OUR ALL BLACKS
Representative Teams: All Blacks 1994-1995
Representative Teams: All Blacks 1908 & 1913
Representative Teams: All Blacks 1992-1995
Date of birth: 23/04/1884
Representative Teams: All Blacks Otago
Position: Loose Forward
James Graham shared with his Southern club team-mate, James Douglas, who was also an All Black, the dubious distinction of being disqualifed from the game for allegedly accepting a bribe to throw a Dunedin club match in 1915.
The punishment came after another Otago All Black, Alf Eckhold, had left the field in disgust during the club’s match against University, apparently suggesting that some of his team-mates were not trying. The Southern club, it has to be said, always staunchly supported the two players and the bans were later lifted after several appeals were launched on their behalf.
Southern believed that faced with the threat of professionalism and the challenge of rugby league the game’s authorities had been guilty of a gross over reaction.
Graham, born in Dunedin and educated at Lawrence High School, was an aggressive loose forward and a capable goalkicker who made his All Black debut against Wellington, just before departing on tour to North America, in 1913 at the advanced age of 29. In North American tour he played in 11 matches contributing 66 points from four tries, 24 conversions and two penalties. In the official test against All America he converted four of the tries in the 51-3 win.
Graham retained his place in the All Blacks on the 1914 tour of Australia. He played in seven matches, including the first and third tests, and kicked five conversions.
Between 1908 and 1915 Graham played 21 matches for Otago. He also played for the South Island in 1910 and 1914, making 42 first class appearances in all. He also represented Otago at cricket and a son, J G Graham played for Otago 1945,49,50.
Profile by Lindsay Knight for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.
FULL NAME James Buchan Graham
BORN Wednesday, 23 April 1884 in Dunedin
DIED Thursday, 15 May 1941 in Auckland
POSITION Loose Forward
LAST SCHOOL Lawrence High
RUGBY CLUB (First made All Blacks from) Southern
ALL BLACK DEBUT Wednesday, 10 September 1913 v Wellington at Wellington aged 29 years, 140 days
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 15 November 1913 v USA at Berkeleyaged 29 years, 206 days
LAST TEST Saturday, 15 August 1914 v Australia at Sydneyaged 30 years, 114 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 3 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK GAMES 16 (0 as Captain)
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 19 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK TEST POINTS 10pts (0t, 5c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
ALL BLACK GAME POINTS 66pts (4t, 24c, 2p, 0dg, 0m)
TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS 76pts (4t, 29c, 2p, 0dg, 0m)
ALL BLACK NUMBER 189
The All Black Games that Graham played. (+) = substitute; (-) = replaced
Date of birth: 11/07/1890
James Douglas was a tough Otago forward who with his Southern clubmate James Graham, who was also an All Black, became central figures in a major controversy in Dunedin rugby in 1915.
After a complaint from another team-mate, fellow All Black Alf Eckhold, who had walked from the field in apparent disgust, that players were not trying in a particular club match the Otago union held an inquiry which resulted in Douglas and Graham being expelled from the sport for allegedly accepting bribes. Illegal betting on sports events at that time 025was common.
For its part the Southern club strongly supported the two players and in 1922 Douglas, who had in fact appeared at the end of World War I for the New Zealand Army team, was readmitted to the game.
As a loose forward Douglas played 15 games for Otago between 1912 and 1915. After playing for the South Island in 1913 he was included in the All Black team for the tour of North America.
He occasionally suffered from injuries, was limited to just eight of the 16 matches and did not play in the official international against All America. But he had an eventful and effective tour, scoring seven tries including three against the University of Nevada at Reno and a double against St Mary’s College in Oakland.
And he was also involved in some trauma late in the tour when in the match against a British Columbia team in Victoria, Canada, a local player, Peter Ogden, collapsed and later died from his injury.
Douglas and the All Black captain, Alex McDonald, were subpoenaed to appear at the coroner’s inquest, but the death was found to have been accidental and the All Blacks were absolved of any responsibility.
FULL NAME James Burt Douglas
BORN Friday, 11 July 1890 in Shag Point
DIED Monday, 21 December 1964 in Dunedin
LAST SCHOOL Unknown
ALL BLACK DEBUT Wednesday, 10 September 1913v Wellington at Wellington aged 23 years, 61 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 0 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK GAMES 9 (0 as Captain)
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 9 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK GAME POINTS 24pts (8t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS 24pts (8t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
ALL BLACK NUMBER 188
The All Black Games that Douglas played. (+) = substitute; (-) = replaced
Points scored for the All Blacks
Douglas played in no test matches for the All Blacks.
Date of birth: 28/12/1885
Representative Teams: Southern (Club) Otago New Zealand
Bert Eckhold was a small inside back from the famous Dunedin club, Southern.
He was Australian born and educated and came to New Zealand as a teenager, where he developed into a reliable and consistent footballer.
Over a 10-year period he appeared for Otago in 53 matches, a remarkably high tally in a period when the number of representative matches in most seasons could be counted on the fingers of the hand.
Eckhold also made two appearances for the South Island and in 1907 at the age of 21 he made the eight match tour of Australia which included three official tests against the Australian national team.
Eckhold was the second string first five to the more experienced Simon Mynott who was preferred in all of the tests. But Eckhold played against New South Wales and in two matches against Queensland.
In the 1920s Eckhold was prominent again in rugby as a first class referee. In 1923 he controlled an unofficial “test” between the All Blacks and New South Wales and also had charge of four Ranfurly Shield matches: Hawke’s Bay against Auckland in 1923, two famous matches involving Hawke’s Bay magic year of 1926, against Wellington (won 58-8) and Canterbury (won 17-15 at Lancaster Park) and Canterbury against South Canterbury in 1928.
As a cricketer he also represented Otago and was a rifle shooter of note.
Eckhold’s son in law was Harry Simon, the halfback in the celebrated Southern club, Otago and All Black (against the Springboks in 1937) inside back pairing with Dave Trevathan.
Profile courtesy of Lindsay Knight for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.
FULL NAME Alfred George Eckhold
BORN Monday, 28 December 1885 in Adelaide
DIED Saturday, 24 October 1931 in Dunedin
ALL BLACK DEBUT Wednesday, 17 July 1907v N.S.W. at Sydney aged 21 years, 201 days
ALL BLACK GAMES 3 (0 as Captain)
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 3 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK GAME POINTS 0pts
TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS 0pts
ALL BLACK NUMBER 147
The All Black Games that Eckhold played. (+) = substitute; (-) = replaced
Eckhold did not score any points for the All Blacks.
Eckhold played in no test matches for the All Blacks
Date of birth: 22/12/1882
Representative Teams: All Blacks Otago Southern
Born in Dunedin and educated there at Christian Brothers’ School, Casey, who played for the Southern Club, first represented Otago as a twenty year old in 1903. The following year he progressed to the South Island team and in 1905 was selected in the “Originals”, the 1905/6 All Blacks who made a wonderfully successful tour through Great Britain.
With Aucklander George Tyler, Steve Casey formed a most effective front row combination in the 2-3-2 scrum formation then used. He played in the tests against Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales.
He toured again with the All Blacks, to Australia in 1907, playing in all three internationals. His front row partner that year was “Ned” Hughes who 14 years later created his own little piece of rugby history by playing against the 1921 Springboks, at 40 years of age.
Steve Casey played once more for New Zealand, in 1908 against the Anglo-Welsh, but was not called on again, though he continued turning out for Otago until 1913. In all he played 99 first class matches, 38 of them for New Zealand, including 9 tests.
Despite his 38 matches for the All Blacks Casey never scored a point for them. His front row partners did better, Tyler picking up 5 tries in his 36 appearances and Hughes 1 from 6 matches.
Profile by Bob Luxford for the New Zealand Rugby Museum.
FULL NAME Stephen Timothy Casey
BORN Sunday, 24 December 1882 in Dunedin
DIED Wednesday, 10 August 1960 in Dunedin
PHYSICAL 1.78m, 78kg
LAST SCHOOL Christian Brothers’ School (Dunedin)
ALL BLACK DEBUT Saturday, 1 July 1905v Auckland at Aucklandaged 22 years, 189 days
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 18 November 1905v Scotland at Edinburgh aged 22 years, 329 days
LAST TEST Saturday, 6 June 1908v British & Irish Lions at Dunedinaged 25 years, 165 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 8 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK GAMES 30 (0 as Captain)
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 38 (0 as Captain)
ALL BLACK TEST POINTS 0pts
ALL BLACK NUMBER 116
Date of birth: 20/04/1979
Representative Teams: All Blacks 2001-02 Highlanders & Chiefs Otago & Waikato
For most of his near decade, in New Zealand in first class rugby, between 1999 and 2008, Tom Willis always rated among the country’s top half dozen hookers. But while he gained plenty of honours, including captaining the All Blacks, Willis never quite won the recognition he perhaps deserved.
He suffered from two misfortunes. He had an appalling run with injuries and either missed or gained only limited game time in several crucial seasons: in 2002 with Otago, in 2004-05 with Waikato and the entire 2005 Super 12 with the Chiefs.
Willis also played in an era in which New Zealand possessed considerable depth in the hooking position. Anton Oliver, Mark Hammett, Kevin Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Derren Witcombe and Corey Flynn were among his contemporaries. Indeed, before he and Hore both moved north, there were a number of seasons in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when they and Oliver were all based in Otago.
Still, for all the competition he faced and his injury setbacks, Wills compiled an excellent record for all the teams for which he appeared: Otago, the Highlanders, Waikato and the Chiefs. He also had the distinction of playing in the Waikato side which won the inaugural Air New Zealand provincial premiership in 2006, then in 2007 he led Waikato to a Ranfurly Shield success over North Harbour.
When fully fit and injury-free, Willis was a vigorous forward. He was top value in both loose and tight, and an extremely accurate lineout thrower, probably the country’s best.
A product of King’s High School in Dunedin and the celebrated Southern club, Willis showed promise at an early age, having a solid rugby pedigree. His father, Eion, also a hooker, was a Southern stalwart who played twice for Otago B in 1980, then in 1983, his club-mate Laurie Mains, having become Otago’s coach, made him captain in his one and only A representative appearance.
At King’s Tom Willis was captain of an outstanding first XV, which also contained Carl Hayman as his propping partner. Both were in the 1997 national secondary schools side and Willis in 1998 captained the national under 19s. He had previously played for New Zealand under 16 in 1995.
Oliver’s absence in 1999 because of All Black and World Cup commitments gave Willis his first chance at Otago representative level when as first choice he was preferred to Hore, older by just a few months and who had been a schoolboy rival.
In 2000 Willis was Oliver’s understudy with the Highlanders and in that same season he was in a strong national colts side, sharing the hooking duties with Mealamu. Despite the presence of Oliver, Willis played sufficiently well for Otago and the Highlanders to win a place in the All Black side to tour Ireland, Scotland and Argentina as Oliver’s deputy in late 2001.
An intelligent young man who successfully fitted his rugby career into university studies for a law degree, Willis showed impressive qualities and had the distinction of being the captain when he made his All Black debut against Ireland A. He continued in this role against Scotland A
With Oliver injured during the 2002 Super 12, then falling out of favour with new All Black coach John Mitchell, Willis looked to have a chance of securing an international position, sharing the hooker berth in the season’s domestic and tri-nations tests with Hammett. Willis played Italy, Fiji, came on as a replacement against the Springboks in Wellington then started tests against the Springboks in Durban and the Wallabies in Sydney.
But those five tests proved to be the last of his seven All Black games. He was injured during the 2002 NPC and missed the end of season tour, with Mealamu and Hore both moving ahead of him in the national pecking order.
Between 1999 and 2003 Willis played 43 games for Otago and 23 for the Highlanders. Moving to Hamilton in 2004 to gain more regular games, Willis found further frustration with injuries. But he played 26 Waikato games and 39 for the Chiefs and when he took up an overseas contract in Wales in 2008 had made 145 first class appearances, an imposing tally considering his many periods on the sideline.
Profile by Lindsay Knight for the New Zealand Rugby Museum
ALL BLACK DEBUT Tuesday, 13 November 2001v Ireland ‘A’ at Belfastaged 22 years, 207 days
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 8 June 2002v Italy at Hamiltonaged 23 years, 49 days
LAST TEST Saturday, 10 August 2002v South Africa at Durbanaged 23 years, 112 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 5 (1 as a substitute) 5
ALL BLACK GAMES 2 2
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 7 (1 as a substitute) 7
ALL BLACK CAPTAINCY 2 as Captain
ALL BLACK NUMBER 1012
ALL BLACK GAMES THAT WILLIS PLAYED
(+) = substitute; (-) = replaced
Willis did not score any points for the All Blacks.
Date of birth: 14/11/1979
Representative Teams: All Blacks 2001, 02, 04-07 Highlanders Otago
By the time he had left at the end of the 2007 World Cup for an overseas contract Carl Hayman, notwithstanding the All Blacks quarterfinal exit, was generally seen as the world’s best tighthead prop and one of the best New Zealand has produced in the position.
Scrum authorities generally rate him second only to the legendary strong man of the 1960s, Ken Gray, though comparisons between the modern era and those of 30 to 40 years ago have become increasingly difficult.
Hayman evoked many memories of Gray, for he, too, was considered too tall and with too long a back to be an ideal prop. Hayman, indeed, was even bigger than Gray: 1.93m (6ft 4in) as against Gray’s 1.88m (6.2). But, as with Gray, Hayman’s build did not appear to be too much of a handicap and in recent years there have been other international props with a similar physique.
Hayman’s virtues were a strong scrummaging technique, surprising mobility and nous in the open and, with the radical law changes in lineouts, considerable ability as an effective lifter.
In scrums, with Tony Woodcock on the loosehead side, and either Anton Oliver or Keven Mealamu hooking, the All Blacks front rows during the mid 2000’s were rarely bettered.
Though originally from Taranaki, Hayman moved to Otago with his family and his immense promise was first noted when he attended Dunedin’s King’s High School, from which he made the national schools and age group sides. From high school he moved onto Dunedin’s famous Southern club, though his involvement as a professional player has meant few club appearances.
Hayman played the first of 68 games for Otago in 1998 and was in the Highlanders in the Super 12 in 1999. But with other All Blacks Kees Meeuws, Carl Hoeft and Joe McDonnell ahead of him the 1998-99 seasons were effectively an apprenticeship. However, his promise had been noted at national level. In 1998-2000 he was in the New Zealand Colts and he was in the New Zealand A side which made a tour of Europe late in 2000, under the coaching of Robbie Deans and Steve Hansen.
In 2001 Hayman became the 1000th player to appear for the All Blacks when he went on as a replacement in 2001 test against Manu Samoa at the North Harbour Stadium. But Hayman took a while to establish a regular All Black spot, his later appearances in 2001 and 2002 being either sporadic or mainly as a substitute.
He was overlooked totally for the 2003 season and it was only in 2004, following an outstanding Super 12 with the Highlanders, and when John Mitchell had been replaced by Graham Henry as coach, that he became an All Blacks first choice. A touch of Maori ancestry enabled him to play for that national side as well, and he played a prominent part in the famous win over the touring Lions in Hamilton in 2005. He was awarded the Tom French Cuo for Maori Player of the Year in 2004.
Between 2004 and 2007 Hayman was the corner-stone of the All Black pack, and but for his departure at the end of 2007 for an overseas contract he would have added substantially to a test tally of 45 appearances. As well he had played 81 Super 12/14 games and 68 times for Otago.
As an extremely big man, Hayman was one of the All Blacks who seemed to be most disadvantaged by playing so sparingly through the 2007 season. He played well enough at the World Cup in France, but with not quite the same dominance and edge he had had shown in the previous three seasons.
Hayman was still a few weeks short of his 28th birthday when he moved off-shore, young in propping terms and clearly with plenty of top rugby left. That raised a hope that eventually New Zealand rugby might see him again.
FULL NAME Carl Joseph Hayman
BORN Wednesday, 14 November 1979 in Opunake
PHYSICAL 1.93m, 115kg
LAST SCHOOL King’s High
ALL BLACK DEBUT Saturday, 16 June 2001v Samoa at Albany aged 21 years, 214 days
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 16 June 2001v Samoa at Albany aged 21 years, 214 days
LAST TEST Saturday, 6 October 2007v France at Cardiff aged 27 years, 326 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 45 (8 as a substitute) 45
ALL BLACK GAMES 1 (1 as a substitute) 1
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 46 (9 as a substitute) 46
ALL BLACK TEST POINTS 10pts (2t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS 10pts (2t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
ALL BLACK NUMBER 1000
ALL BLACK GAMES THAT HAYMAN PLAYED
Date of birth: 30/11/1972
Representative Teams: All Blacks 1999 Highlanders & Hurricanes Otago & Wellington
Position: Openside Flanker
If there has been a position in which New Zealand has enjoyed an embarrassment of riches more than any other it has probably been openside flanker. In recent years world class players like Michael Jones, Josh Kronfeld and now Richie McCaw have often meant limited chances for several others.
And some like Duane Monkley and Angus Gardiner have been denied the chances their abilities merited at international level. Another in this category has been Kupu Vanisi but he at least had the consolation, which Monkley and Gardiner never enjoyed, of winning his All Black jersey, if only for one game.
This was in 1999 when a chance was taken to rest the then incumbent No 7, Kronfeld, and play Vanisi in the warmup match against New Zealand A in Christchurch. For the rest of the year Vanisi was in the New Zealand A side himself, playing two matches. He had another four games for New Zealand A on the tour of Europe in 2000.
A mobile, energetic loose forward especially adept at retrieving the ball from turnovers at the tackle breakdown, Vanisi was the son of a member of the first Tongan team to tour New Zealand, Vainikolo Vanisi, a strongly built wing who on that tour in 1969 played seven of the 11 matches including the main fixtures against New Zealand Maori (twice) and the New Zealand Juniors.
The family moved to New Zealand in the 1970s and though born in the Islands Kupu grew up in Dunedin, where he learned his early rugby with the Southern club.
He made the Otago representative side in 1994 but unfortunately his career clashed with that of Kronfeld.
Despite having to compete against Kronfeld for a place, and with several other class loose forwards in Otago including Taine Randell, Vanisi played in 36 matches for Otago up until the end of the 1998 season. Between 1996 and 1998 he also made 23 Super 12 appearances for the Highlanders.
The realities of the professional era saw Vanisi finally move to Wellington, where he was able to get more regular opporunities both at NPC and Super 12 levels. When another injury brought an early end to his 2003 season Vanisi had played another 43 Super 12 matches with the Hurricanes even though for almost all the 2001 competition he was out with injury. He was also approaching a half century of games for Wellington, having helped the side to the 2000 NPC first division title.
With Wellington and the Hurricanes Vanisi has been part of some outstanding loose forward trios, with others also of Pacific island descent in Filo Tiatia, Jerry Collins and Rodney So’oialo.
FULL NAME Osaiasi Kupu Vanisi
BORN Thursday, 30 November 1972 in Nuku’alofa
PHYSICAL 1.86m, 97kg
ALL BLACK DEBUT Friday, 11 June 1999v New Zealand ‘A’ at Christchurchaged 26 years, 193 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 0
ALL BLACK GAMES 1
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 1
ALL BLACK NUMBER 981
ALL BLACK GAMES THAT VANISI PLAYED
Vanisi did not score any points for the All Blacks.
Vanisi played in no test matches for the All Blacks.
Date of birth: 26/07/1974
Representative Teams: All Blacks 1998-2004 Highlanders & Blues Otago & Auckland
When he left New Zealand after the 2004 NPC season to play for the Castres club in the south of France Kees Meeuws, after some years as a squad member, seemed to have established himself as a first choice in the All Black front row. But unease about the possible impact of changes of coaches on selections and therefore player’s incomes led him to move off-shore.
Of Dutch and Maori descent Meeuws was educated at Kelston Boys High where he made the 1st XV in his 4th form year. He went on to represent New Zealand Under 17 in 1991, under 19 in 1993 and New Zealand Colts 1994-95. He also made three appearance for Auckland in the 1994-95 seasons but with All Black props Craig Dowd and Olo Brown plus well performed backups Kevin Nepia and John Akurangi ahead of him opportunities were limited.
A move to Otago saw him appearing alongside New Zealand Under 19 team mates Carl Hoeft and Anton Oliver in a formidable 1997 Highlanders and Otago front row.
After a strong 1998 Super 12 he was called into the All Blacks for the final Tri-Nations test and good performances for Otago in the NPC strengthened his claim for the following season.
During 1999 Meeuws played the Super 12 in a strong Highlanders team that lost a keenly contested final against the Crusaders. He started in all the Tri Nations tests that season but at the World Cup Craig Dowd was preferred, with Meeuws more often used as a substitute.
He retained his All Black position in the winter of 2000 but did not make the end of season tour to France and Italy. Affected by injury he was not involved in the 2001 Tri-Nations series but returned to play the NPC, then the midweek matches and the Argentina test on the All Blacks end of season tour.
Kees Meeuws returned to Auckland for the 2002 season, appearing in every Super 12 match for the Blues and each NPC match for Auckland. At test level he played only against Italy and Fiji during the winter but appeared in all three end of season tests on the Northern Hemisphere tour. He scored his first test try against Italy and followed with two against Fiji and one each against France and Wales. He scored a further four test tries in 2003, when seven of his eleven appearances were as a substitute, the Canterbury props Dave Hewett and Greg Sommerville generally being preferred. His 9th try against Tonga at the World Cup made him the world’s leading try scoring prop and he pushed the record to 10 against the Pacific Islands in 2004.
This was his last season in the All Blacks and he started in six of the seven home and Tri-Nations test matches.
When he left New Zealand at the end of the 2004 season Meeuws had 45 All Black appearances (42 tests), 80 Super 12 matches, 40 matches for Otago and 19 for Auckland to his credit. The totals would have been greater but for a number of leg injuries.
As a player he won the Super 12 with the Blues in 2003, the NPC with Otago 1998 and Auckland in both 2002 and 2003.
Standing 1.83 metres and weighing around 119 kg Meeuws had the ideal build for a prop but also had the mobility of a successful secondary school athlete. With such diverse interests as pig hunting and art (he was a student at the Elam School of Fine Arts intending to major in sculpture) he was a distinctive and valued team member, often highlighted on television for his strong ending to the All Black haka.
His biography, Le Rugbyman, with Heather Kidd was published in 2005.
FULL NAME Kees Junior Meeuws
BORN Friday, 26 July 1974 in Auckland
PHYSICAL 1.83m, 121kg
LAST SCHOOL Kelston Boys’ High
PROVINCES Otago, Auckland
SUPER RUGBY TEAM Blues
ALL BLACK DEBUT Saturday, 29 August 1998v Australia at Sydney aged 24 years, 34 days
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 29 August 1998v Australia at Sydney aged 24 years, 34 days
LAST TEST Saturday, 14 August 2004v South Africa at Johannesburg aged 30 years, 19 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 42 (12 as a substitute) 42
ALL BLACK GAMES 3 3
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 45 (12 as a substitute) 45
ALL BLACK TEST POINTS 50pts (10t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
TOTAL ALL BLACK POINTS 50pts (10t, 0c, 0p, 0dg, 0m)
ALL BLACK NUMBER 977
ALL BLACK GAMES THAT MEEUWS PLAYED
POINTS SCORED FOR THE ALL BLACKS
TEST RECORD BY NATION PWD
Representative Teams: All Blacks 1914 Otago Southern RFC
John Irvine, nicknamed “Sal”, was a typically hard nosed, uncompromsing tight forward from Dunedin’s celebrated Southern club. A lock in the old 2-3-2 scrum formation Irvine was a hefty man for the times, playing at 15st 7lbs or a little under 16st. His physique and strength made him a renowned scrummager.
Irvine’s first representative season with Otago was in 1912 when he had the distinction of being in a side which came to Auckland for a Ranfurly Shield challenge and emerged with a 5-all draw.
In 1914 he made the South Island side and from there won selection for the All Blacks’ tour of Australia. Because of World War I that was to be his only time in the All Blacks and there can only be regret that many of his best playing years were lost.
For the great hearted Irvine was a major success on tour. He played in 10 of the 11 matches including all three tests which brought the All Blacks a 3-0 series win.
By the time the war ended Irvine was in his early 30s, but he rounded out his playing days by appearing for Otago again in each of the 1918 and 1919 seasons.
Worked as a fireman.
FULL NAME John Gilbert Irvine
BORN Sunday, 1 July 1888 in Dunedin
DIED Saturday, 10 June 1939 in Queenstown
ALL BLACK DEBUT Wednesday, 1 July 1914v Wellington at Wellington aged 26 years, 0 days
INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Saturday, 18 July 1914v Australia at Sydney aged 26 years, 17 days
LAST TEST Saturday, 15 August 1914v Australia at Sydney aged 26 years, 45 days
ALL BLACK TESTS 3
ALL BLACK GAMES 7
TOTAL ALL BLACK MATCHES 10 10
ALL BLACK NUMBER 208
ALL BLACK GAMES THAT IRVINE PLAYED
Irvine did not score any points for the All Blacks.
Southern Rugby Football ClubTel: 027 487 8489 (Blair) // (03)455 1257 (Club) // PO Box 1427 // South Dunedin, Dunedin City, Otago NZ
Photos by John Caswell - courtesy of Caswell Images