Black, Black, Black
Author: Bob Luxford 2003
At the first Annual General Meeting of the NZRFU, held on 27 April 1893, “It was resolved that the New Zealand Representative colours should be Black Jersey with Silver Fernleaf, Black Cap with Silver Monogram, White Knickerbockers and Black Stockings, on the motion of Mr Ellison (later that season to captain the first official New Zealand side), seconded by Mr King.” This article looks at some of the changes that have occurred in the All Blacks’ playing and leisure kit since.
SOME MEMBERS OF THE 1893 NEW ZEALAND TEAM
Why only twelve players? This particular photo was taken by a Brisbane studio. One of the team’s games in Brisbane was against a 'Queensland 2nd XVIII'. Twelve New Zealanders against eighteen Queenslanders, that would be a fair contest!
The 1924-5 “Invincibles” before their tour to Britain were photographed both individually and as a team in the “N Z” jerseys. But on tour they seem to have had two sets of jerseys, with the fern set at different angles, and without the letters “NZ”.
The 1928 All Blacks in South Africa wore socks with two white bands when their team photo was taken in Wellington before departure. But in South Africa their socks had just one band. Meanwhile, back in New Zealand the “best of the rest” All Blacks were playing New South Wales, in socks with two bands.The minor variances in the twenties between what was worn in New Zealand and overseas rather suggests that some playing gear was supplied offshore and when delivered turned out to be not quite as expected.
A H “Gus” Hart whose only All Black representation was in 1924/5 in the style of jersey the “Invincibles” wore for their pre-departure photos.
The 1924/5 All Black team photo taken at Newton Abbott before the tour started. The fern is much more erect than previously. One copy of this photo is captioned “The famous New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Football Team in St Margaret Jerseys 1924-25 Tour.” Presumably St Margaret supplied/manufactured this set of jerseys.
The All Black and Oxford University teams before their 1924 match. Most of the All Blacks have the “erect” fern but Mark Nicholls (back row left), Les Cupples and “Bull” Irvine (middle row) and Alan Robilliard (front row) have the more usual “eight o’clock to two o’clock” slope. Read Masters (back row, white headgear) seems to be fernless.
THE HALF BLACKS
There were few, if any, obvious changes of consequence to the All Black playing kit for the next 50 years. Except that against Scotland in test matches in New Zealand the white jersey had a black collar and a black fern embroidered onto the jersey. By the 1980s the silver fern emblem had become, mostly because of All Black successes, a highly marketable emblem. To guard against commercial exploitation the NZRFU, with Andy Haden as marketing adviser, in 1986 copyrighted a stylised version of the fern over the words “NEW ZEALAND ALL BLACKS”.
The copyrighted silver fern emblem. The 1986 version is on the left and the 2003 modification to the right.
The Canterbury logo stayed on the right for just one season, then moved to the centre of the jersey to make room for another sponsor’s label, a predominantly red “Steinlager” flash. In this period labelling, though still relatively unobtrusive, spread to the shorts which featured the silver fern plus the manufacturer’s and sponsor’s logos.
Ian Clarke spoke against sponsorship on the All Blacks jersey
Alama Ieremia in the jersey with the black collar
CAPS, BLAZERS, TIES.
1905 All Blacks - Mona Thomson, Billy Wallace and Fred Roberts - wore their own suits, ties and bowler hats
1913 All Black Dick Roberts with his boater hat and blazer