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All Blacks who served in WWI honoured in new exhibition in France

Natasha Hill

All Blacks who served in WWI honoured in new exhibition in France

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A New Zealand museum opening in France today features a rugby exhibition honouring Kiwi players who served in World War One.

The New Zealand Liberation Museum has a separate gallery for the exhibition telling the stories of the 1905 All Blacks team and captain Dave Gallaher.

Gallaher is buried in Belgium not far from the location of the New Zealand Liberation Museum in Le Quesnoy. New Zealand troops were instrumental in the liberation of the town in 1918.

The great-granddaughter of Dave Gallaher, Deborah Tubbs, says she is proud of Gallaher’s achievements and acknowledges the sacrifices he made for the country.

“Very proud of what he achieved in that field, but also the sacrifices that he made fighting for his country.

“Seeing as how they were supposed to be the great rugby nations and then this little team from the other side of the world comes along and wins all, but one of the games.”

Dave Gallaher in 1905 during the Original All Blacks tour. Photo / Supplied

Tubbs says it is great to see her grandfather being recognised in the exhibition.

“It is great that it is acknowledged what those achievements were in the various fields that he excelled at.”

The family continues to uphold his accomplishments by honouring existing memorials including the Gallaher Shield of the Auckland Club championships, and the Dave Gallaher Trophy contested between France and New Zealand.

The exhibition will also feature the Māori All Blacks team and a women’s team playing against soldiers in a fundraising event.

Another part of the exhibition will showcase the effects the war had on the sport.

It shows the time when eligible men for the war were strongly advised against playing the injury-prone game.

Colin Gibbons who helped to fund, develop and install the exhibition says he hopes New Zealanders can feel a sense of home while travelling in France.

An All Blacks v France match in Paris 1925. Photo / Supplied

“New Zealand has done something quite unique by building this beautiful old manor house which will be a memorial museum.

“You can be on your OE, you can go and visit it and see it and see the history of all our soldiers who fought in those wars… I think that’s a wonderful way of doing it.”

Gibbons said the idea came about when he and the chairman of the New Zealand Liberation Museum, Don McKinnon, were in school.

“Don... is an old family friend, you know, known him for a long time and we went to school together and it started way back then.”

After finding out about the museum in France, Gibbons knew it needed a dedicated rugby exhibition.

“We should put some rugby part to the opening of the museum and keep it there because we are dedicated to our rugby in this country.”

He then suggested to McKinnon that the exhibition should open during the Rugby World Cup in France.

Gibbons travelled to France for the launch of the museum, which opens on October 11.

Hero image: The Original All Blacks team from 1905. Photo / Supplied

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