One of Wellington’s finest all-round sportsman.
John Ryder ‘Jack’ Lamason was a year-round captain of club and Wellington provincial teams for several years during the peak of his career in the 1930s. Lamason was both Wellington’s rugby and cricket captain, and he represented New Zealand in the latter sport.
He was also a Wellington club champion billiards player, as well as a talented tennis and table tennis player and later in his life, that ended young, he took up lawn bowls.
His top-level sporting career spanned two decades, both before and after World War two.
Lamason was born in 1905, the middle of three brothers, and he was a student at Wellington College between 1919-21 – but remarkably he never made his school’s First XV rugby side or First XI cricket team.
Lamason joined the WCOB rugby club upon leaving school and soon joined his older brother and wing three-quarter Roy Lamason in the top side. Lamason was a wing forward for the first part of his career, then became a No. 8 when the change came in for the three-fronted scrum and the phasing out of his position. He was also a goal-kicker.
He made a brief move across Cook Straight to Marlborough in 1926 when he played for Central.
He was vice-captain of the WCOB side that won the Senior Championship in 1927 and won the WRFU Beale Cup seven-a-side tournament and the National Mutual Cup (the recently introduced and now defunct one-off post-season challenge match). The 1927 side’s season record was won 12, lost three, drawn two of 17 games played and 273 points for and 167 against.
Six years later he was captain when they won the Jubilee Cup for the first and only time. That team’s record was 12 wins, two losses and one draw and they scored 225 points and conceded 121.
Lamason also captained WCOB to second place in 1934 to winners Hutt, third in 1935 and second equal in 1936 to winners Athletic whom they lost to 3-0 on the final afternoon of the season.
WCOB’s Senior coach in these successful years of the 1930s was Alex McDonald and Lamason joined McDonald as assistant coach and back-up player in 1938. Although the latter was also in Australia for some of this season as All Blacks manager, so Lamason was effectively player-coach. He later headed the coaching of WCOB sides in the years immediately following World War Two.
After briefly playing Colts and Wellington XV team rugby for Wellington, Lamason first played rugby for Wellington in 1932, and made 28 appearances for the provincial team over five years from 1932-36 – before international cricket duties took over (see below).
He played cricket for the WCOB [now Collegians] club, scoring 8,425 career runs at club level. His first Plunket Shield cricket match for Wellington was against Otago in January 1928 and he was a regular in the side until 1947 as an attacking middle order batsman and part-time off break bowler.
In 1935 he captained Wellington against the touring M.C.C. [England] team and came to the wicket with his team in trouble at 29 for 4 in its first innings and proceeded to hit 67 of a total score of 164. He made 28 in the second innings and Wellington went on to win the match, making Lamason the first captain of a Wellington team to defeat the M.C.C. That same season he captained Wellington to the Plunket Shield title.
He went to England with the New Zealand cricket team in 1937 but didn’t play in any of the tests.
He played 60 first-class cricket matches, scoring 2,065 runs with a top score of 127 against Auckland in 1935/36 and took 45 wickets.
In 1938 he married Ina Pickering, who played women’s cricket for New Zealand from 1935-54 and hockey for New Zealand in 1936. Hi sister Joy Lamason also played cricket for Wellington and New Zealand.
He was a schoolteacher and taught at Wellesley College throughout the 1930s during his sporting heyday.
He was still playing cricket when the war broke out and captained the New Zealand Army XI during the war. He continued playing club cricket in Wellington after the cessation of hostilities. All three Lamason brothers served in uniform during the war.
Jack Lamason died in June 1961, aged 55.
In 1962 the Jack Lamason Memorial Cup was established for competition between St Patrick’s College Old Boys and Wellington College Old Boys. Following mergers involving both clubs it is on the line between Marist St Pat’s and Old Boys University when they meet each year in the first round Swindale Shield.
- Akers, Clive. New Zealand Rugby Register 1870-2015. New Zealand Rugby Museum, 2016.
- Beasley A.W. The Light Accepted. 125 Years of Wellington College. BOT of Wellington College, Wellington 1992.
- Evening Post and Dominion various news reports – 1930s.
- McCarthy, Winston. Rugby in my Time Including a Gallery of Rugby Greats. A.H. and A.W. Reed, Wellington 1958.
- Swan, Arthur C.; Jackson, Gordon F. W. (1952). Wellington’s Rugby History 1870 – 1950. Wellington, New Zealand: A. H. & A. W. Reed
- Wellington College Old Boys Football Club. Golden Jubilee 1898-1948 Souvenir Booklet.