110 Years since the Originals

I see Lion have released a new add campaign to coincide with 110 years since the “Originals” tour of Great Britain.

Those rugby nuts amongst you may know that there was in fact a New Zealand Native tour of Great Britain before the Originals” – almost 17 years before!

One of John James Stanaway’s grand children TIKA MINARAPA (RICHARD MAYNARD) 1867 -1897, was a member of this Native team. (Check out the link).

Native Rugby Tour, 1888-89

The New Zealand Native Football Representatives’ tour of Britain is relatively unknown. The first New Zealand representative rugby team to tour beyond Australia, they played their first game in Britain on 3 October 1888. The title of ‘The Originals’ was bestowed on the next New Zealand rugby team to tour Britain, that of 1905/6, which arrived home to an official welcome befitting conquering heroes. But even though it was soon forgotten, the Natives′ tour was to have enduring significance for New Zealand rugby and society.

This team photo is thought to have been taken before the Middlesex match in October 1888. Back row: Thomas Eyton (co-promotor), R. Maynard, C. Goldsmith. Third row: J. Lawlor (coach), D. Stewart, W. Nehua, H.H. Lee, G.A. Williams, T. Rene, Wi Karauria, William Warbrick, E. Ihimaira, J.R. Scott (manager). Second row: R.G. Taiaroa, W. Elliott, T.R. Ellison, J.A. Warbrick (captain), E. McCausland, W. Anderson, P. Keogh. Front row: Arthur Warbrick, H.J. Wynard, D.R. Gage, F. Warbrick, C. Madigan, A. Webster.

This team photo is thought to have been taken before the Middlesex match in October 1888.
Back row: Thomas Eyton (co-promotor), R. Maynard, C. Goldsmith. Third row: J. Lawlor (coach), D. Stewart, W. Nehua, H.H. Lee, G.A. Williams, T. Rene, Wi Karauria, William Warbrick, E. Ihimaira, J.R. Scott (manager). Second row: R.G. Taiaroa, W. Elliott, T.R. Ellison, J.A. Warbrick (captain), E. McCausland, W. Anderson, P. Keogh. Front row: Arthur Warbrick, H.J. Wynard, D.R. Gage, F. Warbrick, C. Madigan, A. Webster.

The Natives had originally been called New Zealand Māori. After five Pākehā (non-Māori) 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. This was untrue: two of the ring-ins had 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. Before they left New Zealand they were condemned as a ‘poor team’ who wouldn’t beat the top local club sides. But after they slipped quietly back into the country a year later, their play was praised as a ‘fine exhibition of what several months of combination and practice will do’.

By the time the Natives dispersed at Auckland in August 1889, they had played a staggering 107 rugby matches in New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain, winning 78 of them – plus nine Australian Rules and two association football fixtures! For much of that time no more than 20 of the touring party were fit, forcing those who were into a playing schedule that no modern team would contemplate.

‘Their War Cry before starting play’. This cartoon of a pre-match haka by the New Zealand Natives’ rugby team was published in England during their tour of 1888/89.

‘Their War Cry before starting play’. This cartoon of a pre-match haka by the New Zealand Natives’ rugby team was published in England during their tour of 1888/89.

A major book on the Natives’ tour by historian Greg Ryan, Forerunners of the All Blacks (Canterbury University Press, 1993), provides a detailed study of the tour, and anyone interested in further information on the topic should consult this book. This excert draws extensively on Dr Ryan’s research and insights. Material from Forerunners of the All Blacks.

The average age of the tourists was about 22. Nearly all were single and had poor job prospects. An expenses-paid trip to Britain must have appealed to them.

The tour was the first from the Southern Hemisphere to visit Britain, and remains the longest in rugby’s history

Games and scores

  • Total (all codes): played 118: won 81, drew 7, lost 30
  • Total (rugby games): played 107: won 78, drew 6, lost 23 Points for: 773; Points against: 305
  • In Britain: played 74: won 49, drew 5, lost 20 Points for: 394; Points against: 188

The team cap for the New Zealand Natives’ rugby tour of 1888/89 was notable for the first use of the silver fern in New Zealand rugby. This symbol would come to be used on most New Zealand sporting uniforms.

Native Tour Itinerary

Native Tour Itinerary

This entire team are now members of the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

 

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