Canterbury’s First Rugby Match – 1863

The first ever Rugby game was played in Cranmer Square in 1863. The two-hour game was played between Christ’s College and the Gentlemen of Christchurch – ending in a draw, 1 try scored by each team.

The same day, the Christchurch Football Club formed and is now the oldest club in New Zealand. The Club can boast of 32 All Blacks, 5 of them making it to Captain and 228 players that represented Canterbury on the field.

Rugby arrived in New Zealand with R.J.S Harman in 1850. He had attended Rugby School back in England. Rugby originated in 1823 when football player William Webb picked up a soccer ball and ran with it.

Pictured is the Christ’s College Rugby team of 1880.

* Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Steffano Webb Collection (PAColl-3061)
Reference: 1/2-029526-F Photograph by Steffano Francis Webb

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