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New Zealand Rugby


New Zealand Rugby

New Zealand Rugby

The first ever rugby tournament that occurred in New Zealand happened in 1870 of May in Nelson. It was between the Nelson Football Club and Nelson College. The game quickly became popular and in 1875 of September first inter-provincial competition occurred in Dunedin, between the Dunedin clubs and the Auckland clubs. The first Provincial Unions were organized in 1879 in Wellington and Canterbury.

In 1892, the NZRU or New Zealand Rugby Union was organized to head the rugby union game on a national level.
At the time, the national union was called the NZRFU or the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. The name was shortened officially in 2006 by removing the term “football”.


On April 16, 1892, Saturday, during a meeting which occurred in Wellington, the NZRU was organized. Initiatory members were the Provincial Unions of Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, Marlborough, Manawatu, South Canterbury, Nelson, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Wellington, and Wanganui. Simultaneously, 3 major Unions of the South Island Provincial which were Otago, Canterbury, and Southland, protested the central dominance of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

The strongest proponent of the NZRU and its first secretary, Ernest Hoben, was the union’s driving force in its formation.


To give credit to Hoben’s contribution, the Wellington offices of the NZRU’s has an Ernest Hoben Room which currently exhibits all twenty six provincial jerseys beside photos of past teams of All Blacks and each and every name of members who had ever played in the All Black rugby team.
With the indoctrination of Canterbury, the Bush, Otago, Horowhenua, Southland, Poverty Bay, and West Coast unions in 1895, the NZRU was believed to be a united and complete assemblage of all rugby players of New Zealand. Nevertheless, the map of New Zealand rugby would be done over several times in the next decades. During the 1921 Annual Meeting, the New Zealand Rugby Union elected George Dixon as its first Life Member. He was the manager of the original All Blacks in 1905 and the first Chairman of the NZRU in 1904.


Another first was the pre-Annual Meeting of the provincial delegates to set up delegate fixtures for the upcoming season, bringing in a new degree of national coordination.
The New Zealand Rugby Union formally assumed the black jersey as the national playing strip in 1893 and chose the first national team sanctioned by the NZRU for the Australian tour. Still, the original team of New Zealand chosen in 1884 to tour New South Wales is recognized as a New Zealand team and its team members recognized as All Blacks.
The NZRU was indoctrinated as a member of the IRB in 1948, and subsequently gave up its delegacy on the RFU (Rugby Football Union) of England. The NZRU’s first attempt to gain membership in the IRB happened in 1908.
Succeeding the 1995 Rugby World Cup competition in South Africa, international rugby became professional with the repeal of all conviction regulations by the IRB. The NZRU negotiated with and signed up New Zealand players of rugby for the first time.



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