December 1 1888

Test win for “Natives in Dublin

Down at halftime in their test against Ireland, and falling further behind, the “Natives” then took control, scoring five tries, two to ‘Paddy’ Keogh’ to come away with a stunning 13 – 4 victory.


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When they crossed to Dublin on 30 November the team had played thirteen matches in four weeks, and several leading players were carrying serious injuries. Nor were Ireland any better off. Their original selection was beset by injuries, and four more changes were required in the selected XV before it took the field. In spite of these weaknesses, and although the game did not attract the same attention as an England or Scotland international, a good crowd was drawn to Landsdowne Road for the occasion.

Initially the game belonged to Ireland. Early pressure resulted in numerous scoring opportunities and another injury to Billy Warbrick, who suffered constantly as the last line of defence. Finally, late in the half, astute tactical kicking by Walpole gave Waites an easily converted try. Although both Fred Warbrick and Anderson nearly scored for the Native team, the half ended with Ireland leading 3—0.

The second spell began in similar fashion. Constant Irish attacks were met by spirited tackling, but Woods broke through to score another Irish try. At this point Irish supporters were convinced that the match would end in a victory to the home side. But their convictions proved sadly mistaken as the Native team suddenly found form. Firstly Keogh, who constantly amazed spectators with his incisive running, scored two tries, including one from deep inside his own half. Soon after, Williams and Ellison combined in another movement which swept the length of the field and ended with another try. Elliot posted a fourth only a few minutes later. Finally, Maynard broke away to complete another long-range try and McCausland slotted his fourth conversion in a remarkable 13-4 victory.

Local observers were understandably stunned by the result, but seemed more content to criticize Ireland than to praise the Native team; for example: “That the result shows the home team anything but brilliant scorers goes without saying, and seldom has an Irish international combination shown to less advantage.” Another saw the match as “a very poor and easygoing exposition of football throughout, any respectable play being shown by the visitors”.  But Ireland were good enough to defeat Wales during the same season, and the victory of the Native team should not have been underestimated as it was.

credits Union RFC
Paddy Keogh - two tries.

From “Forerunners of the All Blacks” by Greg Ryan. Published 1993 by Canterbury University Press. P. 71-75.