You are here
Home > Club Rugby > Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 025: Vincent Meredith

Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 025: Vincent Meredith

Sir Vincent Robert Sissons Meredith was a leading player for the Wellington Axemen and the Wellington representative side over several years around the turn of the last century.

Leaving Wellington, Meredith later had a noted legal career, mostly in Auckland, and spent time as Auckland’s provincial selector, a manager of two All Blacks teams on overseas tours and a year serving on the NZRU Management Committee.

From Whangarei, Meredith went to secondary school at Auckland Grammar School, before moving to Wellington in 1895 aged 18 and joining the Customs Department.

He joined the Wellington Football Club and had a brief but influential career with the Axemen club in the Senior Championship.

Forming an effective inside back partnership with New Zealand representative Morrie Wood, the Axemen won the Senior Championship in 1901 for the first time since 1890.

After finishing runners-up in 1900, the Axemen enjoyed their first unbeaten season since club records began in 1878 (apart from 1891 when they only took the field in one game). The 1901 Axemen won 10 and drew two of their 12 fixtures, scoring 168 points for and 65 against.

As well as leading players Meredith and Wood, the success of this side was credited to their superior fitness and their training ethic, with coach Charles Rees being a former champion amateur athlete. This team provided a third of the 1901 Wellington representative squad.

Wood had come to Wellington from Hawke’s Bay in 1900.

He first made the national side out of Wellington in 1901, the then 24-year-old’s debut coming against the Wellington provincial side at the end of August that year, kicking three conversions in New Zealand’s 24-5 win. Three days later he lined up at five-eighths at Athletic Park against New South Wales and helped them win 20-3.

Wood went on to play 10 matches and two tests for New Zealand, these internationals being against Australia at Sydney in 1903 and against Great Britain in Wellington in 1904.

In 1901, Meredith and Wood’s Wellington representative team played a then union record of 11 matches for eight wins, a loss and two draws in 1900 and a further 14 matches for 14 matches for nine wins, four losses and a draw.

Meredith’s Wellington representative career spanned the years 1899-1901, and he captained the Wellington team.

In 1902, Wood moved on to Canterbury and Meredith’s job moved him to Auckland and he abruptly retired from playing. Meredith subsequently moved to Dunedin for work and coached the Pirates team in Otago club rugby.

About this time Meredith left the Customs Department to practice law and joined the Law Office as Crown Solicitor. He became a partner in an Auckland law firm and later became Crown Prosecutor.

In 1909 he served on the Management Committee of the NZRU, out of the Canterbury union – so was presumably living there at this time.

In 1910 he was appointed as manager of the All Blacks on their tour of Australia, out of the Wellington union – so was presumably back in Wellington at this time.

The 1910 All Blacks opened their tour with a 26-17 win over Wellington, before embarking for Australia and playing seven matches including a three-test series won 2-1.

It is unknown what Meredith’s involvement in world war one was, but he would have been aged late 30s to early 40s in the war-time years 1914-1918.

In 1923 he took over from double international George Nicolson as Auckland’s sole-selector in 1923.

This resulted in instant success for the Auckland team, who beat Southland, Taranaki, Whanganui, Otago, Wellington and Hawke’s Bay, as well as beating New Zealand Maori 8-3 and the touring New South Wales side 27-11.

He also served as Auckland’s selector in 1924, 1927, 1928 and 1929.

In 1935 he was appointed All Blacks manager. This team won 26, lost three and drew one of their 30 matches on their tour of Britain and Canada, which included four tests.

Meredith was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 1952 New Year Honours. On 11 September 1957, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel alongside Richard Wild.

Meredith passed away in 1965, aged 87.

Article References:

  • All Blacks A-Z profile Morrie Wood
  • Chester, R.H. and McMillan, N.A.C. Centenary. 100 Years of All Black Rugby. Moa Publications. Auckland 1984.
  • Fifty Years of Rugby in Auckland 1883-1933. Seabrook & Farrell, Auckland 1933.
  • THE NEW ZEALAND RAILWAYS MAGAZINE, VOLUME 10, ISSUE 5 (AUGUST 1, 1935). Selector and Manager of the “All Blacks” – Mr V.R. Meredith. By Spheroid.
  • Vincent Meredith (lawyer) – Wikipedia online profile.
  • Quinn, Keith. Give ‘em the Axe. 150 Years of the Wellington Football Club. Wakefields Digital, Wellington 2020.
  • Swan, Arthur C.; Jackson, Gordon F. W. (1952). Wellington’s Rugby History 1870 – 1950. Wellington, New Zealand: A. H. & A. W. Reed

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply