From The Vaults

25 July 2022
#FromTheVaults - ANZACS XV jersey, 1989

For this month's highlight from the collection, we look back to the first - and so far, only - time that Australia and New Zealand fielded a combined rugby union team. Described as the ANZACS XV, this jersey was worn by the team's Australian fly-half, Michael Lynagh.

The British and Irish Lions, captained by Finlay Calder and coached by Ian McGeechan, toured Australia between May and July 1989, playing 11 fixtures including three Test matches. Having lost the first Test (30-12), the Lions fought back to win the series 2-1 with victories in Brisbane (12-19) and Sydney (18-19).

With the Test series won, the Lions stayed in Australia to face a combined Australia and New Zealand XV on 23rd July at Brisbane. This being the first Australia-only tour since 1899, the Australian Rugby Union hoped that a combined team would showcase the equal talent of the ANZAC nations. The proposal was received with less enthusiasm in New Zealand, where twelve players reportedly turned down invitations to play. This left only three New Zealand players in the ANZAC squad.

Eight Australians and nine Lions who had played in the deciding Test at Sydney also started this match. Michael Lynagh, who wore this jersey, had already played in all three Tests against the tourists.

The formation of a new team required a new kit. It was manufactured by Canterbury, who also supplied kits for Australia and New Zealand at that time. The hooped jersey incorporates colours worn by both teams, with a gold stripe across the shoulders, white across the chest, then dark green and the remainder black. The ANZAC emblem was a shield shape featuring both the silver fern and the wallaby. The white areas of the jersey are stained, the button is missing from the collar and the dark green number 10 on the back is peeling. The wear and tear sustained reflects the fiercely competitive spirit in which the match was played. The power of the Lions' forwards and the strength of the ANZAC defence resulted in a game beset by injuries: this was the first time in international rugby that three injury replacements were permitted.

The scores had been level on 6-6 at half time and the Lions registered the first points of the second half with a penalty goal. When the ANZACs scored a converted try, the tourists responded with a try of their own. A third Lynagh penalty put the ANZAC team back in front but two drop goals from the Lions sealed their victory, 19-15. To win such a hard-fought and injury-ridden contest was quite some feat for the Lions following their eleven-match tour. The experience was seemingly enough to deter any further outings for a combined ANZAC team.