History of the Māori All Blacks
As a build up to the ‘test’ between the Māori All Blacks and Lions in Rotorua this Saturday, Te Karere has commissioned a special online series that looks back on all clashes between the two teams.
Click on the links below to see each of the videos
Sharing his knowledge and insights into each of these games is Malcolm Muholland.
Malcolm is Ngāti Kahungunu and is a senior Research Officer at Massey University, Te Pūtahi a Toi. He is also undertaking a PHD at that institution.
Malcolm is the author of BENEATH THE MĀORI MOON An Illustrated history of Māori Rugby.
In this installment, Māori rugby historian Malcolm Mullholand recounts the epic first clash in 1930 between the Māori All Blacks and the Lions.
The Māori team’s star selection is one of the greatest rugby players ever - George Nepia.
The match is played in front of 25,000 fans at Athletic Park.
After a dominant start by Great Britain, the Māori storm back into the game in the second half.
The second encounter between the Māori All Blacks and the Lions was in 1950.
40,000 fans pack into Athletic Park, Wellington for the mid week game.
Like the first encounter 20 years before at the same ground, the tourists establish an early lead, only for the Māori to fight their way back into the game.
But just before halftime, the Māori All Blacks chances are dashed when a key player is injured and they’re forced to play the rest of the match with 14 men.
The 1959 encounter is played at a packed Eden Park in front of 45,000 fans.
It’s remembered as the most ill-tempered game on tour with the legendary Albie Pryor rarking up all and sundry.
The fixture also sees the debut of a young player who would go on to become an All Black great: Waka Nathan, the loose forward they called the ‘black panther’.
It’s almost like groundhog day, another case of Déjà vu.
Māori All Blacks versus the Lions.
55,000 passionate fans cram into Eden Park.
The game is there for the taking, but will the Māori All Blacks seize the day?
Waka Nathan again stars in the match, but he’s also joined by another legend, first five-eight Mackie Herewini.
The British Lions team that tours NZ in ’71 will be just the second team in the history of NZ rugby to defeat the All Blacks in a test series at home.
This is an outstanding rugby team – arguably it’s best ever – with world class players like Barry John, Mike Gibson, JPR Williams, John Dawes, Gerald Davies, David Duckham and Gareth Edwards.
It thrashes powerhouse provincial teams like Wellington (47 – 9), Waikato (35 – 14) and Otago (21 – 9).
So how will the Māori All Blacks fare against such a formidable foe?
A record mid-week crowd of 53,000 rocks up to Eden Park to see the Māori ABS play the Lions for a 6th time, with the hosts still seeking that breakthrough win.
Waka Nathan is now coach and he has stars of the callibre of Sid Going and Bill Osborne in his team.
Unlike previous encounters, the Māori All Blacks build a big lead, but do they hang on?
After not getting a crack at the 1983 Lions, the Māori All Blacks get a chance against the 1993 tourists at Athletic Park.
That team is led by Otago and All Black number 8 Arran Pene. The freakishly talented Zinzan Brook is also in the team.
The Māori All Black burst out of the blocks – they blow out to a 20 – nil lead.
Surely, the elusive victory against the mighty Lions is in the bag?
By 2005, the Māori All Blacks has played 7 times over a 75 year time span.
Despite being close in most matches, the tangata whenua are still yet to taste the sweet fruit of victory.
Surely, this is will the Māori All Blacks best opportunity.
All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry releases eligible All Blacks for the fixture.
The most successful coach for the Māori All Blacks, Matt Te Pou, is in charge.
Te Pou calls up players who are truly world class: Carlos Spencer, Luke McAlister, Leon MacDonald, Rico Gear and Piri Weepu.
He also picks an inspirational and courageous leader in local Waikato favourite, Jono Gibbes.