From The Vaults

15 March 2021
RFU150 - New Zealand Rugby

As the Rugby Football Union celebrates its 150th year, we examine six influential governing bodies and their roles in the history and development of Rugby Union since 1871.

Part 5- New Zealand Rugby

Dave Gallaher 1905 jersey New Zealand All Blacks

Dave Gallaher's 1905 New Zealand jersey

On the 12th December 1924, administrators of England, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, New South Wales, South Africa and Ireland met at the Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross London for the first 'Imperial Rugby Conference'. One by one, the conference worked their way through a series of proposals for how the game might be improved from everything from point scoring to breakdown laws and substitutions. Invariably they were proposed by Mr SF Wilson, President of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), with the support of All Blacks Tour Manager Stan Dean and often the two representatives of New South Wales.

Chaired by the venerable George Rowland Hill, the conference listened and carefully considered each item in turn before rejecting them, almost without exception. The modern reader, however, will note that most of what was being proposed are standard features of the modern game. From this we can see that, although the game originated in the British Isles, New Zealand was the true crucible of its development.

Founded in 1892 as an agglomeration of existing provincial unions, the NZRFU rebranded as New Zealand Rugby in 2013.

For much of the NZRFU's existence it struggled to be heard. Also included in the 1924 conference was a request that dominions be given seats on the International Board. This too was rejected and a seat at the top table didn't arrive until 1948. Once on the board, the NZRFU were vocal proponents for radical change, spearheading both the inauguration of the Rugby World Cup in 1987 and the repeal of the amateur regulations in 1995.

See also:

Part 1- The Rugby Football Union

Part 2- The Scottish Rugby Union

Part 3- World Rugby

Part 4- The Northern Union

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