Story: Rugby union

Replay of New Zealand's first game of rugby

Replay of New Zealand's first game of rugby

In 2011, during the Rugby World Cup, there was a re-enactment of the first game played under rugby rules in New Zealand, on the original site – the Observation Hill reserve in Nelson. The first game was played on 14 May 1870 between the Nelson town football club and Nelson College. The re-enactment, watched by about 5,000 spectators, emphasised how far the original game consisted of large rolling mauls, as shown here. Points were not scored when a player touched the ball down over the goal line, but only when they kicked a conversion after the touchdown and so ‘converted’ the ‘try’ into points.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Jock Phillips

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How to cite this page:

Ron Palenski, 'Rugby union - History of rugby', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/39998/replay-of-new-zealands-first-game-of-rugby (accessed 8 December 2019)

Story by Ron Palenski, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Sep 2016