December 22 - 1945 NZ Services lose in Dublin

The NZ Services team suffered just two losses in their impressive 1945-6 season. The first was to a Cardiff team with the formidable midfield combination of Jackie Matthews and Bleddyn Williams, plus the all round skills of Billy Cleaver, three players who had fine tours of New Zealand with the 1950 Lions.

The second loss was on December 22 in Dublin where they went down 6 – 12 to an Old Belvedere Selection.

Hooker for the Old Belvedere Selection was Karl Mullen, later to captain Ireland to a Grand Slam in 1948 and lead the 1950 Lions. Clontarf wing F G Moran had represented Ireland 1936-39 whilst two of the three Quinns appearing (B T and K) went on to play for Ireland.

That win against the Services has not been forgotten by Old Belvedere and is recorded on their website:

“A highlight of this period was the 12-6 victory of an Old Belvedere selected side against New Zealand Services in December 1945 and it remains the only defeat of a New Zealand representative side in Ireland other than the famous Munster win in 1978.”

The New Zealand Services team, in the five seasons it operated, is recorded as playing just one game in Ireland, against the Old Belvedere Selection. However, other teams of New Zealand military personnel may have played in Ireland. Whether the following anecdote relates to the match with Old Belverdere in 1945, or ever happened at all, is not known, but we think it worth recounting.

“A New Zealand Services team (not to be confused with the 1945-46 Kiwis Army team) played a host of matches in Britain and France during World War II. One team member recalls them being well and truly hammered on a trip to Ireland.

Their “opposition” took them out on the town the night before the game, and resisted the New Zealander’s thoughts of an early night: “It’s only us you are playing”.

But come match time it was a different Irish team that fronted, with the “mates” from the previous night watching blearily from the stand.”

From “Manawatu Evening Standard” Rugby Museum column 5 August 2006.