disembarked at Tilbury on 27 September. Six days later, wearing black uniforms and after performing a haka, a team which had 'caused much curiosity' efficiently defeated a scratch Surrey fifteen 4-1.

See the Natives fixture list, scores and player list.

A further touring side visited Queensland, Australia in 1897 but neither side played a team representing Australia.

The first international test match was played on August 15, 1903 when a New Zealand touring side met Australia on the Sydney Cricket ground. New Zealand won 22 points to 3.

The second international test was a home match the following year when they defeated Britain at Athletic Park, Wellington, by 9-3. The British team were touring Australia and despite them being unbeaten in Australia, they lost two and drew one in New Zealand. They also lost to an unofficial Maori XV at Rotorua.

How they got their name

The New Zealand test side was not always called the All Blacks, (in the early days they were called Maorilanders, the New Zealanders or even the Colonials), they were given that name during their famous 1905 tour to the British Isles, France and Canada.

The 1884 side mentioned above had for its uniform a dark blue jersey with a gold fernleaf over the left breast, dark knickerbockers, and stockings. It was certainly not “All Black”.

After the formation of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 1892, it was resolved that the New Zealand representative colours should be “…Black Jersey with Silver Fernleaf, Black Cap with Silver Monogram, White Knickerbockers and Black Stockings…” on the motion of Mr WEllison and seconded by Mr King. This was the standard uniform for some years, though photographs of the 1894 and 1896 teams show that white shorts, and not knickerbockers, were worn. There is no photograph of the 1897 team in uniform–in the official photograph they are shown wearing long trousers–but in the New Zealand Graphic of 14 August 1897 there is a cartoon of a New Zealand footballer wearing a black jersey and white shorts.

For the 1905 tour the shorts were changed to black.

The "Express & Echo in Devon appears to be the first to use the term All-blacks when it recorded the day the 1905 touring side beat Devon 55-4 in their first game, "The All Blacks, as they are styled by reason of their sable and unrelieved costume, were under the guideance of their captain (Mr Gallaher), and their fine physique favorably impressed the spectators".

By 11 October the Daily Mail by Buttery, had also picked this up and reference “All Black” play and its complement, “All Black Cameraderie”. From then on the new name gradually won acceptance, so much so that by early November, following the match with Surrey (1 November), the Daily Mail made direct mention of the All Black team “that everybody is talking about”.

It is also interesting to note that on 15 November 1905 the term “Blacks” had even appeared in the pages of Punch which printed a number of stanzas dealing with the shortcomings of Seddon, the last running as follows:

Can it be your head is turned
By your team of Rugby “Blacks”?
Has the glory they have earned
Set you trotting in their tracks?
Well, it's not mere weight and gristle,
You must also play the game,
Or the referee may whistle
And you'll have yourself to blame
If you get a free kick where you don't expect the same.

Although the new name “caught on” so quickly in Britain, its acceptance in New Zealand was much slower. Seddon, for instance, with that political opportunism which both irritated and amused his opponents, followed up each victory with congratulatory cablegrams addressed to “the colony's football team” (mid-October) or “the New Zealand football team” (4 December). The newspapers were equally tardy in adopting the term but by 21 November the New Zealand Herald referred to the “Triumphal March of the Blacks”. A few weeks later (6 December) it headed a column “ ‘All Black’ Gossip”; editorially, however, it always used the more formal term, “New Zealand Footballers”. Thus on 5 March 1906, the day of the team's arrival at Auckland, the Herald editorially acclaimed the “New Zealand Footballers”, but on the following day it headed its report of the official function of welcome with a bold double-column caption “Return of the All Blacks”. Meanwhile, throughout the country special shop window displays and feature advertisements “to mark the return of the All Blacks” suddenly appeared. The “All Blacks” had indeed arrived.

1905 tour

The title of 'The Originals' was bestowed on the 1905/6 team to your Britain, France and Canada, which arrived home to an official welcome befitting conquering heroes.

Pre-tour games:

Aucklands   3 - 9 Won July 1st, 1905

Such was the state of the finances prior to setting sale for England that the NZRFU haisily organized a three match tour of Australia to raise funds. Thereby 19 New Zealaners went to Australia just 2 weeks prior to leaving on the tour (8-15 July).

New South Wales   0 - 19 Won July 8th, 1905
Sydney Metropolitan   3 - 23 Won July 12th, 1905
New South Wales   8 - 8 Drew July 15th, 1905

Also some additional pre-tour matches were planned:

Dunedin       July 22nd, 1905
Christchurch       July 27th, 1905
Wellington       July29th, 1905

The team departed for England aboard the Rimutaka on 30 July. There were two ports of call on the way, Montevideo, and Tenerife, before their eventual arrival in Plymouth, England.

Opponent For Against Date Location
Devon 55 4 16 September 1905 Exeter
Cornwall 41 0 21 September 1905 Camborne
Bristol 41 0 23 September 1905 Bristol
Northampton 32 0 28 September 1905 Northampton
Leicester 28 0 1 October 1905 Leicester
Middlesex 34 0 4 October 1905 Stamford Bridge
Durham 16 3 7 October 1905 Durham
Hartlepool Clubs 63 0 11 October 1905 Hartlepool
Northumberland 31 0 14 October 1905 North Shields
Gloucester 44 0 19 October 1905 Gloucester
Somerset 23 0 21 October 1905 Taunton
Devonport Albion 21 3 25 October 1905 Newton Abbot
Midland Counties 21 5 28 October 1905 Leicester
Surrey 11 0 1 November 1905 Richmond
Blackheath 32 0 4 November 1905 Blackheath
Oxford University 47 0 7 November 1905 Oxford
Cambridge University 14 0 9 November 1905 Cambridge
Richmond 17 0 11 November 1905 Richmond
Bedford XV 41 0 15 November 1905 Bedford
Scotland 12 7 18 November 1905 Edinburgh
West of Scotland 22 0 22 November 1905 Glasgow
Ireland 15 0 25 November 1905 Dublin
Munster 33 0 28 November 1905 Limerick
England 15 0 2 December 1905 Crystal Palace
Cheltenham 18 0 6 December 1905 Cheltenham
Cheshire 34 0 9 December 1905 Birkenhead
Yorkshire 40 0 13 December 1905 Headingley
Wales 0* 3 16 December 1905 Cardiff
Glamorgan 9 0 21 December 1905 Swansea
Newport 6 3 23 December 1905 Newport
Cardiff 10 8 26 December 1905 Cardiff
Swansea 4 3 30 December 1905 Swansea
France 38 8 1 January 1906 Paris
British Columbia 43 6 10 February 1906 Berkeley
British Columbia 65 6 13 February 1906 San Francisco
Total Points 976 59

* That disputed try against Wales

Name Position Province Tour points
George Gillett Fullback Canterbury 18
Billy Wallace Three-quarters Wellington 246
Duncan McGregor Three-quarters Wellington 50
Ernie Booth Three-quarters Otago 17
George Smith Three-quarters Auckland 57
Harold Abbott Three-quarters Taranaki 47
Hector Thompson Three-quarters Wanganui 44
Eric Harper Three-quarters Canterbury 24
Jimmy Hunter Five-eighths Taranaki 129
Simon Mynott Five-eighths Taranaki 49
Bob Deans Five-eighths Canterbury 60
Billy Stead Five-eighths Southland 33
Fred Roberts Halfback Wellington 48
Steve Casey Forward Otago 0
John Corbett Forward West Coast 0
Bill Cunningham Forward Auckland 22
Frank Glasgow Forward Taranaki 37
Bill Glenn Forward Taranaki 0
Bill Johnston Forward Otago 9
Bill Mackrell Forward Auckland 3
Alex McDonald Forward Otago 12
Fred Newton Forward Canterbury - West Coast 3
George Nicholson Forward Auckland 18
Jim O'Sullivan Forward Taranaki 3
Charlie Seeling Forward Auckland 24
George Tyler Forward Auckland 18
Dave Gallaher (Captain) Forward Auckland 5

November 24th, 2013

World champions New Zealand became the first international team in the professional era to go all season unbeaten after beating Ireland at Lansdowne Road. Aaron Cruden converted with the last kick of the game to beat Ireland 24-22.


1. 1905 Originals. Bob Howitt & Dianne Haworth. Pub. Harpersports. ISBN 1 86950 553 0
2. History of New Zealand Rugby Football - A.C.Swan 1870 - 1945, Pub. 1948 by New Zealand RFU by A.H. & A. W. Reed, Wellington.
3. An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock 1966
4. New Zealand History online
5. NZ Rugby Museum

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boyCredits |Contact Us | ©2007