1908 British Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia

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1908 British Lions Tour to New Zealand and Australia
Date 23 May  – 2 September
Coach(es) George Harnett
Tour captain(s) Wales Arthur 'Boxer' Harding
Test series winners  New Zealand (2–0)
Top test point scorer(s) Wales Reggie Gibbs (3)
Wales Jack Jones (3)

The 1908 British Isles tour to New Zealand and Australia was the seventh tour by a British Isles team and the fourth to New Zealand and Australia. The tour is often referred to as the Anglo-Welsh Tour as only English and Welsh players were selected due to the Irish and Scottish Rugby Unions not participating. It is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950.

Led by Arthur 'Boxer' Harding and managed by George Harnett[1] the tour took in 26 matches, 9 in Australia and 17 in New Zealand. Of the 26 games, 23 were against club or invitational teams and three were test matches against the All Blacks, the Lions lost two and drew one match against the All Blacks.

The tour was not received well in Wales, as the Welsh players selected were chosen exclusively from those players from a well-educated and professional-class background, the selection was in fact addressed by the Welsh Rugby Union who stated that when a British Isles team was mooted for a South Africa tour in 1910, that the players should be chosen '...irrespective of the social position of the players.'[2]

Touring party[edit]

A group of rugby union players posing in several rows while wearing their uniforms
The Anglo-Welsh touring party after arriving in Wellington in 1908. Manager George Harnett is seated in the centre, with captain Arthur Harding holding a rugby ball to Harnett's right.
  • Manager: George Harnett

Full Backs[edit]


Half backs[edit]



A cartoon depicting a moa proudly standing over an injured lion.
Cartoon by William Blomfield, published by the New Zealand Observer following the tour's first test match. It depicts the touring Anglo-Welsh as a "dilapidated lion" following their 32–5 defeat to New Zealand

     Test matches

# Date Rival Location Result Score
Match 1 23 May Wairarapa Masterton, New Zealand Won 17–3
Match 2 27 May Wellington Wellington, New Zealand Lost 13–19
Match 3 30 May Otago Dunedin, New Zealand Lost 6–9
Match 4 3 June Southland Invercargill, New Zealand Won 14–8
Match 5 6 June  New Zealand Dunedin Lost 5–32
Match 6 10 June South Canterbury Timaru, New Zealand Won 12–6
Match 7 13 June Canterbury Christchurch, New Zealand Lost 8–13
Match 8 17 June West Coast/Buller Greymouth, New Zealand Won 22–3
Match 9 20 June Nelson Bays/Marlborough Nelson, New Zealand Won 12–0
Match 10 27 June  New Zealand Wellington Drew 3–3
Match 11 1 July Hawke's Bay Napier, New Zealand Won 25–3
Match 12 4 July Poverty Bay Gisborne, New Zealand Won 26–0
Match 13 8 July Manawatu/Horowhenua Palmerston North, New Zealand Won 12–3
Match 14 11 July Wanganui Wanganui, New Zealand Won 9–6
Match 15 15 July Taranaki New Plymouth, New Zealand Lost 0–5
Match 16 18 July Auckland Auckland Lost 0–11
Match 17 25 July  New Zealand Auckland Lost 0–29
Match 18 5 August New South Wales Sydney Won 3–0
Match 19 8 August New South Wales Sydney Won 8–0
Match 20 12 August Western Districts Orange, Australia Lost 10–15
Match 21 15 August Metropolitan Sydney Won 16–13
Match 22 19 August Newcastle Newcastle, Australia Won 42–0
Match 23 22 August New South Wales Sydney Lost 3–6
Match 24 26 August Queensland Brisbane, Australia Won 20–3
Match 25 29 August Queensland Brisbane Won 11–8
Match 26 2 September Brisbane Brisbane Won 26–3

The matches[edit]

First Test[edit]

6 June
New Zealand  32–5 United Kingdom British Isles
Try: Cameron
Mitchinson (2)
Roberts (2)
Con: Francis
Gillett (2)
Pen: Roberts
Try: Gibbs
Con: Jackson
Carisbrook, Dunedin
Attendance: 23,000
Referee: J Duncan New Zealand(Otago, New Zealand)

Second Test[edit]

27 June
New Zealand  3–3 United Kingdom British Isles
Pen: Francis Try: Jones
Athletic Park, Wellington
Attendance: 10,000
Referee: A. Campbell New Zealand(Auckland, New Zealand)

Third Test[edit]

25 July
New Zealand  29–0 United Kingdom British Isles
Try: Deans
Con: Colman
Potters Park, Auckland
Attendance: 12,000
Referee: A. Campbell New Zealand(Auckland, New Zealand)


  1. ^ Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LVI, Issue LVI, 1 December 1908, Page 4 Papers Past website
  2. ^ Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881–1981, David Smith, Gareth Williams; University of Wales Press (1980), pg 175 ISBN 0-7083-0766-3

External links[edit]