In their first match against a side outside of the Home Nations, England controversially defeated the New Zealand Natives 7-0 at the Rectory Field in Blackheath on this day in rugby history in 1889.
The match was part of the Natives tour of the Home Nations. This was the first tour of an overseas team to the birth place of the game. While the Natives side was originally planned to have only native Maori players it ultimately included four white players.
The Natives were optimistic heading into the match after defeating Ireland and losing a close match to Wales. But they had an uphill task against a solid England side paired with some home cooking from the match official who was none other than Rowland Hill, the Secretary of the Rugby Football Union.
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Rowland awarded England two tries late in the first half despite Natives claiming they had touched the ball down first. And the circus calls only continued in the second half after Andrew Stoddart lost his shorts only for Frank Evershed score a third try while Natives players helped a pant-less Stoddart get off the pitch.
The reaction of several Maori players was to sit out of the match for several minutes before rejoining the action.
The damage was done and after the match Rowland, this time as Secretary of the RFU, made the visitors apologies for their action in a letter he had drafted.
The tour was a huge success, however. The tradition of the Haka was started and the idea of the tour was ingrained in the rugby culture. And the Maori’s showed well posting 49 wins, 20 losses and 5 draws on the tour.