RUGBY started in HUTT VALLEY in 1868
taken from the HUTT CITY LIBRARY
- names in capitals are mine for easier searching -
.. remember this was written in 1940 ..
While there is a record of LUDLAM's paddock being used as a football ground in 1868, the Taita Club, established in 1888, was the first Rugby Football Club in the Valley. The team played in a field near Park Avenue and included:
* Four WELCHs,
* three D'ATHs,
* two PRINGLEs,
* two SPEEDYs,
* Tiki MILNE,
* F. AVERY,
- possibly Alfred Avery (14th child of George & Charlotte)
* R. ROSS,
* A. PIKE,
* with GRAHAM PRINGLE as captain.
In the following year the name of the club was changed to Epuni, after Te PUNI, whose son had joined the team.
In one memorable match with Palmerston North, the late Sir THOMAS WILFORD, who later became M.P. for Hutt and subsequently High Commissioner for New Zealand in London, won the match by dropping a field goal from near the half-way mark.
Mr. "Mot" WELCH, a member of the original team, relates how the Epuni and Melrose teams fought out the junior championship at Newtown Park, where seven games were drawn, until Melrose finally won the championship by a potted goal.
The Epuni Club amalgamated with Petone and temporarily lost its identity. Shortly after this the Kia Ora Club was formed in Lower Hutt and this team, which played on a ground at the north end of Porutu Street, where numerous Government houses have recently been erected, won the junior championship in 1908.
Mr. William JUDD gave the Epuni and Kia Ora Clubs a section of land for a gymnasium and a club room provided the two clubs amalgamated under the name of the Hutt Rugby Football Club. The offer was accepted, but the club sold the land, which was in the brick area, and eventually it built a gymnasium on what is now Strand Park. The club won the Wellington senior championship in 1931 and 1934 and also the club championship in 1937.
Those who have rendered long and outstanding service to the club are:* Mr. "Mot" WELCH,
* Mr. CHARLES SLATER (club captain),
* Mr. J. E. (Tom) La ROCHE,
* Colonel J. E. KING, and the late Mr. Alexander McBAIN, whose memory is perpetuated by the A. McBain Memorial Shield, a trophy competed for each year since 1934 by the Hutt and Petone senior teams.
The present President is Sir ALEXANDER ROBERTS and Mr. C. W. BUDDING has been Secretary for the past 18 years