Bledisloe: place, man, cup, winners
Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:15
Bledisloe gave New Zealand two wonderful gifts.
On Saturday New Zealand and Australia are again in a match, theoretically for the Bledisloe Cup. Theoretically because the destiny of the Cup in 2013 is decided. But who/what/where was/is Bledisloe?
It could have been the Bathurst Cup, for the gentleman after whom it was named was really Charles Bathurst, wealthy, well-connected, English, a Tory, a member of parliament, a privy councillor, a lord, the governor-general of New Zealand, a farmer with no interest in rugby. The name itself is centuries older than the cup.
Charles Bathurst was the heir to a grand estate, Lydney, in Gloucester, looking over sweeping lawns past azaleas and rhododendrons and stately trees out over the Severn. The estate has been in the family for some three centuries.
Charles Bathurst was born in London on 21 September 1867. He was educated at Sherborne School, Eton College and University College, Oxford, where he studied law, graduating BA in 1890. He was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1892. Like his father he became a barrister, but his real interest was in farming.
He married twice, first the Honourable Bertha Susan Lopes and then, after she died in 1926, the Honourable Alina Kate Elaine Cooper-Smith in 1928. His second wife died in 1956, he at Lydney on 3 July 1958.
Bathurst was knighted in 1917 and elevated to the peerage the following year, taking the title Lord Bledisloe, first baron of Lydney and Aylburton. In 1930 he had been appointed GCMG and on his return to England he was created Viscount Bledisloe of Lydney
In Lydney at the parish church of St. Mary has a large 13th century tower and steepling spire which is visible for a good distance from the town of Lydney. Most of the windows have early English stained glass but in the north aisle is a modern window showing the Franz Joseph glacier in New Zealand. This was given in 1941 by Lord Bledisloe to commemorate his tour of duty as Governor of New Zealand.
Bledisloe? Where on earth is that? The family estate with its grand house is roughly equidistant from the villages of Lydney and Aylburton. Bathurst was afraid that if he became lord of either, he would disappoint the other. He looked up an ancient Anglo-Saxon map and found that in Anglo-Saxon times, the estate was in an area called Bledisloe. It is an Anglo-Saxon name.
On his second marriage Bledisloe gave up all political activity and devoted himself to agriculture – or intended to. Instead he was sent off to New Zealand as its governor-general in 1931. He and Lady Bledisloe stayed there till March 1935 when they returned to England. Their only other visit to New Zealand was in 1947 with a goodwill mission from the Royal Agricultural Society of England, of which Bledisloe became the president in 1946.
Bledisloe gave New Zealand two wonderful gifts.
In 1932 he bought the beautiful area where the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed in 1840 and gave it to the New Zealand people, a wonderful place of pilgrimage and celebration since.
That was his second gift. His first, in 1931, was a cup for competition between Australia and New Zealand, the Bledisloe Cup. In fact it is debatable if it was actually a gift from his lordship. He never presented the cup to anybody and the idea of having one at all first cropped up on the very eve of the 1931 match in Wellington.
It may well be that the New Zealanders, by analogy with Lord Ranfurly's shield, named the cup after the popular governor-general who showed so much interest in farming.
Had he presented the cup in person, the world would have known about it. After all, the New Zealand press called him Chattering Charlie!
It’s a big cup – a metre tall on its base. It has two handles and a lid. It is plated in pure silver. Being large it can contain much beer and/or champagne. They say the All Blacks would fill it with 26 jugs of beer and then proceed to empty it. The trophy was designed in New Zealand by Nelson Issac, and crafted by Walker and Hall in London. In size remains the biggest trophy in world rugby.
For many years there was little interest in the cup. But recently international rugby, which originally had only the Calcutta Cup, has invented all sorts of trophies and the Bledisloe Cup has come more and more into its own, especially as the Wallabies have become more competitive.
There is no record of Lord Bledisloe’s ever having played rugby or indeed of showing any interest in rugby football at all. His grandson, the present viscount, is very keen on rugby. The family have always regarded it as “an incredible honour” that the cup is named after the viscount.
The cup was in fact “missing” for several years until again unearthed in a New Zealand government tourist office in Temple Court in Melbourne in the early Fifties.
Lord Bledisloe was a popular governor-general. He was in New Zealand in depression years. Civil servants’ salaries were cut, and Bledisloe ordered that his, too, be reduced proportionately – a 30% decrease.
Bledisloe became famous for his Red Poll cattle and his orchards. He promoted pig farming, and he kept dairy cows and grew potatoes and grain on his estate.
On one occasion he arrived at Knox College of the university of Otago on an official visit. To welcome him the students installed a pigs’ pen with four white pigs before the entrance.
He had three honorary doctorates conferred on him by the universities of Bristol (DSc), Edinburgh (LLD) and Oxford (DCL), and he was made a fellow of University College, Oxford.
Oh, and there is another Bledisloe Cup, also presented in 1937 by his lordship, but for the best kept village in Gloucestershire. It actually set a trend for English villages.
Bledisloe Cup Winners
In 1998 Australia beat New Zealand 28-7. The rector of St Luke's Church in Mosman, Sydney, put the score on the hymn board - 28-7. It was sung after his wife had read the first line, "The strife is o'er, the battle done, now is the victor's triumph won."
In the case of a draw, the holders retain the cup.
The teams played in 1931 when New Zealand won 20-13 in Auckland but it is not usually regarded as a match for the Bledisloe Cup.
1932: series won by New Zealand
Australia, 22-17, in Sydney
New Zealand, 21-3, in Brisbane
New Zealand, 21-13, in Sydney
1934: series won by Australia
Australia, 25-11, in Sydney
Draw, 3-3 in Sydney
1936: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 11-6 in Wellington
New Zealand, 38-13, in Dunedin
1938: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 24-9, in Sydney
New Zealand, 20-14, in Brisbane
New Zealand, 16-14, in Sydney
1946: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 31-8 in Dunedin
New Zealand, 14-10, in Auckland
1947: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 13-5, in Sydney
New Zealand, 27-14, in Brisbane
1949: series won by Australia
Australia, 11-6, in Wellington
Australia, 16-9, in Auckland
1951: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 8-0 in Sydney
New Zealand, 17-11, in Sydney
New Zealand, 16-6 in Brisbane
1952: series drawn
Australia, 14-9 in Christchurch
New Zealand, 15-8 in Wellington
1955: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 16-8, in Wellington
New Zealand, 8-0, in Dunedin
New Zealand, 8-3, in Auckland
1957: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 25-11, in Sydney
New Zealand, 22-9, in Brisbane
1958: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 25-3, in Wellington
New Zealand, Australia, 6-3 in Christchurch
New Zealand, 17-8 in Auckland
1962: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 20-3, in Brisbane
New Zealand, 14-5, in Sydney
Draw, 9-9, in Wellington
New Zealand, 3-0 in Dunedin
New Zealand, 16-8, in Auckland
1964: New Zealand, 14-9 in Dunedin
New Zealand, 18-3 in Christchurch
Australia, 20-5 in Wellington
1967: New Zealand, 29-9 in Wellington
1968: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 27-11, in Sydney
New Zealand, 19-18, in Brisbane
1972: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 29-6, in Wellington
New Zealand, 30-17, in Christchurch
New Zealand, 38-3, in Auckland
1974: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 11-6, in Sydney
Draw, 16-16, in Brisbane
New Zealand, 16-6 in Sydney
1978: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 13-12, in Wellington
New Zealand, 30-16, in Christchurch
Australia, 12-6, in Auckland
1979: Australia, 13-9, in Sydney
1980: series won by Australia
Australia, 12-9, in Sydney
New Zealand, 26-18, in Brisbane
Australia, 23-16, in Sydney
1982: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 23-16, in Christchurch
Australia, 19-16, in Wellington
New Zealand, 33-18, in Auckland
1983: New Zealand, 18-8, in Sydney
1984: series won by New Zealand
Australia, 16-9, in Sydney
New Zealand, 19-15 in Brisbane
New Zealand, 25-24, in Sydney
1985: New Zealand, 10-9, in Auckland
1986: Australia, 13-12, in Wellington
New Zealand, 13-12, in Dunedin
Australia, 22-9, in Auckland
1987: New Zealand, 30-16, in Sydney
1988: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 32-7, in Sydney
Draw, 19-19 in Brisbane
New Zealand, 30-9, in Sydney
1989: New Zealand, 24-12, in Auckland
1990: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 21-6, in Christchurch
New Zealand, 27-17, in Auckland
Australia, 21-9, in Wellington
1991: Australia, 21-12 in Sydney
New Zealand, 6-3, in Auckland
1992: series won by Australia
Australia, 16-15, in Sydney
Australia, 19-17, in Brisbane
New Zealand, 26-23, in Sydney
1993: New Zealand, 25-10, in Sydney
1994: Australia, 20-16, in Sydney
1995: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 28-16, in Auckland
New Zealand, 34-23, in Sydney
1996: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 43-6, in Wellington
New Zealand, 32-25, in Brisbane
1997: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 30-13, in Christchurch
New Zealand, 33-18, in Melbourne
New Zealand, 36-24, in Dunedin
1998: series won by Australia
Australia, 24-16, in Melbourne
Australia, 27-23, in Christchurch
Australia, 19-14, in Sydney
1999: series drawn; Australia retain the Cup.
New Zealand, 34-15, in Auckland
Australia, 28-7, in Sydney
2000: series drawn; Australia retain the Cup.
New Zealand, 35-9 in Sydney
Australia, 24-23 in Wellington
2001: series drawn; Australia retain the Cup.
Australia, 23-15 in Dunedin
Australia, 29-26 in Sydney
2002: series drawn; Australia retain the Cup.
New Zealand, 12-6 in Christchurch
Australia ,16-14 in Sydney
2003: New Zealand win the Cup
New Zealand, 21-17 in Auckland
New Zealand, 50-21 in Sydney
2004: series drawn; New Zealand retain the Cup
Australia,23-18 in Sydney
New Zealand, 16-7 in Wellington
2005: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 34-24 in Auckland
New Zealand, 30-13 in Sydney
2006: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 34-27 in Auckland
New Zealand, 13-9 in Brisbane
New Zealand, 32-12 in Christchurch
2007: series drawn; New Zealand retain the Cup
New Zealand, 26-12 in Auckland
Australia, 20-15 in Melbourne
2008: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 19-14 in Hong Kong
New Zealand, 28-24 in Brisbane
New Zealand, 39-10 in Auckland
Australia, 34-19 in Sydney
2009: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 32-19 in Tokyo
New Zealand, 33-6 in Wellington
New Zealand, 19-18 in Sydney
New Zealand, 22-16 in Auckland
2010: series won by New Zealand
Australia, 26-24 in Hong Kong
New Zealand, 23-22 in Wellington
New Zealand, 20-10 in Christchurch
New Zealand, 49-28 in Melbourne
2011: series drawn; New Zealand retain the Cup
Australia, 25-20 in Brisbane
New Zealand, 30-14 in Auckland
2012: series won by New Zealand
Draw 18-18 in Brisbane
New Zealand, 22-0 in Auckland
New Zealand, 27-19 in Sydney
2013: series won by New Zealand
New Zealand, 47-29 in Sydney
New Zealand, 27-16 in Wellington
19 October - to be played.
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