1954 NZ All Blacks Tour to BC

1954 Tour Program – NZ All Blacks Visit BC for Matches vs Victoria, UBC, Mainland After 31 Games in UK, Ireland, France

In March 1954 the NZ All Blacks wrapped up a gruelling 36 match tour of the UK,  Ireland, France and North America. By the time they reached BC they had played 31 matches and had 5 more to go, 3 of them in BC and 2 in California. They won the matches in BC handily, 39-3 against Victoria, 42-3 against UBC and 37-11 against the Mainland.

The NZ All Blacks tour manager, J.N. Millard, wrote in the program, “We are looking forward to our visit to Vancouver first of all because we are keen to see Canada, a country of which we have heard so much , and also because ( I an sure all Canadians will forgive me for saying this) we shall be on our journey home. We arrived in England on Oct. 20th and since than we have played in all the countries of the British Isles. Up to the present, we have played 25 matches, losing 2, drawing 2, and winning 21… We believe that Rugby is increasing in popularity on the Western Coast of Canada and the United States, and we hope that, as a result of our visit, we may soon be able to welcome in New Zealand a touring team from your country.” (Feb 9th, 1954)

The President of the BCRU, Robert B. Spray added his thoughts in the program, “We congratulate the New Zealand team on their splendid record in the British Isles. No International team has had a greater tribute paid to it than was paid to the All Blacks after their game against The Barbarians at Cardiff Arms Park on February 20th. When the final whistle went, the entire crowd of 56,000 stood and sang “Now is the Hour” and “Auld Lang Syne” as only a Welsh crowd can.  The players linked arms in the center of the field and as soon as the singing was over, the crowd swarmed on the field and carried the New Zealanders off the field shoulder high. Especially do we wish to thank the New Zealand Rugby Union for their agreement to play three games here in the short space of a week. Their co-operation has made it possible for us to turn over the proceeds of the game against University of British Columbia to the British Empire Games Fund. This is the third time we have been honoured with a visit by the New Zealand All Blacks in British Columbia…”

The program (and digital scan) was graciously provided by the daughter of one of the Victoria players, Robert (Bob) Abbott. Robert Abbott was 19 at the time of facing the All Blacks, he played centre for Victoria “Crimson Tide”. He went on to become a teacher and school administrator in Victoria and was involved in many local sports such as J.B.A.A, Gorge Soccer, and Shamrocks Lacrosse.

Posted in History, Top Story.