New Zealand Rugby Begin 125th Anniversary Year of Celebrations

All Blacks Documentary Premier - History of the All Black Jersey

Last Word On Rugby, by Scott Hornell.

On Easter Sunday, April 16, New Zealand Rugby reached 125 years. The significance of the date illustrates the years of success and heartache, wins and losses. But for the fans of the All Blacks, there is now a touchpoint for the year of celebrations.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has launched a specially commissioned website showcasing rugby’s milestones and highlights over its remarkable history in the country. The interactive site,, charts the years from the introduction of rugby to New Zealand in 1872, to the official formation of NZR in 1892, through to the current day.

Interactive Timeline Launched to Showcase Rugby History

While anniversaries often look back, and more often are centralized in a museum or landmark, NZR have entrusted technology to share the story of the game in New Zealand. They have launched a specially commissioned website showcasing rugby’s milestones and highlights over its remarkable history in the country.

In an interactive experience, NZR look to ‘bring to life’ the powerful periods over the 125 years. When opening the website page, visitors can select portals and timelines specific to a time and historical era. Opening with 1870-1891, the formative years. As the game immigrates into the landscape, alongside the thousands of settlers and ex-patriots.

It then looks at the recognition of NZR from 1892-1899, where the first teams played against opposition under the banner of the Commonwealth of New Zealand.

Sport, Rugby Union, The New Zealand, “All Blacks” that toured Britain in 1905 (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby History Stretches over Three Centuries

The sections [minute books] then cover 1900-1913 and the First World War era. A time known for the ‘Originals’ successful tour of the United Kingdom before one of the founding fathers of the games, Dave Gallaher, gave his life in the service of the Empire.

From here, the 1919-1929 timeline blends into the 1930-1939 years before the Second World War. A time when a side they dubbed ‘the Invincibles’ developed a legacy which; while stalled by the War, still earned the All Blacks an International respect.

1946-1959 was a time which saw a rebuilding of the brand. Punctuated by the 1956 Springboks tour, where that nation suffered it’s only away series loss of the 20th century.

After the hard work was put in, 1960-1969 is one where the highlights include an unprecedented streak of 17 matches undefeated–only bettered recently, by the 2016 side.

All Blacks Legacy Builds from Strength-to-Strength

The selections then cover ten year periods; 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 which were monumental times. Grand Slams, reaching new regions but also a time of conflict; the Springbok tour and boycotts. That lead to 100th jubilee and two successive Lions inbound tour victories.

The end of the century leads into the new, professional-rugby millennium. This age of 2000-2009 and 2010-today is represented by the highest successful winning percentage: 89% and gradually topping 90%. Best exemplified by the back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins under all-time most capped All Black, Richie McCaw.

The 2015 Rugby World Cup jersey is pictured during the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby World Cup jersey launch at The Northern Club on July 1, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

So with the click of a mouse, the viewer can browse highlights and matches from domestic and International games. Designed to share an insight, it is an overview of the national union and all it’s achievements. It includes interactive quiz questions, photo montage, footage and interesting facts over the 125 years.

Site Provides a Snapshot of the Organization’s Vision and History

The breadth of NZR’s responsibility has been shown in the timeline – and in addition NZR has been considering:

  • Achieving a great relationship with professional players through the Collective Employment Agreement, negotiations with the New Zealand Rugby Players Association
  • Being an active leader and supporter for rugby across the Pacific.

New Zealand Rugby Begin 125th Anniversary Year of Celebrations

New Zealand Rugby chief executive, Steve Tew said the website would provide students, fans and people interested in the organisation’s history with an interactive summary of events and activities that have helped shape rugby in New Zealand.

“Over 125 years, New Zealand Rugby has evolved from its initial role to ‘settle disputes’ and ‘develop a better system of inter-union visits’ to become responsible for running and developing all areas of the game.

“We are grateful to Ernest Hoben and his contemporaries for their foresight 125 years ago. Rugby has evolved massively over the years and with running the game comes a responsibility to ensure it continues to remain relevant for future generations, not only in New Zealand but through our contribution to rugby on the world stage.”

British and Irish Lions Tour/Barbarians Fixtures Scheduled

Several key matches have been scheduled to coincide with the celebrations. These begin with the inbound tour of the British and Irish Lions. A three test series, with the tourists playing ten games that includes all five Super Rugby franchises.

Lions and All Black jersey logos for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand. (Photo by Ross Land/Getty Images)

Then later in the year, the All Blacks will face off against the old adversary in the Barbarians Football Club. This is scheduled for November 4 at Twickenham, and will be a wonderful match up [hopefully[ played in a festival-rugby style. Both the Baabaas and the Lions matches reflect on the long history of encounters and the respect between the combined sides of the Baabaas and Lions selections.

Overall, as well as recognizing milestones though every decade since its formation, the site features interactive quiz questions to test budding historians and includes information on the New Zealand Rugby union’s priorities illustrated within the minute books. A glorious history that continues to grow, and reflects the success and worldwide respect awarded to the original ‘Men in Black’.


Excerpts have been used from the New Zealand Rugby media release, April 15.

“Main photo credit”