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The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949

1. Foundation and Early Development 1902—1918

1. Foundation and Early Development 1902—1918

In 1902, while the four foundation professors were still delivering their lectures in the old Girls' High School, their students were beginning to feel that the sporting and social life of the College was incomplete without Rugby. In that year the first College team defeated the Old Boys' XV by 19 to 12; Sydney University opened the negotiations which led to the later interchange of visits; and a committee to investigate the question of Rugby at Victoria was appointed by the Students' Association. The result of all this activity appeared in March, 1903, when a meeting, called to discuss this last matter, carried H. H. Ostler's motion "That in the opinion of this meeting the time has arrived when a Football Club should be formed," and thereby constituted the Victoria College Football Club. The seventeen enthusiastic members who attended the meeting elected a committee of nine—G. V. Bogle, W. Gillanders, A. H. Johnstone, F. A. de la Mare, R. Mitchell, H. H. Ostler, A. G. Quartley, R. G. M. Park, and A. Tudhope—who called the first annual general meeting for April 2nd of the same year, and entered, on behalf of the Club, one Junior and one Third-Class team in the Rugby Union's competitions. No great success came at first, as the First XV did not record its first victory until 1904, and then it only won four of the ten matches played. To the Second XV fell the honour of the Club's first win—at the expense of Poneke by 8 to 3 (1903)—but, in the two seasons 1903-4, this team could boast only two more victories, one of them by default.

Nevertheless, on September 8th, 1904, T. A. Hunter, the College's new lecturer in Mental and Moral Philosophy, moved, and H. H. Ostler seconded, that in 1905, the College should enter a Senior team in the competition. For the new season, the Club colours were changed from maroon and blue to green and gold, and T. A. Hunter was elected Captain of the Senior team. Two wins came, over Poneke 9 to 5, and Wellington 3 to 0. A further indication of the growing strength of the Club was the playing, in 1905, of Victoria's first inter-Collegiate matches—against Otago (lost 0—13), and Canterbury (won 8—6). The Otago match lapsed after this encounter, but the Canterbury game has been played almost annually ever since. T. A. Hunter and F. A. de la Mare, though chosen to represent Wellington, forfeited the honour of being the first Club footballers to play for the province, so that they could represent the College against Otago. Our first provincial representative was G. V. Bogle (in 1906), later a Rhodes Scholar and Scottish international trialist.

In 1906, four teams were entered, and a match played with Sydney University (lost 3—31), but the record of the teams generally was not good.

The first important event of 1907 was the election to life membership of four of the Club's best-known players and helpers—W. Gillanders, T. A. Hunter, F. A. de la Mare and A. H. Johnstone—and the only other happening of note was G. V. Bogle's selection, for the second year in succession, in the provincial side. The sad lack of training facilities, not remedied until the opening of the Gymnasium in 1909—largely, let it be said, through the efforts of the Club, and, in particular, of T. A. Hunter—once more told its tale, and the First XV did not win a single match.

In 1908, came an immense improvement in the standard of Victoria football. L. L. Hitchings and F. A. de la Mare were picked for representative teams, and J. D. Brosnan, F. W. B. Goodbehere, A. D. Lynch, H. F. O'Leary, and de la Mare became the College's first New Zealand University representatives on tour in New South Wales with the first University team.

The following year, Brosnan, O'Leary, de la Mare, C. E. Phillips, A. T. Duncan, A. Curtayne, O. Tennent, and W. J. Robertson represented New Zealand University against the Sydney University team on tour in New Zealand, while Duncan also played for Wellington. The Club's strength was, meanwhile, steadily growing. In 1910 P. J. Ryan, one of the Club's greatest backs, and Curtayne, gained places in the Wellington provincial side. In 1911 the annual match against Auckland University College was inaugurated, the First XV recorded some very meritorious wins, while Curtayne, Ryan, Brosnan, Robertson, A. S. Faire, and R. H. Quilliam went to Sydney with the New Zealand University team.

Ryan remained in the provincial team from 1911 to 1913, and, in the latter year, had as teammates T. E. Beard and Faire. Another New Zealand University team which went to Sydney included Ryan, Quilliam, Faire, A. Sandle, L. J. Shaw, T. Fawcett, and (unofficially) N. M. Paulsen. In 1914, the Club continued to grow stronger, but, in the local Senior competition, still found themselves nearer last than first. Nevertheless, Ryan, Beard, and W. J. Sim kept the Club colours at the top by being selected for representative teams. Before the end of the season, the Great War had wrecked the edifice so long and carefully built up, claiming more than one hundred Club members, many of whom did not return, and sending Victoria College football, in common with that page 97 of the whole city, almost underground for the next two years. When play was resumed in earnest in 1917, the Club was able to enter two teams, as against 1916's one, and contribute to provincial teams A. D. Jackson, G. G. Aitken, V. W. Russell, F. A. Morton, and D. H. Scott. In 1918, Aitken, R. R. Scott, and P. Martin-Smith represented Wellington. New life had come to Victoria College Rugby.