22 May 1884 - First match by a New Zealand rep side

After the New South Wales tour of New Zealand in 1882 an invitation was issued by the Southern RFU (later renamed New South Wales RFU) for a New Zealand visit. With no national rugby body Dunedin businessman Samuel Sleigh and Christchurch barrister William Millton (also a leading player) took upon themselves the arranging of the tour. After selection there was more or less equal representation from the four provincial unions then in existence (Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago), though a number of selected players withdrew, mostly through work requirements, and replacements found. Finally a team of 19 made the eight match tour. Sleigh was the team’s manager and William Millton the captain.

'Darby' Ryan scored the first points for New Zealand

It was generally agreed that the team was a very judicious selection, considering the difficulties associated in getting a first-class team from one colony to another. Among the unlucky players were Bob Galbraith of Otago and J.W. Perry of Wellington.

The assembly of the team was not without incident. Warbrick missed the steamer taking the Auckland players to Wellington and had to take a later vessel direct to Sydney. The Invercargill player James O’Donnell was arrested on a fugitive warrant at Clinton as he made his way to join the team in Wellington. He was returned to Invercargill where a number of local tradespeople to whom he was indebted had taken out the warrant after learning that O’Donnell was unlikely to return from Australia. However, when O’Donnell came up in court none of his creditors appeared so he regained his freedom and was able to continue his journey to Wellington.

A match against a Wellington XV set down for Wednesday, 21 May, was postponed owing to the boisterous weather and greasy nature of the ground. The bad weather cleared the next day and the game was played on a sloppy pitch at Newtown Park. Two of the New Zealand team, Ned Davy and Edward Millton, played for the local side.

Because of the state of the field only two 25-minute spells were played, with New Zealand having the advantage of the strong breeze in the first half.

After 10 minutes Ryan potted a goal and shortly before halftime Roberts scored when the local fullback Pauling could not secure the ball after an abortive pot at goal by Dumbell. Ryan landed the goal to make the score 9—0 at halftime.

The second half was hard-fought but no further scoring occurred. Taiaroa, Ryan, Allan and Roberts were considered by the press to have been most prominent in the New Zealand team, with Campbell, Cooper and King singled out in the local side.

After the match the touring team were escorted to the wharf by members of the rugby fraternity to join the steamer Hauroto, which had been held until the completion of the match to allow the team to embark.

Four uneventful days at sea saw the tourists amuse themselves by participating in quoits, wrestling, boxing and similar pastimes. When the seas were calm enough a type of football was played and on the final day a North Island versus South tug-of-war resulted in a win for the North by two pulls to one.

As the Hauroto steamed up Sydney harbour a football was run up to the mast-head.

“Centenary 100 Years of All Black Rugby” by R H Chester & N A C McMillan. Moa Publication 1984 p. 17.