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New Zealand Army rugby team of 1919


New Zealand Army rugby team of 1919

New Zealand captain James Ryan receiving the Kings Cup from George V

The New Zealand Army rugby team of 1919 was a rugby union team which represented New Zealand after the end of the First World War. Although spoken of as a single team, there were several New Zealand Services teams playing in Britain at the conclusion of the War. The most notable being the touring Army XV who played a series of games throughout Great Britain and France, including an internationally recognised match against the Wales national team. With the introduction of the King's Cup; a services tournament between forces from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, the team split intself in two. The 'A' Team taking part in the King's Cup, while the 'B' team continued touring against club and county opponents.


  • New Zealand Services 1
  • The tour of Great Britain and France 2
  • Touring party 3
    • Full-backs 3.1
    • Three-quarters 3.2
    • Five-eighths 3.3
    • Half-backs 3.4
    • Forwards 3.5
  • Results 4
  • New Zealand Army in Wales 5
    • Wales 5.1
  • The King's Cup 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • Notes 8

New Zealand Services

The First World War saw a high percentage of amateur rugby union players signing up to serve their country.[1] At the same time the sport of rugby union was suspended at club and country level in most countries. The sport survived during this period through organised games conducted by inter-service and allied forces.

When the War came to an end, most international and club teams were decimated; more than a hundred internationals had died in the conflict (See:List of international rugby union players killed in action during the First World War), many more were seriously injured and other players were now too old or out of condition. Therefore club teams took the possibility to play an organised New Zealand team as a way to challenge their own teams as they sought to rebuild.

  1. ^ Scotland as an example had 24 recognised clubs which were members of the  
  2. ^ Hughes (1986), pg 98.
  3. ^ Sport in Wartime W.F. Ingram, The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 7 (2 October 1939)
  4. ^ a b c Billot (1972), pg 47.
  5. ^ New Zealand Rifle Brigade


  • Billot, John (1972). All Blacks in Wales. Ferndale: Ron Jones Publications. 
  • Hughes, Gareth (1986). The Scarlets: A History of Llanelli Rugby Club. Llanelli: Llanelli Borough Council.  
  • Smith, David; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of Praise: The Official History of The Welsh Rugby Union. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.  


The final in London was between New Zealand and the 'Mother Country' team. James Ryan led his team to a 9–3 victory, earning the right to Face the French Army three days later. After the win over France, Ryan was award the King's Cup, presented by King George V. With the King's Cup Championship over, the 'A' team returned to Wales to rejoin the rest of the squad ready to face the Wales team at Swansea.

The New Zealand Army 'A' team's first encounter was with the RAF played at Swansea in Wales; New Zealand won 22–3. This was followed by another victory, this time against the Canadian Force at Portsmouth in England. After beating the South African Forces team at Twickenham, New Zealand travelled to Edinburgh in Scotland to play the 'Mother Country', the British Army team. This was the closest encounter to date, with New Zealand winning 6–3. With four wins from four encounters, New Zealand had already secured their place in the final, but then lost the final match of the round against Australia at Bradford. This was the first loss of the tour for the New Zealand Army, for either the A or B team.

The competition, sometimes referred to as the 'Inter-Services and Dominions Rugby Championship',[5] consisted of a small league, whereby each of the teams played each other over a period of weeks. Once the teams had played each encounter, the two sides with the most wins would face each other for the right to play for the King's Cup at Twickenham. The winner of the final was then invited to play the French Army team, again at Twickenham. The matches were played in varying locations around Britain.

The King's Cup was competed by six teams. The New Zealand Army, the British Army (known during the competition as the Mother Country), Australian Imperial Forces, Canadian Expeditionary Forces, South African Forces and the RAF.

The King's Cup

New Zealand Army: C Capper, W Ford, L Stohr, P Storey, J Ryan capt., W Fea, C Brown, M Cain, E Hassell, J Kissick, J Moffitt, A Wilson, A West, A Singe, R Fogarty

Wales: Ianto Davies (Maesteg), Jerry Shea (Pill Harriers), Melbourne Thomas (Bridgend), Evan Rees (Swansea), Trevor Nicholas (Cardiff). Walter Martin (Newport), Ike Fowler (Llanelli), Glyn Stephens (Neath) capt., Jim Jones (Swansea), William Thomas Havard (Llanelli), Gwyn Francis (Llanelli), Jack Whitfield (Pill Harriers), Aaron Rees (Swansea), Will Morris (Abertillery), Tom Parker (Swansea)

21 April 1919
Wales 3–6 New Zealand Army
Pen: Shea Pen: Stohr (2)
Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: R Charman (England)


During the First World War, the ban on players who had switched to play professional rugby league from playing rugby union was lifted. This allowed players from both codes to play in services team without threat of action. With the war over, the Welsh Rugby Union immediately sort to re-establish the amateur rules, and were suspicious that several of the New Zealand team had played professional rugby before the war and now wanted a guarantee that all the New Zealanders were amateurs.[4] This view led one irate British Service officer to comment, "As if it matters a damn whether they are amateurs or professionals when they have come to this country to fight and die for us."[4] The WRU realising that had misjudged the sentiment towards the Services teams quickly dropped their complaint and did not raise the issue again.[4]

New Zealand Army in Wales

1 The matches that made up the King's Cup competition.

Date Opponent Location Result Score
Match 1 Royal Naval Division Devonport Drawn 0–0
Match 2 1 February Monmouthshire Crosskeys Won 22–3
Match 3 United Services Torquay Won 9–0
Match 4 Canadian Forces Chiswick Won 12–0
Match 5 South African Services Richmond Won 26–5
Match 6 Coventry R.F.C. Coventry Won 14–0
Match 7 Australian Imperial Forces Richmond Won 9–0
Match 8 RAF 1 Swansea Won 22–3
Match 9 Canadian Expeditionary Force1 Portsmouth Won 11–0
Match 10 Yorkshire Bradford Won 44–5
Match 11 British XV Leicester Won 11–3
Match 12 RAF Richmond Won 3–0
Match 13 Gloucester Gloucester Won 15–12
Match 14 29 March Cardiff Cardiff Drawn 0–0
Match 15 South African Forces1 Twickenham Won 14–5
Match 16 2 April Maesteg Maesteg Won 8–3
Match 17 ('A' team) 5 April Mother Country1 Edinburgh Won 6–3
Match 18 ('B' team) 5 April Abertillery Abertillery Won 3–0
Match 19 ('B' team) 9 April Cross Keys Crosskeys Won 6–0
Match 20 ('A' team) 12 April Australian Imperial Forces1 Bradford Lost 5–6
Match 21 ('B' Team) 12 April Pill Harriers Newport Drawn 0–0
Match 22 ('B' Team) 16 April Ogmore Vale Ogmore Vale Won 12–7
Match 23 ('A' team) 16 April Mother Country – King's Cup Final1 Twickenham Won 9–3
Match 24 ('A' team) 19 April French Army Twickenham Won 20–3
Match 25 ('B' team) 19 April Neath Neath Won 10–3
Match 26 21 April Wales Cardiff Won 6–3
Match 27 Abergavenny Abergavenny Won 20–0
Match 28 Ebbw Vale Ebbw Vale Won 28–0
Match 29 Coventry Coventry Won 7–0
Match 30 Queen's University Belfast Won 18–0
Match 31 United Services Salisbury Won 20–7
Match 32 Devon Torquay Won 14–0
Match 33 Tredegar Tredegar Won 8–0
Match 34 5 May Monmouthshire Ebbw Vale Lost 3–4
Match 35 French XV Paris Won 16–10
Match 36 Selection Francais Pau Won 16–6
Match 37 Selection Francais Toulouse Won 16–6
Match 38 Northern Command Headingley Won 33–0
Programme for the match between the Mother Country and New Zealand service teams


  • P. Allen (Wellington Infantry Regt.)
  • J. Kissick (Field Engineers)
  • F.P. Arnold (Auckland Infantry Regt.)
  • A.A. Lucas (Field Artillery)
  • Ernest Bellis (Otago Infantry Regt.)AB
  • James Moffit (Auckland Infantry Regt.)AB
  • R.W. Bilkey (Field Artillery)
  • Harold Vivian Murray (Machine Gun Corps)
  • John Alexander Bruce (Field Engineers)AB
  • E.J. Naylor (Otago Infantry Regt.)
  • Michael Joseph Cain (Otago Infantry Regt.)AB
  • R. Sellars (Divisional Signals)
  • Eric Cockroft (Field Artillery)AB
  • A.P. Singe (Auckland Infantry Regt.)
  • James Burt Douglas (Otago Infantry Regt.)AB
  • S.J. Standen (Field Artillery)
  • Dick Fogarty (Rifle Brigade)AB
  • C.W. Tepene (Otago Infantry Regt.)
  • A. Gilchrist (Field Artillery)
  • Alfred West (Field Artillery)AB
  • Edward Hasell (Field Artillery)AB
  • H.G. Whittington (Rifle Brigade)
  • A. Wilson (Rifle Brigade)


  • Charlie Brown (Field Engineers)AB
  • D.McK. Sandman (Canterbury Infantry Regt.)


  • Eric Arthur Cockroft (Canterbury Infantry Regt.)AB
  • Richard William Roberts (Rifle Brigade)AB
  • William Fea (Rifle Brigade)AB
  • Jim Ryan (Otago Infantry Regt.)AB
  • W.L. Henry (Canterbury Infantry Regt.)
  • P. Tureia (Pioneers)
  • G.J. McNaught (Machine Gun Corps)
  • E. Watson (Wellington Infantry Regt.)
  • G. Yardley (Auckland Infantry Regt.)



  • C.H. Capper (Field Artillery)
  • John Gerald O'Brien (Divisional Signals)AB


Those players marked with AB were also capped as New Zealand 'All Black' rugby union internationals, either before or after playing in the New Zealand Army team.

Touring party

The tour of Great Britain and France took in 38 matches, of which the New Zealand Army won 33, drew two and lost just three games. With the tour over the Army team headed to South Africa for a further twelve matches.

The tour of Great Britain and France

The stronger New Zealand Army 'A' team took the challenge of the King's Cup and eventually triumphed over the British Army at Twickenham. The 'B' team continued the tour of Great Britain and France. [3]

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