GALLAHER, David (“Dave”)
Captain of the 1905 All Blacks.
A new biography of Gallaher, David appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Dave Gallaher was born in 1875 at Ramelton, Northern Ireland, the son of James and Maria Gallaher, who emigrated to New Zealand as members of G. Vesey Stewart's settlement near Tauranga. On leaving school Gallaher worked in the Auckland Freezing Works, becoming a departmental foreman. On 10 October 1906, at All Saints Church, Auckland, he married Ellen Ivy May, daughter of J. P. E. Francis, and sister of A. H. Francis, the Auckland rugby representative, and member of the 1908 All Blacks.
Gallaher took an active interest in rugby, representing Auckland Province from 1896 to 1904 (captain, 1903) and the North Island in 1903. He represented New Zealand on the Australian tour (1903), and captained the 1905 All Blacks in their tour of the British Isles, France, and America, leading his team in the memorable match against Wales on 16 December 1905. On 25 October 1905, before an estimated crowd of 19,000 in the match New Zealand (21) versus Devonport Albion (3), Gallaher scored his only try of the tour — the result of a brilliant 50 yards dash. Gallaher represented New Zealand in 36 matches and scored 11 points (3 tries and 1 conversion). As befitted one who was 6 ft tall and weighed 13 stone, he played among the forwards, pioneering the wing-forward position. This was a novelty in the 1905 tour and gave rise to much controversy especially when it was seen how effectively Gallaher was screening his halfback at crucial moments in the play. On his return to New Zealand Gallaher was sole selector for Auckland for some years.
Gallaher served with the New Zealand contingents in the Boer War, and enlisted with the 22nd Reinforcements in the First World War, reaching the rank of sergeant-major. He died of wounds on 4 October 1917, at the 3rd Australian Clearing Station in France. Gallaher has every claim to be regarded as the “greatest wing forward New Zealand ever produced”. He was a fine leader and sportsman.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- History of New Zealand Rugby Football 1870–1945, Swan, A. C. (1948)
- The Triumphant Tour of the New Zealand Footballers, Dixon, G. H. (1906)
- New Zealand Herald, 13 Oct 1917 (Obit).