In popular memory, rugby players during the Great War were heroes, athletes turned soldiers, making noble sacrifices for the “greater game” of war as they traded the cheers of spectators for the roar of artillery fire.  This interactive, multimedia-based exhibition explores the impact that the harsh reality of war had on colonial sportsmen (and their loved ones) as they were transplanted from the rugby fields of home overseas to fight for the ‘mother country’.

Developed and toured by the NZ Rugby Museum

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to a host of funders and supporters that have come together from across New Zealand. Two years in the making, it opened in Palmerston North on 22 August 2015 and will tour the country until 2019 (view tour itinerary).

View of exhibition entrance

 Visitors enter the intimate, self-contained c.120m2 gallery space through the ‘Home Ground’ Entrance – a stylised 1914 rugby changing room. Here they meet their on-screen guide for the exhibition, Anton Oliver, and the XV players and a coach whose life stories feature throughout. An immersive graphics-backed space, specially-created short films written by Ian Mune, and vintage soundtracks and archival material take the visitor on a hands-on and multimedia-based journey from the rugby field to the battlefield and back again.

“New Zealand Rugby is very pleased to hear of your intention to take on a major exhibition for 2015- 2017 to commemorate WW1 and New Zealand Rugby’s involvement and links. There is no doubt that such an exhibition would have great interest for rugby and beyond, and mark a very special time in New Zealand’s history.”

Steve Tew, Chief Executive NZRU