October 17 - 1982 Manawatu tour USA

New Zealand provincial unions had begun touring overseas in 1973, firstly to Australia, occasionally and briefly to Fiji. Taranaki broke the mould with a 1979 tour to the UK, France and Japan, then in 1982 Counties visited Argentina, Wellington the British Isles and Manawatu were the first New Zealand union to play in the USA.

Manawatu’s tour involved four games, all in different centres, with three won and the fourth lost by a single point.

A party of 27 (20 players) toured California during October playing games in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco with one in Hawaii on the way home. Each game had its sidelights unusual to N.Z. rugby. Prior to the San Diego game a local player was seen wandering about the field with a shovel, filling in gopher holes (a type of ground squirrel). At Los Angeles the goal posts were erected on the soccer field moments before kick-off, and taken down again at full-time. One of the touch judges was a young blonde female. At San Francisco fog drifted across the field from nearby Golden Gate bridge and in Hawaii giant toads leaped about the park before heavy rain fell in the second half causing spectators to run for shelter and the game being called off ten minutes from time. Finance for the tour was mainly raised by the Dollar-a-point sponsorship scheme and also a raffle.

From “MANAWATU RUGBY THE FIRST 100 YEARS” BY Clive Akers. P. 57-58.

Manawatu were captained in all four games by All Black Frank Oliver, with his locking partner in three of them Braedon Whitelock, the father of four sons, three of whom (Sam, George and Luke) became All Blacks.

Results were:

Oct. 17 Manawatu 21 Bar-bearians 16. Played at Robb Field, San Diego

Manawatu: Scott, Shaw and Chapman tries. Bryson 3 conversions, dropped goal.

Bar-bearians: Jefferson try. Smith four penalties.

Most of the Bar-bearians had played for the US Eagles, the four who had not had represented California (Grizzlies).

All Black Gary Knight was unavailable for this match as he was playing for the British Barbarians

Oct. 21 Manawatu 33 Sthn California Griffins 6. Played at Golden West College, Westminster, L A.

Manawatu: Williams (2), Bryson, Scott and Innes tries. Bryson and Innes Conversions, Bryson (2) and Innes penalties.

Sthn California Griffins: Blahnik try, Smith conversion.

Oct. 24 Manawatu 14 Nthn California Golden Poppies 15. Played at Polo Fields, San Francisco.

Manawatu: Bryson, Shaw and Tatana tries. Bryson conversion.

Nthn California Golden Poppies: Unidentified scorer try, Armstrong onversion and 3 penalties.

Oct 27 Manawatu 38 v Hawaii Harlequins 4. Played at Kapiolani Park, Waikiki.

Manawatu: Bryson, Coplestone, Tatana, Carroll, Shaw, Fleming and Knight conversions. Bryson 5 conversions.

Not a first class fixture.

Frank Oliver was captain in all four games