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The original New Zealand tourists

John GriffithsJuly 14, 2014
The New Zealand Natives © Bill Brien Collection
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How many games did the New Zealand Native team play altogether on their worldwide tour of 1888-89? JS, New Zealand

The New Zealand Native team were the first to undertake a tour of the Northern Hemisphere. So many matches took place on that visit that accounts vary as to the number of matches played and won, but it is generally accepted that they played 107 games.

1888: The side mustered in New Zealand and started with nine matches on an internal tour between June 23 and July 31. They then played two games in Australia between August 11 and August 15 before sailing north.

1888-89: Arriving in Britain after two months at sea, the side - known in Britain and Ireland as "The Maoris" - undertook 74 games between October 3 and March 27, often playing three times a week.

1889: They broke their journey home for a tour of Australia, playing 14 rugby and eight Aussie Rules games between May 24 and July 24. Reaching home in August, they rounded off their epic journey with a further eight games in New Zealand between August 7 and August 24.

All told they played 107 rugby matches, won 78 drew 6 and lost 23. In addition, they played eight, won three and lost five of their Aussie Rules games in Victoria.

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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Writer Bio

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

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