Irish Universities 9 vs NZ Colts 0.

The Irish Universities tour finished on a high with a 9 – 0 win over New Zealand Colts on Eden Park.

The Colts had been on a tour of their own, beating West Coast, South Canterbury, Marlborough and Wairarapa Bush before the finale against the Irish. It was a useful Colts team too, including future All Blacks Ken Taylor, Lachie Cameron, Nicky Allen, Andrew Donald, Wayne Shelford and Kevin Boroevich.

University rugby has long been an important part of Irish rugby. University clubs in Dublin, Belfast and Cork were among the original affiliates when the IRFU was formed in 1874. Dublin University, sometimes known in rugby circles as ‘Trinity’, claims to be among the oldest rugby clubs in the world. The first President of the IRFU (W C Neville) and the first Irish captain (George Stack in 1875) were both Trinity men.

April 6 1965 was perhaps the greatest day in Irish Universities rugby history. Though without some leading players because of the requirements of the Irish selectors the Universities beat South Africa 12-10 at Limerick, the first Irish XV to beat the Springboks. Irish reports were that the South Africans got enough possession to win a dozen matches but that the Universities deserved victory for their sheer courage and opportunism.

The possibility of a tour to New Zealand by the Irish Universities had been floated in the 1950s and revived in 1976 when NZ Universities, on a 12 match tour that also took in California and Japan, played three matches in Ireland. The subsequent invitation from the Council of NZ Universities backed by an offer of practical assistance meant the 1978 Irish Universities tour could go ahead.

Four of the Irish Universities team John Robbie (the captain), John Cantrell, Ray Finn and Donal Spring had represented Ireland. Robbie and coach Roly Meates had toured New Zealand with the 1976 Irish team.

  • Itinerary.
    July 2 v Waikato University. Won 20 – 18 (Not first class)
    5 v Thames Valley Won 13 – 0
    8 v Poverty Bay Lost 3 – 6
    12 v Massey-Victoria Uni. Lost 3 – 13 (Not first class)
    16 v NZ Universities Lost 10 – 15
    19 v Lincoln College Won 16 – 4 (Not first class)
    22 v NZ Universities Won 18 – 4
    26 v North Otago Won 18 – 7
    29 v NZ Colts Won 9 – 0

The Irish Universities have toured overseas on three further occasions, to Japan & South Korea in 1987, to South Africa in 1994 and to Australia in 1997. The players wear their respective club socks with the green international jersey.