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The 1888 British Isles tour to New Zealand and Australia was a tour by a British
rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a Contact sport#Terminology, close-contact team sport that originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the Comparison of rugby league and rugby union, two codes of rugby f ...
team, known at the time as the "English Footballers", throughout New Zealand and Australia. Although a private venture not organised by any official body, this was the first major tour of the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
undertaken by a European rugby team. It paved the way for future tours by teams which are now known as
British and Irish Lions The British & Irish Lions is a rugby union team selected from players eligible for the national teams of England national rugby union team, England, Scotland national rugby union team, Scotland, Wales national rugby union team, Wales and Irelan ...
. The team boarded the
SS Kaikoura
SS Kaikoura
at Gravesend on 9 March 1888, returning to England on the same ship on 11 November. While in Australia and New Zealand the team played a number of state, provincial, and invitation sides, but did not play any international teams. They played 35 rugby matches, winning 27, drawing 6, and losing 2. Only four of the touring party had played, or would play, for their country; Seddon,
Andrew Stoddart Andrew Ernest Stoddart (11 March 1863 – 4 April 1915) was an English sportsman who played international cricket for England cricket team, England, and rugby union for England national rugby union team, England and the British and Irish Lions, ...
and
Tom Kent Tom Kent (born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Winston-Salem is a city in and the county seat of Forsyth County, North Carolina, Forsyth County, North Carolina, United States. In 2020, the population was 249,545 making it the second largest m ...
for England, and
Willie Thomas William Henry Thomas (22 March 1866 – 11 October 1921) was a Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous ...
for
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...
. They also played a smaller number of Victorian rules (Australian rules) football matches, but the side had no prior experience of this before arriving in Australia. The team's legacy was honoured in 2013 when the team, along with initial captain
Robert Seddon Robert Lionel "Bob" Seddon (birth registered October→December 1860 in County Borough of Salford, Salford district – 15 August 1888) was an England, English international rugby union forward who played club rugby for Broughton Rangers and Sw ...

Robert Seddon
, were inducted into the
World Rugby Hall of Fame The World Rugby Hall of Fame (formerly the IRB Hall of Fame) recognises special achievement and contribution to the sport of rugby union. The World Rugby Hall of Fame covers players, coaches, administrators, match officials, institutions and other ...
.


Tour background

The 1888 tour was organised by three professional English
cricketers Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bail (cricket), bai ...

cricketers
, James Lillywhite, Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury, but they could not obtain patronage from the Rugby Football Union who refused to patronise by the tour,Griffiths (1987), pg 9:3. though the RFU was happy for the tour to go ahead, provided there was no infringement of the rules of amateurism.Griffiths (1990), pg 15. The team was led by England national rugby union team, England's Robert Seddon, Robert L Seddon and took in 35 games, though no test matches against international opposition. Of the games played the tourists won twenty seven, drew six and lost two matches. The tour was undertaken by Shaw and Shrewsbury as a purely financial exercise with little regard to producing a "British Isles" team, and the team itself is more often recorded as an English team. The two managers were not unfamiliar with touring sides, having organised cricket teams to Australia, and the rugby tour was a follow on from the financially disastrous History of Test cricket from 1884 to 1889#England v Australia 1887/8, England Cricket tour of 1887. The rugby tour was not an economic success either and lost both managers money. Worse was to occur when team captain Seddon, drowned on 15 August in an accident while sculling on the Hunter River (New South Wales), Hunter River in Maitland, New South Wales, West Maitland. The captaincy was then passed to
Andrew Stoddart Andrew Ernest Stoddart (11 March 1863 – 4 April 1915) was an English sportsman who played international cricket for England cricket team, England, and rugby union for England national rugby union team, England and the British and Irish Lions, ...
a future England rugby captain and Wisden Cricketers of the Year, Wisden Cricketer of the Year. A further economic issue that related to the tour was the burgeoning professional movement that was gathering momentum in England at the time. Rugby players and clubs in Britain were divided by the growing belief that players should be paid for their time playing their sport. The growing popularity of the now professional Association Football was causing many, especially in the North of England, to challenge the amateur standing of the union code. One of the catalysts to the split between amateur union code and the future league code, was when Jack Clowes, Jack P. Clowes, a member of the 1888 tour, was designated a 'professional' sportsman after he accepted £15 to buy equipment shortly before he left for Australia. The other players on the tour were then required to sign an affidavit to state they were not to be paid for playing rugby when in Australia and New Zealand. The tourists played in red, white and blue hooped jerseys and white shorts. In addition to playing 35 game of rugby union, the Lions team also played 19 games of Victorian Rules Football (later known as Australian rules football). The Lions won 6 of the matches under the Australian rules, despite having no experience with the code prior to the tour. The uniforms wore by the Lions in their first tour was made in striking thick red, white and blue hoops, white shorts and dark socks.


Touring party

*Manager: Alfred Shaw, A Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury, A Shrewsbury


Full Backs

* Tommy Haslam (Batley Bulldogs, Batley) * Arthur George Paul, A.G. Paul (Swinton Lions, Swinton)


Three-Quarters

* Harry Speakman, Harry Collinge Speakman (Runcorn RFC, Runcorn) * Herbert Brooks (Edinburgh University RFC, Edinburgh University), (Durham) * Jack Anderton (Salford Red Devils, Salford) *
Andrew Stoddart Andrew Ernest Stoddart (11 March 1863 – 4 April 1915) was an English sportsman who played international cricket for England cricket team, England, and rugby union for England national rugby union team, England and the British and Irish Lions, ...
, (Blackheath F.C., Blackheath)


Half backs

* Walter Bumby (Swinton Lions, Swinton) * Johnny Nolan (Rochdale Hornets) * Willie Burnet, W. "Willie" Burnet (Hawick RFC, Hawick)


Forwards

*
Robert Seddon Robert Lionel "Bob" Seddon (birth registered October→December 1860 in County Borough of Salford, Salford district – 15 August 1888) was an England, English international rugby union forward who played club rugby for Broughton Rangers and Sw ...

Robert Seddon
(Swinton Lions, Swinton) ''(captain)'' * Charlie Mathers (Bramley RLFC, Bramley) * Sam Williams (rugby union), Sam Williams (Salford Red Devils, Salford) * Tom Banks (rugby), Tom Banks (Swinton Lions, Swinton) * Harry Eagles (Salford Red Devils, Salford) * Angus Stuart (Dewsbury Rams, Dewsbury – Scottish uncapped) * Willie Thomas, W.H. Thomas (Cambridge University R.U.F.C., Cambridge University) *
Tom Kent Tom Kent (born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Winston-Salem is a city in and the county seat of Forsyth County, North Carolina, Forsyth County, North Carolina, United States. In 2020, the population was 249,545 making it the second largest m ...
(Salford Red Devils, Salford) * A.P. Penketh (Douglas R.U.F.C., Douglas), (Isle of Man) * Bob Burnet (rugby union), R. "Bob" Burnet (Hawick RFC) * Alex Laing (rugby), A. J. Laing (Hawick RFC) * John Smith (footballer born 1855), John Smith (Edinburgh University RFC, Edinburgh University) * Jack Clowes, Jack P. Clowes (Halifax R.L.F.C., Halifax) Two-thirds of the touring party belonged to clubs that, within a few years, would defect to the Rugby Football League, Northern Rugby Football Union, founding the game of rugby league.


Results

Complete list of matches played by the British Isles in Australia and New Zealand:British & Irish Lions results
on Rugby Football History
Early Lions: Squads and results (1888–1938)
on BBC Sport, 18 May 2005


Bibliography

* * *


External links

*


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:British Lions Tour To New Zealand And Australia 1888 rugby union tours 1888 in Australian rugby union 1888 in New Zealand rugby union British and Irish Lions tours of Australia, 1888 British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand, 1888 World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees