From The Vaults

28 September 2020
The 1910 British & Irish Lions tour of Argentina

In 1910 the British and Irish Lions toured Argentina for the first time. Under the captaincy of John Raphael, they contested Los Pumas first international test-match.

The Lions returned to Argentina again in 1927. Before their arrival writer James McGough wrote the book "Historia del RUGBY en la ARGENTINA, desde el primer partido en el año 1873" in which he recalled the exploits of the earlier tour.

The following match reports from the 1910 tour were put together by Eduardo García Sáenz using McGeough's earlier work as reference.

1910 British Isles Touring team

ARGENTINA "A" (Olympics "A") 13 BRITISH and IRISH LIONS 19

Thursday, May 26, 1910

Belgrano Athletic Club. Virrey del Pino 3456. City of Buenos Aires

2000 spectators

ARGENTINA "A": J Saffery (Belgrano AC) OSt.J Gebbie (Captain and Buenos Aires FC) HF Talbot (Rosario Athletic Club, today CA del Rosario) CJ McCarthy (Lomas AC) O Thorp (Buenos Aires FC) H Watson (Belgrano AC) WF Bridger (Rosario AC) BH "Fairy" Heatlie (Lomas AC) D MacKay (Buenos Aires FC) LH Gribbell (Belgrano AC) FWC Sawyer (Rosario AC) FLH Maitland (Belgrano AC) A Bovet (Southern Railway / F.C.S) A Reid (Rosario AC) J Winks (Lomas AC)

BRITISH and IRISH LIONS: JE Raphael, Alexander, C Palmer, Barrie, B Bennetts, EN Fuller, HG Monks, ALH Gotley, R Harrison, WS Stranach, HE Ward, PD Strang, Percy Diggle, S Holmwood, Walter Huntingford, MB Tweed

First Half: try A Bovet converted by BH Heatlie

Second Half: try OSt.J Gebbie converted by BH Heatlie

They were called Olympics, since they were scheduled to go to the 1908 Olympics but, due to economic problems, were unable to attend. Barry H "Fairy" Heatlie, a South African national who represented South Africa in 1891,1896 and 1903 (6 caps) was the one who gave the shirt colour to the Springboks, inspired perhaps in the colours of Lomas Athletic Club de Argentina. Heatlie, born in Worcester, Western Cape in 1852, was 1'90m tall and weighed 94kg, played at Bishops School (Old Diocesans RFC), Gardens RFC, Villagers RFC and Western Province (41 games), Lomas Athletic Club and Gimnasia Esgrima from Buenos Aires. He lived 20 years in Argentina and worked as an employee in a sugar company and became General Manager. He came to Gymnastics and Fencing in 1911 and was a champion with the "Mens Sana" in 1911 and 1912. He was then coach of this club, in various divisions. He was an excellent player and a very good kicker. For Argentina he played a single Test and it was vs. the BRITISH LIONS, in 1910. He died in 1951 in Cape Town, South Africa.

As McGough explains, "Of course, the visitors won in a magnificently open game that clearly highlighted the duties of the halves and the three quarters. Argentine forwards made a good "pack" but in other sections, with the exception of Saffery who played a great back game, we were ruthlessly outbid. The difference in the methods was very visible and the score was not related in any way to what actually took place. The visitors scored after twenty minutes but Bovet reacted for Argentina shortly after, his score converted by Heatlie. Then the visitors crossed the line twice in quick succession, the first being converted. A glorious run from Raphael caused another three points before the interval.

In the second half, a goal and a try were recorded for each side, McCarthey and Gebbie scored for Argentina, with Heatlie converting the first.


Sunday, May 29, 1910

Belgrano Athletic Club. Virrey del Pino 3456. City of Buenos Aires

BELGRANO ATHLETIC CLUB: JE Saffery, W Stocks, P Gosling or CG Stocks, AH Kingscote, OF Bush, WA Watson, JC Wilson, L. Gribbell, FLH Maitland, RJ Nicol, T Clarke, H Choate, R.M. Jackson, W McCallum and Meyier

BRITISH and IRISH LIONS: JE Raphael, AC Palmer, S Smith, EN Fuller, HG Monks, ALH Gotley, R Harrison, WS Stranach, S Holmwood, HE Ward, M Tweed, PD Strang, P Diggle, JF Ashby and WL Fraser.

General admission was $1 and grandstand $2. Though Belgrano were the 1910 local champions, the match was one-sided. A local newspaper reported: "The visitors annihilated Belgrano by fifty-eight points to zero, demonstrating the absurdity of putting a team from an ordinary club in front of the English".


Thursday, June 2, 1910

Sociedad Sportiva (now Polo Fields, "Palermo", City of Buenos Aires)

ARGENTINA "B": G.G.Stocks (Belgrano AC), PividaL (Gimnasia y Esgrima), F. de C.M. Heriot (Buenos Aires FC), H.Carnochan, N.Moore, C.T.Mold (Buenos Aires FC), E.Tebbutt (Buenos Aires FC), K. Dreysdale (Buenos Aires FC), R.J. Nicol (Belgrano AC), R.Le Bas (Rosario AC), A.Henrys (Buenos Aires FC), J.M. Grant; P.Donelly (Buenos Aires FC), M.Tracey (Buenos Aires FC), N.M. Hayman (Buenos Aires FC).

BRITISH and IRISH LIONS: (full details missing but players include) John Raphael (Captain), HG Monks, Alexander Palmer, Anthony Gotley, R Harrison, WS Stranach, PD Ward and PD Strang.

Confusion over the chosen venue meant few would witness this match, which started at 2.15 pm. Overall Olympics "B" side did not perform as well as the A side and the result was a disappointment. Argentina's score was the result of a Henry's try in the second half, converted by Stocks.


Sunday, June 5, 1910

Hurlingham Club, Buenos Aires (Golf and Polo Club, founded by the British colony in 1888). City of Hurlingham, Province of Buenos Airies

BUENOS AIRES FOOTBALL CLUB (founded in 1864): J.M Wigg, A Reid, OSt.J Gebbie, F de Courcy Maitland-Heriot, F Henrys, C.T.Mold, E.Tebbutt, F.W.C.Sawyer, K.Drysdale, D.McKay, B.H.Heatlie, K.Drysdale, W.F. Paunero, T Lloyd Roberts and J.McCall.

BRITISH and IRISH LIONS: J.E. Raphael, Wadell, BB Bennetts, EN Fuller, HG Monks, ALH Gotley, AC Palmer, WS Stranach, S Holmwood, HE Ward, W Huntingford, P.R. Diggle, PD Strang, Tweed, Whitehead

A large crowd assembled to watch Argentina's 1909 champion side take on the Lions at 2.30 p.m.

The final score was twenty-eight to zero, without it being necessary to say in whose favour. An unforgettable feature of this match was the work of the English captain, who seemed to be there to demonstrate especially on that occasion 'how it was done' in your section.

The B.A.F.C In 1952 it changed its name to BUENOS AIRES CRICKET & RUGBY CLUB.

Argentina's first test-side, 1910


Sunday, June 12, 1910

Sociedad Sportiva, Palermo (now Polo Fields, "Palermo", City of Buenos Aires)

ARGENTINA: JE Saffrey (Belgrano A.C), CJ MacCarthy (Lomas AC), Oswald St. Gebbie (Buenos Aires FC and captain), F de C.M. Heriot (Buenos Aires FC), Henry F Talbot (Rosario Athletic Club), Carlos T Mold (Buenos Aires FC), WA Watson (Belgrano AC), Barry H Heatlie (Lomas AC), LH Gribbell (Belgrano AC), WH Hayman (Buenos Aires FC), F.Henrys (Buenos Aires FC), FW Sawyer (Rosario AC), A Bovet (Southern Railway/F.C.S) A Donelly (Buenos Aires FC) and Alvan Reid (Rosario AC)

BRITISH and IRISH LIONS enlisted: JE Raphael, AC Palmer, B Bennetts, EN Fuller, HG Monks, ALH Gotley, R Harrison, WS Stranach, RB Wadell, HE Ward, H Whitehead, WL Fraser, W Huntingford, MB Tweed and PD Strang.

First Half: try Palmer converted by Raphael, try FdeCM Heriot

Second Half: try Monks, drop goal R Harrison, try Bennett converted by Raphel, try Monks converted by Harrison, try Harrison converted by Huntingford

A red-letter day in that this was the first test-match in the history of the Argentine national rugby team. The game kicked off at 3pm and was refereed by E Duncan. Well rested, the visitors showed up in great shape at Sportiva where they faced off against what was at the time the best batch of players that Argentina could field. A large number of spectators attended. McGeough reports: 'Naturally we were defeated, but only by twenty-eight to three, with Heriot being our scoring agent'.

Argentina and the British & Irish Lions contest a line-out, Sociedad Sportiva 1910


Friday, June 17, 1910

Sociedad Sportiva (now Polo Fields, "Palermo", City of Buenos Aires)

ARGENTINE NATIVES: R Rioboo ((Gimnasia y Esgrima BA)), E Shaw (Athletic Association of Medicine), OSt. Gebbie (Buenos Aires FC), M Fresco (A.A. of Medicine), Jorge Brown ((Gimnasia y Esgrima BA)), CT Mol (Buenos Aires FC), P Groppo (A.A. of Medicina), W Paunero (Buenos Aires FC), Alberto Rebagliatti ((Gimnasia y Esgrima BA)), K Drysdale (Buenos Aires FC), Raúl Buzzo ((Gimnasia y Esgrima BA)), Adolfo Pividal ((Gimnasia y Esgrima BA)), Carlos Leonardi ((Gimnasia y Esgrima BA)), M.Fuschini (A.A. of Medicine) and Juan Atilio Buzzo (Gymnastics and Fencing)

BRITISH and IRISH LIONS: JE Raphael, AC Palmer, B Bennetts, EN Fuller and HG Monks, ALH Gotley, R Harrison, WS Stranach, RB Waddell, PD Strang, HE Ward, H Whitehead, WL Fraser, W Huntingford and M Tweed.

Referee: F de CM. Heriot

From the Chronicle: "The score at the end of the match was 41 to 10 against Argentinos, having started to score points very early, because after about eight minutes of play Gotley went and, after a good run, transferred Palmer at an opportune moment and the latter crossed the line, to convert Harrison.

Shortly afterwards Stranach and Fraser came out and kept the ball between them, being for the first of those named the final transfer, and to allow Harrison to demonstrate once again his good aim. "

"Five minutes later, it was the Argentine's turn when, after some loose kicks in our forehead, the ball was lifted and sent to GEBBIE; the agile and small three-fourths gained ground considerably and then released PIVIDAL, who passed the line with great thrust, GEBBIE put the finishing touch on a clean little job by safely sending the ball between the posts. "

"Immediately the revenge came in the form of a try that Monks recorded almost on the touchline, Raphael failing with the kick from the extreme angle. Then, Gotley strode over the line and scored another try that Harrison converted and the latter player followed immediately after with a great spiral run that ended with a pass that led to another score, converted again by HARRISON"

"Then something curious happened: from a pass Bennett tried a drop at goal, but the ball hit an Argentine player and bounced towards Raphael, who took it and tried again but once more the ball hit an enemy. This time the ball did not bounce but went directly to Bennetts, who was standing almost at the mouth of the goal where he took the opportunity to register a try that Harrison converted. "

"Mold was hurt in this half and Arnold Hutton took the field in his place." "The second half was a repeat, more or less, of the first half. England scored tries, made by Monks, Stranach and Bennetts, with Harrison converting only the last."

GROPPO added points to the account of the Argentines falling on the ball after it had been released by PAUNERO, who made a very good run and to whom he owes the honour of the score. " "That the game was fought hard, is demonstrated by the fact that in addition to what happened to Mold, Harrison and Huntingford were also on the list of the injured."

About the Author - Eduardo García Sáenz played for Marist Brothers Club (1975-79) and coached the Argentina national sides at under 19 and 21 level (1979-80). Since then he has worked as a radio commentator, television and newspaper columnist. He has written extensively about the history of rugby, football and polo in Argentina.
Eduardo welcomes correspondence and can be contacted by email at [email protected] or on twitter @nichetorugby

Visit our website, book your visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.