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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



A Printer's Error?

The name All Blacks is given to members of Rugby Union Football teams which represent New Zealand. It came into vogue during the 1905 tour of the British Isles by the “Original” All Blacks, as that team is now called. According to the statement (July 1964) of W. J. Wallace, one of the four surviving members of the 1905 team, the title was the result of a printer's error. It appears that R. J. Seddon, then Premier of New Zealand, had arranged with the Daily Mail (London) to cover the tour, with the result that a reporter, Buttery, travelled everywhere with the team. After the match against the Hartlepool Clubs on 11 October 1905, at West Hartlepool, which New Zealand won 63–0, Buttery reported that the whole team, backs and forwards alike, had played with speed and precision as if they were “all backs”. This comment was repeated after the Northumberland game on 14 October (31–0) and the Gloucester City Club match on 19 October (44–0). But when the New Zealand team arrived at Taunton to play Somerset County (21 October), they found the whole town placarded with posters welcoming the “All Blacks”. Buttery inquired into the matter and reported to the team's management committee that the printer had in error inserted an “1” in “Backs”. The name appealed and henceforth the players were known as All Blacks.


Alexander Hare McLintock, C.B.E., M.A., DIP.ED. (N.Z.), PH.D.(LOND.), Parliamentary Historian, Wellington.

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