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On This Day – 1950 ‘If rugby football could do this, it must be the greatest of all games.’

On This Day – 1950 ‘If rugby football could do this, it must be the greatest of all games.’

The history of The British & Irish Lions and the New Zealand Maori is a long and storied one but perhaps no match stands out more than the clash between the two in 1950.

The history of The British & Irish Lions and the New Zealand Maori is a long and storied one but perhaps no match stands out more than the clash between the two in 1950.

In the final game on New Zealand soil of the 1950 Tour, the Lions took on the Maori for the second time in their history.

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After a first clash in 1930, this was the farewell game for one of the most beloved Lions sides, who had won over the New Zealand public with their style of attacking rugby.

In a first Tour to New Zealand for 20 years, the Lions finished up the Kiwi leg in Wellington where they took on the Maori in a fantastic match.

During the game Ken Jones – just days after scoring one of the all-time great Lions tries – and Noel Henderson both crossed in the first half, with Lewis Jones adding a conversion and two penalties to help the Lions into a 14-6 half-time lead.

Percy Erceg and Sol Hepere crossed for tries for the Maori, with Peter Smith chipping in with a drop goal in what was eventually a 14-9 loss for the home side.

But this game is remembered as much for what happened after the game as during it.

Upon the final whistle from referee Eric Hill, the crowd poured onto the pitch to salute the Lions heroes and prevented them from heading to the changing rooms.

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Instead supporters sang ‘Now is the Hour’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to the Lions players in an emotional farewell.

As the great Bleddyn Williams put it in Behind the Lions: “If rugby football could do this, it must be the greatest of all games.”

It’s hard to disagree.
 
2 AUGUST 1950
NZ MAORI (6) 9, BRITISH & IRISH LIONS XV (14) 14 (Athletic Park)

 
NZ Maori: Bill Taylor; Brownie Cherrington, Tom Goldsmith, Peter Smith(D), Percy Erceg(T); Angus Douglas, Doc Paewai; John Marriner, Kingi Matthews, Sol Hepere(T); Lance Hohaia, Joe Ratima; Kiwi Blake (capt), S.K. McLaughlin, Walter Waaka.
 
British & Irish Lions XV: Lewis Jones(C/2P); Ken Jones(T), Noel Henderson(T), Bleddyn Williams, Ranald Macdonald; Jackie Kyle, Gus Black; John Robins, Karl Mullen (capt), Tom Clifford; Don Hayward, Roy John; Jim McCarthy, Vic Roberts, Rees Stephens.
 
Referee: Eric Hill (New Zealand).
Attendance: 35000.

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