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All Golds Rugby League Team

The 2007 All Golds Tour is a celebration of a century of rugby league in New Zealand. It will be a re-creation of the original New Zealand rugby league tour of Great Britain in 1907.

In 1905 New Zealand's rugby union team toured Great Britain and witnessed the growing popularity of the professional Northern Union rugby code. With this popularity in mind, and sensing a financial opportunity, Albert Henry Baskerville recruited a group of players for a professional tour of Great Britain, and wrote to the Northern Rugby Football Union asking if they would host a New Zealand touring party. This team toured Australia and then Great Britain in 1907, and was known colloquially as the All Golds, or Professional All Blacks. The New Zealand side will play a total of 11 matches while on their European tour.

2007 Fixtures

13 October 2007: New Zealand versus Australia (Wellington) 
21 October 2007: New Zealand versus the Northern Union (Warrington) - Centenary International 
27 October 2007: New Zealand versus Great Britain (Huddersfield) - 1st Test 
3 November 2007: New Zealand versus Great Britain (Hull) - 2nd Test 
10 November 2007: New Zealand versus Great Britain (Wigan) - 3rd Test 
17 November 2007: New Zealand versus France (Paris) 

There were plans to play 5 midweek games against the likes of the England Under 19's, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Cumbria, but these matches were shelved.

Australian representatives

To celebrate the inclusion of Australia's Dally Messenger in the original All Golds tour Warriors captain and Queensland front row Steve Price. The Australian Test prop said it was "mind-blowing". Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has accepted the invitation from the New Zealand Rugby League to join the tour

New Zealand Players

Ruben Wiki is the captain of the team with Kiwi legend Stacy Jones making a come back to play

How the All Golds Started

George Smith cabled a friend in Sydney to enquire whether there might be any support for a tour by his New Zealand professional team. Word reached Giltinan, who took great interest. Giltinan announced that he had invited Baskerville's team to play three matches in Sydney. The Australian press responded by dubbing the travelling New Zealand team "All Golds", a sardonic play on the nickname of the existing amateur New Zealand rugby team, the "All Blacks" and the supposed "mercenary" nature of the new code. The games were a great success; leaving the rugby rebels of Australia with much needed funds which soon proved to be vital for rugby league in Australia.

The All Golds tour

When the All Golds stopped off in Australia, three games were played at the Sydney Showground, against a professional NSW rugby team. These games were played under rugby union laws, as no copies of the Northern Union laws were available. Baskerville was greatly impressed by Dally Messenger, and persuaded him to join the touring party. For this reason, the All Golds are sometimes known as Australasia, rather than New Zealand.

The All Golds arrived in Britain late in 1907 having never even seen a match played under the new Northern Union laws. They undertook a week's intensive coaching in Leeds to bring them up to speed, and after playing a number of touring matches the first true rugby league test was played, with the team going down 8-9 to Wales in Aberdare on 1st January 1908. The All Golds gained revenge however, defeating the full Great Britain side in two of the three Test matches, which were played at Leeds, Chelsea and Cheltenham; a surprising choice of venues given rugby league's northern base. The tour was a great success, and gave a much needed boost to the game in Britain, which was struggling financially against the rise of association football.

Queensland and the All Golds

The All Golds tour also served to kick start the game in the Australian state of Queensland, the great rival of NSW in rugby. On May 16, 1908, the returning New Zealanders played a hastily assembled Queensland team in Brisbane. Observers of the new game were shocked when Albert Baskerville fell ill in Brisbane and died of pneumonia. (Test series between Great Britain and New Zealand are played for the Baskerville Shield, named in his memory.)

A "Queensland Rugby Football Association" was founded, and in early July, informal club games were played in Brisbane. Later that month there were three representative games against NSW, and these acted as selection trials for a national team. The first game was also notable for a Queensland tackle which rendered one NSW player, Ed "Son" Fry, completely naked from the waist down an event which did not stop him from scoring a try.

The Brisbane Rugby League premiership began in 1909. By the 1920s the Queensland Rugby League had established itself as a force to rival the NSWRL.

Early setbacks for the game in New Zealand

Apart from the blow presented by the sudden and premature death of Baskerville, other difficulties would soon trouble the game in New Zealand. In some ways, the All Golds were too successful for the good of New Zealand rugby league, as many team members would soon accept lucrative contracts with British clubs. Baskerville's game would soon establish a strong following, especially in Auckland, but rugby union's strong grassroots organisation and finances in New Zealand  its "veiled professionalism" in the eyes of many observers at the time  meant that rugby league was unable to become quite as dominant there as in some regions of Australia and England.



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