Rector’s XV vs Te Aute Centenary Match
Tomorrow will see a Rector’s XV play Te Aute College from
Central Hawke’s Bay, and the match is being played to mark 100 years since our
two schools first met on the rugby field. And, as it was in 1920, the match is
taking place the day after term two finishes.
That first match was the North Island semi-final of the
first national secondary schools knockout championship, held to determine who
would be the original holder of the Moascar Cup – a trophy won by the New
Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade in a services tournament in Egypt while waiting
to be sent home at the end of World War I.
The 1920 1st XV, which included the school’s
soon to be first All Black Arthur Law, had already defeated Napier,
St.Patrick’s College of Wellington and Wanganui Technical College before taking
on Te Aute for the first time. The 1920 Palmerstonian records “This match was
without doubt our greatest game of the whole season…Te Aute were indeed a great
team, and the tremendous struggle they put up will never be forgotten by those
who took part against them. It may be worthy to note that this was the only
team which we played for the Moascar Cup that crossed our line.”
The match was played in Napier, and when, on the return
journey, the train stopped in “their township…” the Te Aute team “lined up
alongside the train and gave us three cheers and then their haka, after which
we responded with three hearty cheers. They then climbed on to the train ,
shook hands with us, and wished us luck in our future games.”
So began our long history with Te Aute College; a few years
after this first match the fixture became an annual one, and over throughout
the 1930s and 40s the Moascar Cup moved almost exclusively between our two
schools. Currently it resides not far up the road from Te Aute, at our Super
Eight compatriots at Hastings Boys’.
Throughout our 100 years many memorable games hav been
played; the infamous match of 1947 stands out – the school’s Centennial Book
writes, “One of the most extraordinary 1st XV matches ever played.
All football (rugby in those days, boys, was referred to as football) in New
Zealand was cancelled because of very bad storms, but Te Aute had not heard or
were not told, and duly arrived in Palmerston North for their two-night stay.
The Manawatu Rugby Union were keen to recoup the £57 17s 6d the Royal Hotel would
cost them, and insisted the game go on”. The coach, Mr Skoglund contacted the
team to tell them the game was on; 5000 spectators were at the Showgrounds and
in the atrocious conditions after five minutes no-one could tell who was who.
The nil-all draw meant Te Aute retained the Moascar Cup.
All told, our 1st XVs have met 84 times over
those 100 years, and even though we have not played at 1st XV level
since 2008 we have maintained contact on the sporting field with Te Aute and it
is a privilege to host them tomorrow for our Centenary fixture. A 12pm kick-off
on the no.1 field here at school.