Gold medallion from New Zealand's first rugby international could score at Webb's


As we've reported, this week Webb's Auction House will be filled with rugby fans and collectors eager to take home some rare and significant memorabilia items ranging from early rugby jerseys, caps, programmes, photo albums and books.

Last week, the auctioneer offered over 1,000 items amassed by a life-long rugby fan, (once a player and a referee) Des Johnson.

But gaining significant attention this week is a 1903 Gold Medallion given to Auckland hooker George Tyler by the New South Wales Rugby Club, to commemorate New Zealand's first full international test match against Australia, Sydney 15th August 1903 where the All Blacks won 22-3.

George Tyler played in that test and a year later, almost to the day, was in the New Zealand side that recorded a 9-3 win over Great Britain in his country's first home international. 


George Tyler Medallion
Some of the Originals with the George Tyler medallion
(George 'Bubs' Tyler is centre in the front row)

George Tyler was one of the 'Originals', the first New Zealand national rugby union team to tour outside Australasia. They toured the British Isles, France and the United States of America during 1905-1906.

On tour Tyler met and shook hands with King Edward VII and is said to have declared that he would never wash that hand again, a remark that was picked up by cartoonists. The team received a rapturous welcome on its return to New Zealand, with George asked to display the hand that the King had shaken.

The medallion which has descended from the Tyler family is 9ct gold with a gold chain and pin and engraved Australia V New Zealand 1903. Typically, rugby memorabilia is amongst the less valuable of types of sports memorabilia, but this piece might be the exception.

George Tyler rugby Medallion
Close-up of the George Tyler rugby medallion

Webb's Auction Manager Josh Williams told us how pleased the company was to be offering the medallion:

"We were very impressed when the vendor contacted us regarding the gold medallion she had in her possession as so few early examples of rugby memorabilia come onto the market. Which is a surprise considering the long history of Rugby Union in New Zealand and that we are such a rugby mad nation.

"The medallion was issued to players to commemorate the first full international rugby test match between New Zealand and Australia thus kicking off a long and hard fought sporting rivalry."

Other highlights in the auction include a signed 1981 South Africa Vs Waikato Rugby Programme. This programme, for a game infamously cancelled, has captured the signatures of all the South African players on their player profiles.

Then there is George Brown's 1958 Junior All Black Japan Tour photo album, featuring Colin Meads and Wilson Whineray in action. All will be present in the October 6 auction, in Auckland, New Zealand and online.

Away from the sale, English rugby collectors will also want to take a look at this fantastic rugby shirt signed by the England team.


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