July 11 - 1954 Invitational Clubs boom

The Barbarians club, for past representative players, based on the British club of the same name, was established in Auckland in 1937. The Harlequins (NZ) (1938) in Hamilton and the Centurions club (1939) in Wellington followed and further such clubs were established after World War II.

In general these clubs organized matches, some at first class level, many of lesser status, with the proceeds sometimes used to assist a charity or a rugby body that needed assistance. Two such matches took place on July 11 1954.

On July 11 1954 (a Sunday), the Centurions as part of a record six match first class programme, defeated Wellington at Athletic Park.

Centurions 24. C H Crimp, G G Mexted & Roy W Smith tries. R W H Scott & J G Dougan dropped goals. J L Kinvig pen goal. J L Kinvig (2) & R W H Scott cons.

Wellington 9. N N Nicholls & L A Clark tries. N N Nicholls dropped goal

Referee. Mr B E Parkinson (Wellington).

As the Centurions saw their 1954 season.

“The Club was honoured in 1954 with Sandy Weir being appointed President of the Union whilst still maintaining the presidency of his club and the chairmanship of Centurions – a fairly heavy commitment in one season. For the first time the selectors comprised of the Club executive and a record six first class matches were organised with only one loss – against Wellington B. The Club broke new ground in travelling to Greymouth to play West Coast and, in all over 60 players represented the club in a very busy season. The Nelson Union now guaranteed expenses up to £100 ($200) and hotel accommodation and a tidy sum was collected from a half share of the Horowhenua match. The match against the A reps in July helped raise £1700 ($3400) for the Harry Squires City Mission Memorial Fund.

The sale of ties and scarves at £1 and £2 respectively generated much needed income with all financial members entitled to buy a tie but all giveaways strictly subject to a committee decision, and severe rules introduced concerning the illegal wearing of club memorabilia.”

From “Halfway THE FIRST 50 YEARS OF CENTURIONS RUGBY”, p. 23. Published Wellington Oct. 1989.

Also on July 11, at Bedford Park, Matamata the locally based Corinthian club was playing the Barbarians from Auckland in a match to “assist a Matamata club in its first season”. The Corinthian club had been founded in 1946 but 1954 was the first season in which its matches were of first class status.

Corinthians 24. P R Bull (2), J T Graham, B A C Cowley, H C McLaren & J C Carson tries. D B Clarke 3 cons.

Barbarians 15. A J Tretheway, R F McMullen, & W H Vernon tries. N J G Bowden dropped goal & pen.

Referee. Mr Ralph Settle (Waikato).

Graham Mexted

Hugh McLaren