Old painting shows rugby fashion of past

Mud, sweat and handlebar moustaches

JOHANNA CLELAND
Last updated 12:00 08/01/2014
Rugby museum Cliff Parker
FAITH SUTHERLAND/Fairfax NZ
RARE FIND: Rugby museum committee member Cliff Parker with the lithograph.

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Mud, blood, sweat and handlebar moustaches are the themes of the New Zealand Rugby Museum's latest exhibit.

It is a rare lithograph of a 19th century painting, and was found on a Hunterville farm.

The lithograph is on loan to the museum in Palmerston North.

Museum director Stephen Berg said the lithograph filled a gap in the museum's Roots of Rugby gallery.

Titled A Football Match, England v Scotland, the original was painted in 1887 by Overend and Smythe.

However, after it went missing, several copies were released in 1889.

The painting is a depiction of the Calcutta Cup, an international football match between England and Scotland, played at Edinburgh in 1885.

Shown is an English player surrounded by Scottish players competing for the ball.

One Scottish player has been referred to as "Mr Kit", the man who developed the kitbag that is now used for carrying rugby gear.

Both teams are fully clad in long-sleeved jerseys, knickerbockers, knee-high socks and boots without studs.

A referee dressed in a suit and bowler hat is shown waving a white flag, very different from the multi-coloured uniforms worn now by international referees.

Two mounted police are visible in front of a large crowd of spectators.

The game was the first time law enforcement was needed at an international match after a bitter dispute between the teams in the previous year.

The match finished in a 0-0 draw.

Mr Berg also pointed out that the painting was said to have caused so much interest when taken to Paris that it was responsible for the establishment of several Parisian rugby teams.

The print joins 2500 other pieces of rugby history on display at the museum.

Other recent acquisitions at the museum include All Black rugby jerseys from last season, English player Ian Clarke's blazer used from 1953 to 1964 and a bright red Welsh jock strap.

"It's amazing what weird and strange things we receive for our collection," Mr Berg said.

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