Our Place in All Black History

By "Sir" - March 24 2009
Hartlepool's place in rugby folklore is guaranteed thanks to what may well have been a simple printer's error. Back in October 1905 the touring New Zealand side played in front of a packed Friarage against a side made up of Rovers and West players.

The tour was covered in some depth by the Daily Mail [the national one not the local one] who assigned a reporter called Buttery to travel with the tour party. After their 63-0 victory at the Friarage, Buttery coined the term "All Backs" to describe the style in which the whole touring team played. He repeated the same comment in subsequent games, in Northumberland and Gloucester, and only then realised that a zealous sub-editor had changed his description to "All Blacks" - no doubt thinking that Buttery had meant to reflect the New Zealander's playing colours rather than their playing style. It stuck

Links: National Library of New Zealand & Encyclopaedia of New Zealand

 The "All Backs" weren't the first NZ side to visit town. They were beaten by a Maori XV which arrived 17 years earlier on their famous European tour in which they played an incredible 74 games.

The Springboks followed the Kiwis in 1905 when the played at the Victoria Ground - then the home of West - and three years later the Australians played at The Friarage.