Dave Gallaher: The Original All-Black

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David Gallagher was born in Ramelton, County Donegal in 1873.  At the age of four his family emigrated to New Zealand.  On arrival David’s father is thought to have altered the family name to ‘Gallaher’ to reflect its pronunciation.  David’s mother died when he was still in his teens and with an elderly father, he and his siblings found work to support the family.

In his spare time he played rugby.  In Katikati at first, then later in Auckland, at the Parnell Club and Ponsonby District RFC.  A physical, hard-tackling player he was comfortable in the forwards.  He was selected as Hooker for Auckland in 1897.

After serving with the New Zealand Contingent in the Boer War, Gallaher was selected to represent New Zealand in 1903 on their tour of Australia.  Continue reading

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Eric Watts Moses: A President at War

As commemorations of the First World War come to an end, Sunderland RFC’s archivist and historian looks at the war record of a pioneering rugby administrator.

Eric Watts Moses

Sunderland RFC’s Eric Watts Moses (1895 -1975) was President of the RFU during the 1949/50 season and the record books acknowledge his contribution to the development of rugby union across the globe during, before and after his presidency.  During the 1914-18 conflict he served as a young officer in the East Yorkshire Regiment and historian Ross Wilson turned to him for a description of those ‘moments of intense violence’ at the Front when ‘rifles were turned into savage instruments’.  The future RFU President noted;

‘We went in with our rifles without bayonets fixed or with bayonets only.  Using…rifles as clubs and they were more effective that way…we really got into a tangle and that is the only expression one can use.’

Eric survived the horrors of Passchendaele described in the extract and also the Somme to return to his native Sunderland and embark on a career of significance in the board rooms of rugby union. Continue reading

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Eyes Wide Open: The Demi Sakata Story

Japan team, 1968

Japan team, 1968

In 1968 Japan shocked the rugby world by defeating the Junior All-Blacks in Wellington.  Japanese Wing Yoshihiro ‘Demi’ Sakata scored four of Japan’s six tries that day and would go on to demonstrate that the performance was no fluke.

This is his story. Continue reading

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Arts Council Full Accreditation

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The World Rugby Museum is pleased to announce that it has been conferred full accreditation, nationally styled, by the Arts Council England.

The accreditation standard is a nationally agreed certificate of organisational health that demonstrates that a museum inspires the confidence of the public, funding and governing bodies.

As a ‘World’ Rugby Museum we are obliged to meet the same standards as venerable national institutions such as the British Museum and the Natural History Museum. That these standards have been met demonstrates the quality of the museum’s function both front-of and back-of-house.

“After a £1.8 Million pound investment we are confident that our museum is now a benchmark within the wider sports heritage sector. Achieving accredited status with the Arts Council demonstrates that our back-of-house functions are of the same quality” – Phil McGowan

The award comes after a wholesale review of the museum’s policy, business plan and mission statement, which is ‘to celebrate and share the unique history, culture and tradition of rugby union in all its forms, wherever and by whomsoever it is played.’


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Flying Lions: Elfed Jones

Continuing our series of biographies by David Smith, covering some of the British & Irish Lions who served with the RAF. 

Elfed Lewis Jones was born in Llanelli on 29th April 1912.  After leaving school he became a Magistrate’s Clerk.  While at school he played on the wing for Llanelli Harlequins; he later joined Llanelli and he was the club’s top try scorer for a number of seasons.  He played against New Zealand on 22nd October 1935, a game the tourists won 16-8.  Jones captained the side during the 1936-37 season and led the team to one of their most successful seasons when they scored a record 699 points. He showed his commitment to Llanelli and the amateur game by refusing three approaches to join the professional Northern League, all offers rumoured to have involved a signing-on fee of £400.  In 1938, despite not being selected for his national team, he was chosen to tour South Africa as a part of the British Isles team and thus became the 315th Lion.  Although he only played in 12 of the 24 matches on the tour, Jones finished as the team’s highest try scorer with 10, including his team’s first try in the third and final Test of the series.  Twice on the tour he scored a hat-trick of tries, against South Western Districts and then Rhodesia.

Elfed Jones 1941

RAF team v South Wales XV, 5th April 1941. Elfed Jones is 9th from the left in the back row. The match, the RAF’s first during WWII, was arranged at short notice and played at Swansea after the city had been badly bombed. The gate raised £795 for the Mayor’s Air-Raid Disaster Fund.

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Lest We Forget – Walter Riddle Sutherland (Scotland) 04/10/1918

More than 60 Scottish rugby internationals have come from the Hawick club in the borders of Scotland but few have been more beloved than Walter “Wattie” Sutherland who was killed by a stray enemy shell in the village of Hulluch in France on 4th October 1918 aged twenty seven.

Walter R Sutherland Roll of Honour

Walter Riddle Sutherland was born in the close-knit town of Hawick on 19th November 1890.  Educated locally at Teviot Grove Academy, his innate athletic skill combined with genuine speed and a natural swerve soon secured his place in the Hawick XV for the 1908/09 season after leaving school.  The club was unbeaten in his first season until Christmas and by the end of the season, he had appeared in 17 matches, scored 10 tries and become an automatic first choice for Hawick as a winger or in the centre.  He played 106 times for the club before the outbreak of the First World War during which he scored 317 points including 82 tries.  One of the greatest Sevens exponents of his generation, he played in 17 winning Hawick Sevens teams on the Scottish Sevens circuit between 1909 and 1914. Continue reading

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Lest We Forget – Frank Jacob Gard (USA) 29/09/1918

Frank Jacob Gard (1892-1918) was a flanker who captained Stanford University and the All-American team that played Australia (1912) and New Zealand (1913).  He was a Lieutenant in the infantry who was killed in action at the Battle of Argonne Forest, France.

USA team v Australia, 1912. Frank Gard, 6th from left in back row.

USA team v Australia, 1912. Frank Gard, 6th from left in back row.

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