Two international tours were held in 1888: a gathering of British Isles players arrived in Australia and New Zealand, opening the way for subsequent British and Irish tours. Lions; and New Zealand Natives crossed seas to contend with a British crowd.
In the early days of the Rugby Union, when commercial airlines were not in operation, players played almost never before on various continents. The two tours took place in 1888, when the British Isles visited New Zealand and Australia, and then in the other direction, New Zealand arrived in Europe.
The largest tours of the time included journeys by Southern Hemisphere teams such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to the Northern Hemisphere nations, and return trips by the British alliance team and Ireland.
Tours will last for months because travel is time intensive and matches are played; the New Zealand team started their tour of Hawkes Bay in 1888 in June and finished up in August 1889, finishing 107 matches. Such country teams, whether it’s a national team, a club or either a county or provincial/state team.
From 1905 to 1908, all three main Southern Hemisphere rugby members took the team to the Northern Hemisphere: New Zealand in 1905, South Africa in 1906, and Australia in 1908. Both three of these teams tried out new gameplay, endurance and tactics and proved to be even more competitive than the experts had expected.
The 1905 New Zealand Tournament Team performed their haka dance before each match
Seeing this, Rugby Union Wales chairman Tom Williams invited Welsh team player Teddy Morgan to lead the crowd of the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, in response.
After Morgan started singing, the crowd of fans followed suit. This was the first time a national anthem had been played before a sporting event started. France and England played for their first official international match in 1905.
The Rugby Union was an Olympic sport in the four games of the 20th century. No rugby competitions or international club matches were held after the first World War. Instead, they competed in military teams, such as the New Zealand Army band. There were only a few international matches between Italy, Germany and Romania after the Second World War, though Cambridge and Oxford continued to host the University Match.