This four-part series explores New Zealand social history through rugby, from the first rugby club in 1870 to the 1995 World Cup. In this episode commentators muse on the roots of rugby in a settler society, in "a man's country". Rugby's unique connection with Māori, from Tom Ellison and the Natives’ tour to a Te Aute College haka, is explored; as well as the national identity-defining 1905 Originals’ tour, and the relationship between footy and the battlefield. As the Finlay Macdonald-penned narration reflects: “Maybe it's just a game, but it's the game of our lives”.
Rugby became a superb training ground for making New Zealanders the territorials of the Empire, which is the really the way we defined ourselves, from about the turn of the century through to 1950 or thereabouts ...– Historian Jock Phillips on rugby and war
Made with funding from NZ On Air
Original music by Stephen McCurdy