The Bledisloe Cup is contested between the All Blacks and Wallabies – but who was Bledisloe? “Lord Bledisloe” is an English hereditary title, first bestowed upon London-born parliamentarian Charles Bathurst (1867-1958).
written by Sean Fagan
Bathurst, an enthusiast for the rugby game, was president of Lydney RFC (in Gloucester, England) from its inception in 1888, til he passed away.
In September 1931 Lord Bledisloe, who was at that time New Zealand Governor-General, successfully proposed to the NZRU that he be permitted to donate the “Bledisloe Cup”, to be awarded to the winner of Test rugby competition between New Zealand and Australia.
The trophy, designed by Nelson Isaac, head of the Art School of Wellington Technical College, was manufactured by Walker and Hall Ltd in England, arriving in Australia in time for the 1932 series (NZ won 2-1).
As the Cup is inscribed that it was donated in 1931, and the NZRU announced in the lead up to the one-off Test on 12 September 1931 that it was accepting Bledisloe’s proposal, some accounts have regarded that game as the first Bledisloe Cup contest.
However it is clear from New Zealand and Australian newspapers that it was not contested until after the Cup was made: “The announcement of the presentation of the cup was made last September. The first game of the first series of matches for it will be played in Sydney on Saturday.” (Evening Post, NZ 29 June 1932).
© Sean Fagan