Author(s): John McCrystal
On Friday 8th September, 1905, the Rimutaka docked at Plymouth to deliver a team of New Zealand rugby players. They were amateurs - men who played the game at home and for their country for the love of it - but their approach set the standard. Over the next six months, these 'Originals' would play a staggering 35 matches, winning 34 of them and losing only, famously, to Wales. They would score 976 points and concede only 59. Their rugby odyssey has since become a foundation stone of New Zealand's proud All Black tradition. It has rightly taken its place in our folklore.
This book details the place of rugby in New Zealand before 1905 and the build-up to the tour. It offers a commentary on the tour (with feature pages highlighting major aspects such as the role of the legendary Dave Gallaher as the team's captain, and the loss to Wales) and the return home. It examines the enduring legacy left by the players, many of whom went abroad again a decade later to represent their country in another arena - at war.
Finally, in The Originals John McCrystal describes the changes we've seen since the year of the tour: in New Zealand rugby and in New Zealand at large.
John McCrystal was born in Taupo and educated at the University of Auckland, from which he holds a PhD in Political Studies. He has been working as a book reviewer and freelance writer since 1990 and is a former New Zealand books editor of North and South magazine. He has published nine books of his own, including a handful of short stories and a radio drama, which was broadcast on National Radio in 2002. John's book, THE CARS WE LOVED was a finalist in the 2002 Montana Book Awards. John McCrystal lives in Wellington.