100 Years of New Zealand Test Rugby

For generations of New Zealanders, rugby is much, much more than a sport. It's an expression of our nationhood, of our heritage of pride, passion and rugged determination.

Issue information

These values are personified in our national rugby team - the All Blacks - whose strength, skills and sheer enthusiasm for the game have dominated the international rugby scene for 100 years.

To celebrate 100 Years of New Zealand Test Rugby we featured key moments from past test matches, including old rivals Australia and South Africa, as well as Northern Hemisphere giants England, France and Wales.

A Proud Salute

The first day cover featured all six stamps and an image with which rugby fans around the world are familiar - the 'hand on heart' stance adopted during the pre-match rendition of New Zealand's national anthem.

For Collectors and Rugby Fans Alike

The souvenir miniature sheet for this commemorative issue captured a historic moment - the first XV team that played in New Zealand's first official test match against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, on 15 August 1903. Today fashions have changed, but in the group photo of 1903 you could still see the same steely resolve that our current players have when the referee blows to start a match.

The six stamp images also featured on six maximum cards which included a special silver date stamp (the silver date stamp was only available on the first day cover and maximum cards).

New Zealand's Game

For the complete collection, you could order the 100 Years of New Zealand Test Rugby presentation pack. As well as containing the souvenir miniature sheet, six stamps and first day cover, it told you more about the story of this extraordinary team of New Zealanders - from the early days of rugby in New Zealand to today's highly professional sport.

Product Listing for 100 Years of New Zealand Test Rugby

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'All Blacks vs South Africa, 1937' gummed stamp.

New Zealand has had a long-standing, sometimes fierce, rivalry with South Africa stretching back to 1921 when the Springboks first toured New Zealand. Of all the rugby-playing nations, South Africa has the best record against New Zealand, winning 26 of the 60 tests between the two countries. Whether the All Blacks have won or lost, there have been some memorable test series between the two countries. In 1937 the touring Springboks won 2-1. In 1949 the All Blacks lost 4-0 in South Africa before the golden 1956 home series when the All Blacks won 3-1. It wasn't until 1996 that the All Blacks recorded what many had thought unachievable - a test series win in South Africa. This image captures All Blacks lock Tori Reid chasing the ball in the first test against South Africa at Wellington's Athletic Park in 1937. The All Blacks won 13-7.

$0.40
Single Stamp

Single 90c 'All Blacks vs Wales, 1963' gummed stamp.

A proud rugby-loving nation, Wales has managed just three wins against the All Blacks. The first test between the two countries will forever be remembered for the controversy when All Black Bob Deans had a try disallowed. The close association between New Zealand and Wales was recognised in 1980 when New Zealand was invited to play Wales as part of the Welsh Rugby Union's centennial celebrations. This image captures All Blacks legend Colin Meads ball in hand against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1963, a match the All Blacks won 6-0.

$0.90
Single Stamp

Single $1.30 'All Blacks vs Australia, 1985' gummed stamp.

In recent years, tests between New Zealand and Australia have been hotly contested matches but it wasn't always like that. The All Blacks won almost all the clashes for many decades through to the early 1980s before Australia started to gain parity. New Zealand, however, still has a 65 percent win rate against Australia. The Bledisloe Cup personifies the trans-Tasman rivalry - it was first contested in 1931 when New Zealand's then Governor-General donated the trophy. Australia has held it since 1998. This stamp shows All Black halfback David Kirk chasing the ball in the 1985 test at Eden Park in Auckland - which ended in a nail-biting 10-9 win to the All Blacks.

$1.30
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'All Blacks Jersey' gummed stamp.

The fern has long been a part of New Zealand's rugby identity, first appearing as a gold fern on blue jerseys for the visit of a national team to Australia in 1884. In 1892 it became official: a black jersey with a silver fern. The jersey has continued to evolve over the years with various fern designs, sometimes with words, sometimes without, to what we see today - the silver fern and the words "All Blacks". Young rugby players all over the country dream of the honour of one day wearing this prestigious symbol - to represent their country in our most famous sport.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'All Blacks vs France, 1986' gummed stamp.

The passion and Gallic flair of the French has always made them a formidable foe. The All Blacks first played the French in Paris in 1906, beating them 38-8. New Zealand was captained by Dave Gallaher, whose name now graces the memorial cup the two countries play for. The Rugby World Cup has produced two memorable clashes between France and New Zealand. In the final of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, New Zealand triumphed 29-9 while in one of the most famous upsets, in the semi-final of the 1999 competition, the Tricolores overturned a 14-point halftime deficit to beat New Zealand 43-31. In this image from the 1986 test in Nantes, a gruelling match France won 16-3, All Blacks Buck Shelford and Murray Pierce go for the ball.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $2.00 ' All Blacks vs England, 1997' gummed stamp.

New Zealanders have always relished test matches involving New Zealand and England. It might have something to do with the attitude from the early days that the New Zealand 'colonials' who embraced the game could play it better than the Mother Country. The 1905 Originals certainly showed they could, beating England 15-0. The four tries scored by winger Duncan McGregor in that game is a joint record for an All Black against England - shared with Jonah Lomu who did it famously in the 45-29 win by New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The $2.00 stamp captures action from the 1997 test at Manchester's Old Trafford when the All Blacks won 25-8.

$2.00
Souvenir Sheet Mint, used or cancelled souvenir sheet. $7.60
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $8.10
Set of Maximum Cards Set of six pre-paid souvenir cards featuring a stamp on the front and artwork from the stamp issue. $12.00
Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $24.95

Technical information

Date of issue: 2 July 2003
Number of stamps: Six
Denominations and designs: 40c New Zealand vs South Africa 1937, 90c New Zealand vs Wales 1963, $1.30 New Zealand vs Australia 1985, $1.50 All Black Jersey, $1.50 New Zealand vs France 1986, $2.00 New Zealand vs England 1997
Stamps and first day designed by: DNA Design, Wellington
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin by offset lithography
Number of colours: Five colours, four process colours and one special
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (landscape)
Paper type: De la Rue 103gsm red phosphor stamp paper 
Perforation gauge: 14
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B format.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 1 July 2004.