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1908 British Lions tour
to New Zealand and Australia
The Anglo-Welsh touring party after arriving in Wellington in 1908. Manager George Harnett is seated in the centre, with captain Arthur Harding holding a rugby ball to Harnett's right
Date23 May – 2 September
Coach(es)George Harnett
Tour captain(s)Wales Arthur 'Boxer' Harding
Test series winners New Zealand (2–0)
Top test point scorer(s)Wales Reggie Gibbs (3)
Wales Jack Jones (3)
1908 British Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia
26 19 01 06
Test match
03 00 01 02
 New Zealand
3 0 1 2

The 1908 British Isles tour to New Zealand and Australia was the seventh tour by a British Isles team and the fourth to New Zealand and Australia. The tour is often referred to as the Anglo-Welsh Tour as only English and Welsh players were selected due to the Irish and Scottish Rugby Unions not participating. It is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950.

Led by Arthur 'Boxer' Harding and managed by George Harnett[1] the tour took in 26 matches, 9 in Australia and 17 in New Zealand. Of the 26 games, 23 were against club or invitational teams and three were test matches against the All Blacks. The Lions lost two and drew one match against the All Blacks.

The tour was not received well in Wales, as the Welsh players selected were chosen exclusively from those players from a well-educated and professional-class background. The selection was in fact addressed by the Welsh Rugby Union who stated that when a British Isles team was mooted for a South Africa tour in 1910, that the players should be chosen '...irrespective of the social position of the players.'[2]

Regarding the Lions uniform, 1908 brought a change of format and a change of colours. With the Scottish and Irish unions declining to be involved, red jerseys with a thick white band reflected the combination of England and Wales. Shorts were dark blue with red socks.[3]

Touring party


Complete list of matches played by the British Isles in New Zealand and Australia:[4][5]

  Test matches

The first test v New Zealand on 6 June
A cartoon depicting a moa proudly standing over an injured lion.
Cartoon by William Blomfield, published by the New Zealand Observer following the tour's first test match. It depicts the touring Anglo-Welsh as a "dilapidated lion" following their 32–5 defeat to New Zealand
# Date Rival City Country Result Score
1 23 May Wairarapa Masterton New Zealand Won 17–3
2 27 May Wellington Wellington New Zealand Lost 13–19
3 30 May Otago Dunedin New Zealand Lost 6–9
4 3 June Southland Invercargill New Zealand Won 14–8
5 6 June  New Zealand Dunedin New Zealand Lost 5–32
6 10 June South Canterbury Timaru New Zealand Won 12–6
7 13 June Canterbury Christchurch New Zealand Lost 8–13
8 17 June West Coast/Buller Greymouth New Zealand Won 22–3
9 20 June Nelson Bays/Marlborough Nelson New Zealand Won 12–0
10 27 June  New Zealand Wellington New Zealand Drew 3–3
11 1 July Hawke's Bay Napier New Zealand Won 25–3
12 4 July Poverty Bay Gisborne New Zealand Won 26–0
13 8 July Manawatu/Horowhenua Palmerston North New Zealand Won 12–3
14 11 July Wanganui Wanganui New Zealand Won 9–6
15 15 July Taranaki New Plymouth New Zealand Lost 0–5
16 18 July Auckland Auckland New Zealand Lost 0–11
17 25 July  New Zealand Auckland New Zealand Lost 0–29
18 5 August NSW Waratahs Sydney Australia Won 3–0
19 8 August NSW Waratahs Sydney Australia Won 8–0
20 12 August Western Districts Orange Australia Lost 10–15
21 15 August Metropolitan Sydney Australia Won 16–13
22 19 August Newcastle Newcastle Australia Won 42–0
23 22 August NSW Waratahs Sydney Australia Lost 3–6
24 26 August Queensland Reds Brisbane Australia Won 20–3
25 29 August Queensland Reds Brisbane Australia Won 11–8
26 2 September Brisbane Brisbane Australia Won 26–3
Played in Pl W D L Ps Pc
New Zealand 17 9 1 7 184 153
Australia 9 7 0 2 139 48
Total 26 16 1 9 323 201

Test details

First Test

6 June
New Zealand 32–5United Kingdom British Isles
Try: Cameron, Hunter,
Mitchinson (2), Roberts (2), Thompson
Con: Francis, Gillett (2), Roberts
Pen: Roberts
ReportTry: Gibbs
Con: Jackson
Carisbrook, Dunedin
Attendance: 23,000
Referee: J Duncan (Otago, New Zealand)

Second Test

27 June
New Zealand 3–3United Kingdom British Isles
Pen: FrancisReportTry: Jones
Athletic Park, Wellington
Attendance: 10,000
Referee: A. Campbell (Auckland, New Zealand)

Third Test

25 July
New Zealand 29–0United Kingdom British Isles
Try: Deans, Francis, Gillett
Glasgow, Hayward, Hunter
Con: Colman
Potters Park, Auckland
Attendance: 12,000
Referee: A. Campbell (Auckland, New Zealand)


  1. ^ Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LVI, Issue LVI, 1 December 1908, Page 4 Papers Past website
  2. ^ Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881–1981, David Smith, Gareth Williams; University of Wales Press (1980), p. 175 ISBN 0-7083-0766-3
  3. ^ Lions change their stripes on Lions website, 17 April 2005
  4. ^ British & Irish Lions results on Rugby Football History
  5. ^ Early Lions: Squads and results (1888–1938) on BBC Sport, 18 May 2005