Story: Sport and the nation

The New Zealand rugby team, 1893

In 1892 the New Zealand Rugby Football Union was formed, and the following year this team was selected to tour Australia. It was therefore New Zealand's first official national rugby team, although at this stage neither the Canterbury nor Otago unions agreed to have their players included. The captain was Tom Ellison, originally from Otago but who then played for Wellington. He had taken part in the Native tour of 1888–89 and had also been responsible for the choice of black singlet with silver fern as the national uniform. The team were not accorded the good treatment later teams received – on the voyage to Australia on the Wakatipu, the players were not given cabins and had to bunk down on the floor of the saloon, much to their disgust. The team won nine out of 10 games, but were beaten by New South Wales.

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Alexander Turnbull Library, Crown Studios Collection
Reference: 1/1-032957-F

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Sport and the nation - Beginnings of sporting nationalism', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 May 2022)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 5 Sep 2013