July 1 – 1908 Anglo-Welsh team play Hawkes Bay

The 1908 Anglo-Welsh team, so called because the Irish and Scottish unions chose not to make their players available for the tour, was playing the 11th of its 17 matches in New Zealand. It was a popular team, though its record of nine wins, seven losses and a draw, was not particularly impressive, Moving on to Australia they won seven of their nine games.

credit Canterbury Times
1908 Hawkes Bay team.

“Early on the Monday after the second test the Anglo- Welsh left Wellington by train for Napier, where they arrived at 7 p.m. The team enjoyed enthusiastic receptions at stations along the way, with the crowds clamouring to see ‘Ponty’ Jones, but it was only after his team-mates threatened to carry him out that the shy Welshman put in an appearance.

The magnificent fight put up by the visitors in the second test added to the enthusiasm already prevailing in Napier and its environs. Special trains brought spectators in their thousands, some from as far afield as Wellington. One band of Maori enthusiasts made a pilgrimage from the Urewera Country, taking three days over the journey along bad roads and across swollen rivers.

The local side was not a strong one and the tourists had one of the easiest games of the tour. An interesting personality in the Hawkes Bay team was the wing threequarter Tom McIntyre, one of New Zealand’s leading professional sprinters at a time when cash athletics was booming. McIntyre later made a name as the coach of some of New Zealand’s top athletes, including Doug Harris and ‘Dutchy’ Holland. McIntyre coached until his death in Auckland at the age of 98.

The weather was ideal for the match, which opened rather quietly. The visitors soon settled down, however, and ‘Tuan’ Jones made a good opening from which he put his brother over for a simple try. Three minutes later, Ritson scored in almost the same position and this time Harding was successful with the conversion.

Symes, the local fullback, was playing well under constant pressure, but when he failed to secure a high punt by Chapman, the latter, following up fast, caught the ball as it dropped and dotted it down 10 yards from the posts, Dyke missed an easy kick. From a scramble on the visitors’ line shortly afterwards, Wall scored an unconverted try to give the locals their only points. The second half found the British backs in devastating form. ‘Tuan’ Jones made a brilliant run, swerving his way through the opposition to score a thrilling try, and a few minutes later a rush in which both backs and forwards took part ended in a try to Smith which Harding failed to convert. A clever run by ‘Ponty’ Jones gave Johnny Williams a clear run to the line, and right on time Chapman raced over for his second try, which Dyke converted, making the final score 25-3.

As the score would suggest, this contest was uneven and the visitors could have won by a wider margin had their goal kicking not been so poor. It was a good display by the Anglo- Welsh, however, with the Jones brothers and Chapman the best of the backs, and Smith, Morgan and Ritson outstanding in a very efficient pack.

Symes was steady at fullback for Hawkes Bay, while Wall and McIntyre did their best with the limited opportunities they received. Walshe, the home captain, worked hard at wing forward, with future All Black Dave Evans, Hughes and Nicholson the.best of the pack.”

“The Visitors” R H Chester & N A C McMillan, Moa Publications, pub. 1990 p.88