You are here
Home > Club Rugby > PIONEERS OF RUGBY IN WELLINGTON 032: Peter Webb


Peter Purves Webb was one of a group of the earliest players of the game in Wellington and was a founding member of the Wellington Football Club, under the leadership of James Isherwood . Webb was involved as an early player, administrator and referee of the game, and played for New Zealand on their maiden tour of Australia.

Webb was born in Wellington in 1854 and spent his formative years educated at Finnimore’s School in Willis Street. Wellington College was opened in 1867 and Webb was one of its founding pupils, attending the school from 1867-69.

The first New South Wales team to tour New Zealand arrived in 1882 and Peter Webb was one of five current or former Wellington College old boys in the Wellington team that faced them in their second match won 8-0 by NSW at Newtown Park on 29 September of that year. Webb wasn’t in the team that was beaten 14-2 a fortnight earlier at the same venue.

Webb then had the distinction of being the first All Black from Wellington College when he toured New South Wales in 1884. After playing in the pre-tour match against a Wellington XV (actually 16), he played seven games on tour including the three against New South Wales in Sydney.

He was also the second Wellington Axemen All Black – listed by alphabetical order after Harry Roberts, who played in the same debut match as Webb and was on the same inaugural Australian tour. Roberts was a halfback so was probably the first of the two to touch the ball as well!

Webb was described by the New Zealand manager, Sam Sleigh as a “strong heavy forward invaluable in the scrummage. A quiet player who did a lot of really hard work”.

Webb played his last season for Wellington In 1885 and also operated as a selector that year. He was on the recently formed WRFU management committee 1885-87, was union treasurer in 1888 and secretary 1888-89. He continued playing for the Wellington Football Club for at least a couple of seasons, helping them win their first outright senior club championship in 1885 and being their captain in 1887.

Wellington-FC-1875 Webb second from left.

Webb later took up refereeing and officiated the first game between his old school and Whanganui Collegiate in 1890, which Whanganui won 1-0.

As well as rugby, Webb was also a prominent oarsman with the Star Boating Club and also excelled at athletics and rifle shooting. He later took up golf and for a time served as secretary of the Miramar Golf Club, whilst he was a churchwarden at St Mark’s Church, and he was married with three daughters.

After leaving school, he took up a position as a civil servant in the Treasury Department and later the Audit Branch. When he retired in early 1919 his position was Deputy Controller and Auditor-General and passed away on 28 November 1920, aged 66.

At some stage after hanging up his playing boots, Webb was associated with the management of the second New Zealand team that toured Australia in 1893, but not in an official capacity. His role was “Visitor, member 1884 team.”

His involvement as a player spanned 1869-1887, providing him with an invaluable insight into the game in its early stages in Wellington.

Webb wrote a column/historical account of the early years of rugby in Wellington that was published on 20 August 1904 in the Evening Post. Extracts of this are included below.


  • Akers, Clive. New Zealand Rugby Register 1870-2015. New Zealand Rugby Museum, 2016.
  • All Blacks A-Z Profile Peter Webb, by Lindsay Knight.
  • Chester R.H. & McMillan N.A.C. The Visitors. The History of Rugby Teams in New Zealand. Moa Pubications, Auckland 1990.
  • Evening Post newspaper various news reports, 1880s and 20 August 1904 edition.
  • Minogue, Peter B. Champagne Rugby. The Story of Secondary School Rugby in New Zealand. A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington 1961
  • 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