2008 Inductee: J Warbrick & 1888 Natives Team

(IRB.COM) Sunday 23 November 2008
 2008 Inductee: J Warbrick & 1888 Natives Team
At 15, Joe Warbrick became the youngest player to represent Auckland and the youngest to play first grade rugby in New Zealand history

IRB Hall of Fame - Induction No 7 - Joseph Astbury Warbrick and the 1888 Natives Team

Joseph Asbury Warbrick

Personal Details

- Born: 1 January 1862 in Rotorua, New Zealand.
- Died: 30 August 1903 in the eruption of the Waimungu geyser.
- Family: Father Abraham Warbrick, born in Tomorden in Lancashire in 1819, settled in New Zealand in 1841 and married a Maori princess NgaKarauna Paerau. Joseph was one of Karauna's five children (four sons and a daughter) and had seven half-brothers and sisters from his father's second marriage to Harina, a cousin of his deceased wife. Four of his brothers - Alfred, Arthur, Frederick and William - were very good rugby players and played alongside Joe on the 1888 New Zealand Natives tour. Two of them, Arthur and Fred, also died in accidents in 1902 and 1904 respectively.
- Married Harriet Burt and had one daughter, Orini Rosa Warbrick (married name Anderson). After his tragic death she married William Lees and had three sons Sydney (Toss), Ronald and Maurice (Mo), all of them fine athletes.
- Nickname: Joe
- Education: St. Stephen's Native College, (Purnell) Auckland.
- Professional career: interpreter, guide, businessman, farmer.

Rugby Career

- Clubs: Ponsonby, Tauranga, Wellington, Rotorua and Matata
- Started playing rugby at school and became famous for his unusual ability to drop long distance goals, quite often barefooted.
- While still at school he appeared at full back for Auckland against Otago in his first match for the province in 1877, though the match does not appear in the Auckland records, as the Union was officially formed in 1883.
- After school he joined Wellington and played against Canterbury, Otago and Nelson in 1879. He played for Wellington against both Auckland at the Domain Cricket Ground and Nelson in 1880.
- In 1882, he returned to Auckland and played in the two matches against the visiting New South Wales team.
- In 1883, he toured New Zealand with Auckland, playing against Canterbury, Otago and Wellington.
- In 1884, he was selected for the first ever New Zealand team that toured New South Wales. He played in all seven tour matches, but no international caps were awarded.
- In 1885, he captained Hawke's Bay against Poverty Bay in Napier.
- In 1886, he captained the Auckland team who defeated Wellington by two tries to one try in a controversial match at Dilworth's Paddocks and played against the visiting New South Wales (it is not confirmed if he played in all three matches), at their second tour of New Zealand.
- In 1887 he played for Hawke's Bay against Canterbury, Wellington and Poverty Bay.
- In 1888/89 he played for Wellington against Stoddard's tourists and then coached, captained and played for the 1888 Native Team
- From 1889 he played for Tauranga against Nelson, Thames, Poverty Bay and Auckland.
- In 1894, he played for Tauranga against Thames and Auckland and got selected by the latter for the match against Taranaki.

Career Highlights

- The youngest player (15) to represent Auckland and the youngest to have played first grade rugby in New Zealand history.
- He had an unusually long playing career with 17 years between his first game for Auckland in 1877 and his last game in 1894.
- Played for Auckland against NSW in 1882, the first ever international tour in history.
- Played for Wellington against the 1888 British Team, the first ever tour of the southern hemisphere.
- He was the inspiration, the captain and coach of the 1888 Natives Team.
- Played for New Zealand seven times, winning all seven and scoring three drop goals.
- Credited with the invention of the black jersey, silver fern and haka which were adopted by the New Zealand Union after its formation.

Rugby Statistics

- Played for four provincial teams: Auckland, Wellington, Hawke's Bay and Tauranga.
- Badly injured against Auckland at the beginning of the 1888/89 tour, he played in 21 of the 107 matches of the 1888 Natives tour.
- Selected at the age of 22 for the first ever New Zealand team who toured Australia in 1884.
- In Australia, the team was unbeaten and scored a total of 167 points, conceding only 17.

Rugby Tours

1884 Tour results

28 May - New Zealand v Cumberland County in Sydney, won 33-0
31 May - New Zealand v NSW in Sydney, won 11-0
3 June - New Zealand v Combined Suburbs XV in Sydney, won 23-5
5 June - New Zealand v Northern Districts in Newcastle, won 29-0
7 June - New Zealand v NSW in Sydney, won 21-2
12 June - New Zealand v Wallaroo and University in Sydney, won 23-10
14 June - New Zealand v NSW in Sydney, won 16-0

The New Zealand Native Representatives Team

1888 NZ Natives Team: Back row (l-r) J Scott (manager), Arthur Warbrick, A Webster, W Karauria, D Stewart, G Williams, W Nehua, William Warbrick, T Rene, Alfred Warbrick, Tom Eyton (promoter). Middle row: E Ihimaira, R. Maynard, W Wynyard, D Gage, Joe Warbrick (captain), T Ellison, C Goldsmith, G Wynyard, W Anderson. Front Row: P Keogh, RG Taiaroa, W Wlliot, J Lawlor (coach Victorian Rules), E McCausland, C Madigan, Frederick Warbrick, H Lee.

- The 26-member Natives team (also wrongly known as the 1888 Maoris), played a record 107 rugby matches on the tour, the longest and most arduous rugby tour in history. They won 78 of them, lost 23 and drew six.
- They played 74 matches in the British Isles, 16 in Australia and 17 in New Zealand. - They played only one match in Scotland, at Hawick.
- In November-December they played seven matches in seven consecutive days.
- In March 1889, the Natives team played 14 matches in 25 days.
- The tour lasted 15 months.
- International record: Played seven, won five lost two. Victories came against Ireland, NSW (twice) and Queensland (twice) with losses to England and Wales.
- They also played 10 Australian Rules matches.

Haka: According to experts, the haka used by the 1888 tourists must have been the Arawa tribe haka from the North Island, which was different from today's haka used by New Zealand teams. The modern one was the version that Tom Ellison - who originated from the South Island tribe of Ngai Tahu and was used by Te Raprauha - picked up from his wife's tribe in Kapiti.

Silver Fern: The 1888 Natives Team were the first New Zealand team to wear black jerseys embroidered with a silver fern.*

NZ Natives Team


Manager J.R Scott; Promoter Thomas Eyton; Coach J.Lawlor (only for Australian Rules).


Joe Warbrick (Hawke's Bay) - Captain
Frederick Warbrick (Tauranga)
William Warbrick (Matata)
E. Ihimaira (Te Aute College)
William T. Wynyard (North Shore)
Henry J. Wynyard (Wellington)
David Gage (Wellington)
Charles Madigan (Grafton)
William Elliott (Grafton)
Charles Goldsmith (Te Aute College)
Pat Keogh (Kaikorai)
Harry H. Lee (Riverton)
Edward E Montgomery (Mac)
E. McCausland (Gordon)


Arthur Warbrick (Matata)
Alfred Warbrick (Matata)
George Wynyard (North Shore)
W. Anderson (Hokianga)
Thomas R Ellison (Poneke)
Wi Karauria (Nelson)
Richard Maynard (North Shore)
Wiri Nehua (Te Aute College)
Teo Rene (Nelson)
David Steward (Thames)
Richard G. Taiaroa (Dunedin)
Alex Webster (Hokianga)
George A.Williams (Poneke)

What they said:

Irwin Hunter: "J Warbrick went into big football in 1877, at the age of 15, as a full back for Auckland and played until 1894, when he last appeared for Auckland; one of the greatest three-quarter backs ever produced here, and a well-known judge of the game."

Dr Greg Ryan (Historian): "Far from being a blot of the landscape of sport in New Zealand and Britain, the Native team deserves a position of honour. It was the first New Zealand sports team to tour Britain, and the first international rugby team to tour there from any part of the world. In its time the team was treated seriously by friends and foes alike. Some of the reactions to the tour now seem quaint and disproportionate, and the players' exploits almost unbelievable."

Ernes L Eyre (Journalist): "He (Joe) then helped to organise the notable Native combination which toured Australasia and Great Britain with such astounding success as to place New Zealand definitely on the world's rugby map!"

Dr Greg Ryan (Historian): "When the New Zealand Native Football Representatives returned home from Britain and Australia in August 1889 they were regarded as a great team. Their brand of sensational running rugby and combined forward play had never been seen before in New Zealand… They gave a model of skill to guide New Zealand into the future."

Irwin Hunter: "This team (the 1884 New Zealand team) was the finest team that ever left New Zealand. The Native team when it came back was perhaps the finest team that ever returned… When I think of that wonderful team that returned to us in 1889 - W Warbrick, Gage, Wynyard, Madigan, F Warbrick, Elliott and Keogh - I can never see any back in the 1905 team displacing them."

* The IRB wishes to thank the New Zealand Rugby Museum and the Warbrick family for their help in compiling the IRB Hall of Fame profiles for the 1888 Natives Team and Joe Warbrick.