World Cup goal for NZ Rugby Museum
New Zealand’s world-first national rugby museum will be relocated and upgraded in time for the huge influx of rugby fans expected for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The rugby museum, in the central North Island city of Palmerston North, will be rehoused in a new wing that’s being added to Te Manawa - the city’s main museum gallery. Building work is scheduled to begin in early 2010, and the opening is planned for January 2011.
Palmerston North, the main centre in the Manawatu region, will host two Rugby World Cup pool games.
The city is home to the Adidas Rugby Institute, at Massey University. It was also the home of Charles Monro, the man who organised New Zealand's first rugby game in Nelson in 1870. The Monro family home is now part of the university.
World’s first rugby museum
The New Zealand Rugby Museum was the first national rugby museum in the world and - given the country’s long and respected links with the sport - is recognised globally as one of the most important resources for rugby historians and the media.
Currently located at Arena Manawatu in Palmerston North’s central city, the museum houses more than 30,000 items including memorabilia and artefacts dating back to when the game was first played in New Zealand in 1870.
But it’s not only die-hard rugby fans who visit the museum, as staff say they’re constantly surprised at how long visitors with little prior knowledge of the game, spend in the museum.
Naming the All Blacks
Many tourists are fascinated by the tale of how the All Blacks got their name, and the conflicting theories dating back to the original All Blacks’ famous 1905 / 06 tour of the UK.
Legend has it that after one great match, a British newspaper celebrating the forwards’ ability to pass the ball as well as the backs, gave the report the headline 'All Backs'. It was a typographical error that turned the intended headline into ‘All Blacks’.
The alternative theory suggests the title was penned by London Daily Mail rugby writer J A Buttery, who referred to the team as the ‘All Blacks’ because of their uniform colour.
Museum visitors can make up their own minds by learning more about the two theories and that historic UK tour.
Origins of the haka
The origins of the haka performed by the All Blacks before each match are also catalogued in the museum.
One record cites the first use of the haka during the same 1905 / 06 UK tour.
Another source claims the first New Zealand national rugby team used a Māori war cry to introduce itself to opponents in New South Wales, Australia, in 1884.
While the NZ Rugby Museum collection includes a huge number of New Zealand rugby collectibles, it is also dedicated to recording and displaying the passing parade of rugby union football from all countries where the game is played.
Many of the artefacts are the rarest in the world. More than 30 themed displays include personal playing and touring uniforms, scrapbooks, photographs and programmes from international players and administrators dating back to the 1880s.
An extensive film library features rare footage of early matches, as well as valuable newspaper clippings and a large collection of books.
All items received by the museum are registered and stored for easy access but, due to the limited display space, only part of the archives are on public display - a situation due to be rectified with the move to Te Manawa.
Journalists searching for new information are frequent visitors, and the museum, run by an historical society and staffed by 50 volunteers, services increasing demands from publishers and television producers for the use of rare material.
Items are lent out for temporary displays throughout New Zealand and overseas.
Whistle and coin
Two of the museum’s most precious items - a whistle first used in the 1905 All Blacks tour of Great Britain, and a coin linked to an historic 1920s game - make regular overseas trips to appear at international rugby events.
The loan trips are part of a 20-year tradition started by Australian referee Bob Fordham at the first World Cup in New Zealand in 1987. Since then, the tradition has been carried on by other international referees: Jim Fleming (Scotland, 1991), Derek Bevan (Wales, 1995), Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand, 1999) and Paul Honiss (New Zealand, 2003).
The whistle and coin would almost certainly be used for the first game of the 2011 tournament in New Zealand, according to New Zealand Rugby Museum curator Bob Luxford.
The whistle was originally used by Welsh referee Gil Evans in games involving the 1905 All Blacks in Great Britain, including the England test.
He later presented it to a fellow Welsh referee, Albert Freethy, who used it at the 1924 Olympic Games rugby final in Paris, and to sent All Black forward Cyril Brownlie from the field in a test against England at Twickenham on the 1924 / 25 tour.
The coin is also linked to that game. New Zealand supporter Hector Gray lent Freethy the florin for the toss because neither captain had a coin.
Thrilled by the role his coin had played, Gray later had it embossed with a rose on one side and a fern on the other.
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