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Pioneers of Rugby in Wellington 073: Ray Dalton


Raymond Alfred Dalton was a loose forward turned prop out of the Wellington Axemen club who played for the All Blacks in 1947 as a Wellington representative and soon-to-be Jubilee Cup winning captain.

He represented the Wellington representative team in 15 matches between 1946-48, but had previously played plenty of rugby whilst based in Britain as a flight-lieutenant in the Air Force.

He subsequently moved to Dunedin midway through the 1948 season for work reasons and played eight times for Otago in 1948 and 1950 and represented the All Blacks in another 12 matches and three as captain on their tour to South Africa in 1949.

Dalton is also known as being the father of 1978-87 35-test All Black hooker and non-playing injured 1987 Rugby World Cup winning captain Andy Dalton.

Dalton was born in Te Awamutu on 14 July 1919 and educated locally before heading to Wellington and joining the Wellington Football Club.

Lindsay Knight, penning Dalton’s official All Blacks profile, writes about his war years:

During the war he was based with the air force as a navigator in Britain and this enabled him to play regularly for what was a strong New Zealand services side. Included in these teams were an All Black of the 1930s, Rod McKenzie, and later All Blacks such as Morrie Goddard, Roy Roper and Ian Botting.

Of the 84 matches Dalton played at first class level the most, 31 in all, were in these services fixtures.

In these years Dalton had played mainly as a loose forward. But when he returned to New Zealand the strongly built Dalton, who was nearly 1.83m tall and around 93kgs, switched to prop playing 14 matches for Wellington in the 1946-47 seasons.

Dalton played tighthead prop for Wellington in their international tour match against Australia on 15 September 1946, which Australia won 16-15.

Wellington had a mixed season in 1946 against domestic opposition, but beat Auckland 15-8 at home, and defeated Canterbury home and away, 11-7 and 21-9. Dalton was a try-scorer in Wellington’s 14-20 loss to the New Zealand Universities team on 6 July.

In 1947 Wellington Axemen win Jubilee Cup and Dalton was the captain.

The Axemen team in 1947 – Ray Dalton Captain circled.

The strength of the 1947 Axemen was a superior pack and a positive attitude to play attractive rugby. Dalton was forwards leader, that also included up and coming hooker Brian Lloyd who would play several seasons for Wellington between 1946-53 and captain the province and former Cantabrian and 1946 All Black Pat Rhind.

The team started the season off in solid but not spectacular form, winning four and losing two of their first six matches. Onslow were one of the teams to beat, and after games on 23 May the Dominion reported that Onslow were the only unbeaten team after being St Pat’s Old Boys 13-11 and Wellington lost to Johnsonville 12-11 on the same day.

Following their 4/2 record after six rounds, the Axemen didn’t lose again. With Dalton back in the team in early July and with a UFO having *allegedly* crashed at Roswell, New Mexico, Wellington beat Onslow in the first match of the second round to open up a three-point lead on the field. They then went beast mode to beat Petone and the 1947 was as good as won.

The All Blacks toured Australia throughout June and early July 1947 and after playing in two trials in May, he was selected for the tour.

He played in five of the matches, including both Tests against Australia, mostly at loosehead prop, but he also appeared once at tighthead and twice at lock.

On return, he played in their one-off match at Auckland against the local provincial side, which the Aucklanders won 14-3 in front of 25,000 people at Eden Park. This would be the only of 20 games in All Black colours that Dalton would play in New Zealand.

Wellington had another inconsistent season in 1947, but in matches following the All Blacks return, beat Auckland 24-18, beat Taranaki 21-6 and beat the NZ Maori tea 29-8.

There was no international rugby in 1948, but there were extensive trials at the tail-end of that season to select the All Blacks for their 1949 tour of South Africa. Dalton made the trip as the vice-captain and went on to play 12 tour matches but none of the tests. He appeared variously at both loosehead and tighthead prop in these games. He captained the side in tour games against Boland, Transvaal and Griqualand West, winning all three narrowly.

That was the close of his All Blacks and overseas playing career, but he played for Otago again in 1950 prior to hanging up his playing boots, having played 84 first-class games in total.

Dalton worked as an advertising agency manager.

He passed away on 2 February 1997.


  • Akers, Clive. New Zealand Rugby Register 1870-2015. New Zealand Rugby Museum, 2016.
  • All Blacks A-Z, online profile Raymond Alfred Dalton, by Lindsay Knight.
  • Swan, Arthur C.; Jackson, Gordon F. W. (1952). Wellington’s Rugby History 1870 – 1950. Wellington, New Zealand: A. H. & A. W. Reed.
  • Swan, A.C. History of New Zealand Rugby Football. Vol. 2 1946-1957. Whitcombe & Tombs, Wellington 1958.
  • Palenski/Chester/McMillan. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand Rugby. Hodder Moa, Auckland 2005.
  • Headline photo: A. Dalton. Crown Studios Ltd :Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/2-202911-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22719123

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