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Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 044: Charles Rushbrook

Like his surname suggests, Charles Rushbrook was a rugby player in a hurry. He represented Wellington on the three-quarter line over five seasons in the second half of the 1920s decade and was an All Black tourist to South Africa in 1928, before his career flickered away and was effectively over as he reached his mid-20s.

The 1928 test series was drawn 2-2. Rushbrook didn’t play in any of the internationals, but he played in nine of the 12 tour games and scored 10 tries including running in a hat-trick against Border.

His other claim to fame from the tour occurred on the way home when the All Blacks berthed in Melbourne and he scored a then All Blacks record of seven tries in the match, also kicking a conversion in the 58-9 fixture.

This was to remain a record as the most tries in a match by an All Black until 1962 when fellow Wellingtonian Rod Heeps also scored eight tries in a touring match in Australia.

Like Heeps, Rushbrook had a track sprinting background that complemented his rugby.

Rushbrook started his schooling at the Terrace School before moving on to Wellington College and won his college’s Senior Athletic Cup in 1924, helping Wellington College to a crushing win in the third annual McEvedy Shield meet that year.

He represented Wellington at the National Track & Field Championships in 1924 and 1925, before rugby took over.

He was in his school’s First XV in 1923 and 1924.

In 1923, Wellington College bounced back from recent losses to St Pat’s Town in their annual fixture to win 16-6. They won the local derby First XV fixture 20-9 the following year as well.

The annual tournament between Wellington College, Christ’s College and Whanganui Collegiate was hotly contested in Rushbrook’s two years in the First XV, all three teams beating each other in both seasons. This became a Quadrangular Tournament the year after Rushbrook’s departure with Nelson College’s inclusion from 1925.

He left school and joined the Wellington College Old Boys club, following in the wake of his father C.W. Rushbrook who represented Wellington 1899-1901 and was in the Wellington College Old Boys  team that won the Junior Championship in 1899 and contested the Senior Championship in 1900 for the first time.

It is unclear exactly when Rushbrook junior made his Wellington debut, but his first try in first-class rugby for Wellington came on 11 September 1926, in a 16-17 loss to Manawhenua in Palmerston North. He only played three times for Wellington in 1926 and just five times in 1927, so must have had made a big impression in the three All Black trials he played in late September and early October in 1927, from which the 1928 All Blacks tourists were selected.

Rushbrook’s WCOB were mid-table in the 1926 Senior Championship, but they struck success in 1927 by winning the title.

WCOB Championship winners 1927.

WCOB started the 1927 season winning the annual Beale Cup 7-a-side tournament, which they would win again in 1928, and went on to win 12, lost three and drawn two of their 17 championship matches.

The Championship went down to the wire, WCOB and Athletic drawing 5-5 on the penultimate afternoon of the season, giving WCOB a one-point lead on the standings over them heading into the last round. But WCOB triumphed on the final afternoon, with 10,000 people at Athletic Park on hand to see them beat Poneke 24-9 and Athletic lost 19-13 to Marist.

In 1928 Rushbrook wasn’t involved in club or domestic rugby at all, because he became his club’s fourth All Black when selected for the South African tour and the team was way from the end of April to the start of October.

He was elected as one of five three-quarters in the touring party, and one of four Wellington backs in the squad alongside vice-captain Mark Nicholls, inside back Lance Johnson and halfback Frank Kilby. There were no forwards from Wellington in the 1928 All Blacks.

The 1928 All Black tourists to South Africa.

In 1929 he played for both club and province but it appears that Rushbrook made just one further appearance for Wellington in 1930 and that was the end of his top end career. His flame burnt briefly and he finished with 29 tries from 33 first-class appearances.

In 1931 he was playing second-five for WCOB in club rugby and after that his trail goes cold so he presumably retired.

Rushbrook died in Waikane in 1987. He was 80.


  • Akers, Clive. New Zealand Rugby Register 1870-2015. New Zealand Rugby Museum, 2016.
  • All Blacks A-Z profile Charles Rushbrook, by Lindsay Knight.
  • Chester, R.H. and McMillan, N.A.C. Centenary. 100 Years of All Black Rugby. Moa Publications. Auckland 1984.
  • Evening Post and Dominon news reports 1926-1931
  • Swan, Arthur C.; Jackson, Gordon F. W. (1952). Wellington’s Rugby History 1870 – 1950. Wellington, New Zealand: A. H. & A. W. Reed
  • Swan, Arthur C. History of New Zealand Rugby Football 1870-1945. A.H. and A.W. Reed. Wellington 1948.
  • Wellington College Old Boys Football Club. Golden Jubilee 1898-1948 Souvenir Booklet

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One thought on “Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 044: Charles Rushbrook

  1. Hi my grandma Ethol Rushbrook was Charles Rushbrook Relative Iam writing family history book information of Charles Rugby achievement is valuable keep in touch yours sincerely Kevin Hopkins

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