June 23 - 1888 NZ 'Natives' tour begins

The “Natives” tour of over 100 rugby matches and eight games of Victorian Rules in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand occupied fourteen months, from June 1888 to August 1889, the most remarkable tour in rugby history. Though the tour party had not fully assembled the “Natives” played their very first match on June 23 1888, in Napier against Hawkes Bay.

The Daily Telegraph spread their comprehensive match report over two issues, as seen below.



Considerable interest has for some time past been taken in the match which eventuated to-day. Mr Warbrick has been so much associated with Hawke’s Bay football, and this province being strongly represented in his team, it was but natural that he should desire to play his first match against the local men, whose peculiarities and weaknesses must, in a great measure, be known to him. So much depends on a good start that it is quite evident Warbrick and his men will leave nothing undone today that can aid them in a victory. Most of the men are in good training, and seem as hard as nails, and yet they have plenty of condition, which ought to carry them through a hard season’s work without any sign of staleness being shown. Ever since the football season has commenced we have been afforded glimpses of individual play, which has excited our curiosity as to whether the rank and file are equally good. Last Saturday, for instance, all who witnessed Gage’s play for the Pirates was delighted with his style, and if the others in their places are equally reliable, they will be a hard nut to crack for some of the Rugby Unions at Home, while they ought to be too good for most clubs. Their opponents to-day are sure to play their best, so as to justify their appearance in the team, for never has the work of a selection committee been more adversely criticised. It may be, and probably is, the true explanation that while we have at present very few players conspicuous for their excellence, there is a general high uniformity which causes the work of selection to be surrounded with unusual difficulties. At least twelve of the fifteen representing Hawke’s Bay have been challenged, and their fitness for the team questioned, consequently every man will do his utmost to try and prove his fitness for the individual post.

The weather is very suitable for the game, the sun shining out brilliantly, preventing the coldness being too great, while the ground is in very good condition for the match. The absence of any strong wind will also tend to put both sides on an equality,

ATTENDANCE AND COLORS. There was a capital attendance when the match commenced. The local men were resplendent in black and white bars, while the Maoris wore black with a silver fern tree on their breasts.

TEAMS. The following are the names of the respective teams, and the places occupied in the field:—

Hawke’s Bay.—Full-back, Jim Fleming: three-quarters, McKay, Ross, and Le-Quesue; halves, Norris and Dempsey; wings, Patterson and Morrison; forwards, Hawkins (captain), Symonds, McKenzie, Hughes, Moore, John Fleming, and Corbott. Umpire, Mr Logan.

Maori team.—Full-back, Nehua; threequarters, Gage, J. Warbrick (captain), and W. Wynyard; halves, W. Warbriok and Ihimaira ; forwards, Ellison, Williams, R. Taiaroa, Rene, Anderson, Arthur Warbrick, Taare, G. Wynyard, and Karauria. Umpire, Mr W. Potts. Referee, Mr Percy.


FIRST SPELL. Hawkins won the toss, and decided, as a matter of course, to play with the sun at his back, and the slight breeze also favoured him. Warbrick kicked off for the Maoris, the ball going into Ross’s hands, who, in return, kicked against a Maori forward, and the ball went, into touch. On the throw-out a scrum ensued in front of the Hawke’s Bay goal. Warbrick got a pass, and sent the ball to W. Wynyard, who took a pot at goal, but went wide. Wynyard, in returning the kick-out, sent the ball into touch at half distance. Dempsey, by a screw punt, sent the ball into touch at the Maori flag. W. Warbrick got a mark in his own quarter, and Morrison carried the ball within a few yards of the Maori goal-line. LeQuesne got a pass, but sent the ball on to McKay, who had a pot at goal, but failed to score. From the kick-out the ball went into touch at half-way flag. On the throw-out Ellison dribbled on to Hawke’s Bay twenty-five. Warbrick made a run, passed to Gage, who was floored in the Hawke’s Bay twenty-five. Warbrick got another pass, but slipped and passed to W. Wynyard, who was brought down on his opponents’ goal-line. Gage got a pass shortly after, and potted a neat goal. Maoris three points. After the kick-off Taiaroa made a good dribble, followed by a run by W. Wynyard, who was collared on the goal-line, but too late, by Fleming. No goal resulted from this try. Maoris four points. LeQuesne kicked off into touch past the centre. Ross did a fair run, and Hughes stopped a rush. A pretty piece of passing, was shown by Warbrick to Wynyard, Wynyard to Gage, the latter player winding up with a short run. Ellison and Taiaroa led a rush, which was stopped in the Hawke’s Bay quarter, and the Maoris pressed Hawke’s Bay very hard. A good throw-out by W. Warbrick, thence to Gage, and Gage to J. Warbrick, the latter player trying to get in, and on being collared passed again, but Morrison got the ball. From a throw-out Wynyard passed to J. Warbrick, who in turn passed to Gage, who kicked and forced Hawke’s Bay down. J. Warbrick did a short run, and was well brought down by Patterson. Jack Fleming received the ball from a throw-out, and carried it on to the centre touch. Ross secured a mark at centre flag, and sent the ball into touch at the Maori quarters. Williams attempted a run, but was overturned by Hawkins. Gage did a good dodgy run, and passed to Wynyard, carrying the play on to the Hawke’s Bay line. Wynyard got a pass, and attempted to pot, but LeQuesue got the ball and took a clear run to half way. Gage did another dodgy run, but was collared by Ross, the latter player punting to touch at half way flag. A long scrum took place on the Hawke’s Bay line at the corner. From several passes W. Wynyard had another pot at goal, but went wide. Norris got the ball, and had his first spin, being driven into touch past the half-way flag. On account of a throw forward by Wynyard in his own quarters a well contested scrum took place in front of the Maoris’ goal. Ross got a pass, and had an easy pot at goal, but went too low. By good passing, and well directed kicking the Maoris worked the ball into their opponents’ quarters, when W. Warbrick essayed a pot, but went wide. He, however, followed up fast, and almost got a touch down.”


Note: The above report appeared in the “Daily Telegraph” on June 23 i.e. on match day. The following account of play in the second half was in the “Telegraph” on Monday June 25.



On ends being changed Hawkins kicked off, the ball being returned by Wynyard, and LeQuesne sent it into touch at the half-, way flag. The Maori forwards got on a rush, which was stopped by Symonds. Ross, in attempting a kick, got his line in jeopardy, which was only averted by Symonds dropping on the ball, Wynyard got a mark at a difficult angle, but a force down only resulted. Patterson relieved his line by a dribble, and Fleming did likewise with a good punt to half-way. Rene led a rush, and Smiler followed it up with a strong run, but was brought down by Fleming. Ross made a good run and passed to McKay, who sent the ball into touch. From a mark the same player gained some ground by kicking into touch. Dempsey made an attempt twice to get away, but was brought down. A good rush, led by Patterson, relieved the Hawke’s Bay line, and Gage, in attempting to recover the lost ground, was well collared by Patterson. The Maori forwards gradually worked the ball into Hawke’s Bay quarters, where several scrums ensued, till W. Warbrick passed to Gage, who potted ineffectually at goal. Gage and Fleming exchanged marks, the ball going into touch near the half-way flag. Gage passed to Smiler, thence to Wynyard, who was collared by Ross, and sent into touch at Hawke’s Bay twenty-five. Shortly after Hawke’s Bay was forced down. W. Warbrick got a mark from the kick-out, and his brother Joe took a place at goal, which, although a good kick, just fell short, and McKay returned the ball into touch at his twenty-five flag. Norris did a flutter, finishing up with by playing into touch. The ball travelled across the field by some fast play, in which Patterson, Ellison, Norris, and W. Warbrick were conspicuous. The Maori three-quarters did some pretty long passing, carrying the ball across the field. This long passing they picked up from the Englishmen. A rush, led by Patterson and Dempsey, carried the ball to the Maori twenty-five flag. The Maori forwards changed the scene of play to Hawke’s Bay territory, where Ross kicked the ball against an opposing forward, and Fleming just averted a try by falling on the ball on the line. On the kick-out J. Warbrick got the ball and did the best run of the day, going through his men very cleverly. A scrum ensued on the Hawke’s Bay goal line, resulting in Hawke’s Bay being forced down. Joe Warbrick passed to Gage, who ran to Hawke’s Bay flag, where Wynyard got a pass, and looked like scoring, but Fleming at full-back forced him into touch at the corner flag. A free kick to Hawkins for off-side play was given. Shortly after Hawke’s Bay was forced down again. Patterson and Norris relieved their goal line by a good dribble to half-way flag. Joe Warbrick ran to Hawke’s Bay twenty five flag. The Maori forwards gradually worked the ball close to the line, where Ellison got the ball and crossed the line. Ellison took the kick at goal, but nothing resulted, though it was an easy chance. Maoris, five points. Dempsey made a short run, but threw the ball forward and a scrum ensued. Norris made a good run and passed to Ross, who in, turn was collared. Dempsey made a short run and passed to McKay, who was brought down, and the Maori forwards rushed the ball down the field. Close to Hawke’s Bay goal line Wynyard passed to Warbrick, who made a desperate attempt to score, but was brought down close on the goal-line, and Hawke’s Bay was forced down. Patterson did a splendid dribble past the half-way flag, and Hughes prevented a return. Some more dribbling by Patterson and the result was the Maoris were forced down. Ross returned the kick out to touch at Maori twenty-five, and time was called, leaving the Maoris victors.

Score: — Maoris 5 points Hawke’s Bay Nil.

In reviewing the play it is apparent the backs of the Maori team are excellent and showed better play than the Hawke’s Bay backs while the forwards of Hawke’s Bay were equal to their opponents. The passing of the Maori three-quarters was splendid by being long and straight, sending the oval from hand to hand across the field in quick succession, which they no doubt will turn to better account as their tour advances. The halves proved themselves very active, although Ihimaira has not quite got rid of the selfishness displayed hitherto. On the line-out the Maori forwards played well into their backs by passing instead of gaining a yard or two by main strength. The fullback was seldom called upon to distinguish himself, but when he was he kicked fairly well.

Of the Hawke’s Bay forwards Patterson by his dribbling, and Symonds by stopping rushes, were conspicuous, whilst Jack Fleming on the line-out was noticeable. Dempsey at half-back did some serviceable punts, but his partner got but few shows to try his speed. The three-quarters were headed by Ross with collaring, although dangerously once or twice by faulty kicking. Fleming at full-back had a lot of work, collaring splendidly and clearing his lines by good punts.”