May 11 - 1919 NZ Army team leaves Europe
Since December 16 1918 the New Zealand Army team had played some 45 recorded matches in the British Isles and France, some at first class level, some not. Among those matches was the winning of the King’s Cup tournament, sometimes referred to as Rugby’s first World Cup. There would too have been games played by other New Zealand units that were of lesser quality and for which no records at all are readily available.
The sequence of matches in Europe ended in Toulouse on May 11 1919, against a French Selection, with the Army winning a close encounter 14-13. It was regarded as a second class game by rugby historians, with no record of players or scorers kept. But the match, played six months after the Armistice, was significant in marking the end of the New Zealand Army’s very successful involvement in British Rugby following World War I.
For the top Army side there was still a controversial fifteen match tour of South Africa to come. That tour, the first by a New Zealand side in South Africa, proved successful and popular with the white South African population. The controversy was that West Indian born All Black 'Ranji' Wilson along with Maori players Parekura Tureia and Charles Tepene were excluded from the South African tour because of their race.