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Originals jersey has eye-watering price

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Famed 1905 All Blacks 'Originals' jersey has eye-watering guide price for Cardiff auction

An extremely rare 1905 New Zealand All Blacks “Originals” tour to the UK jersey is the highlight of a rugby memorabilia auction that starts at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Thursday. 

The item is likely to be in great demand as a jersey worn by “Originals” skipper Dave Gallaher in the defeat by Wales – the only loss on that 35-match tour 114 years ago – was bought in 2015 by Saracens owner Nigel Wray for a staggering £180,000.

This latest jersey from the famed 1905 “Originals” tour to come to market won’t realise the same price Wray paid for his Gallaher shirt, but the lot will still be valuable as it has a guide price of between £20,000 and £25,000. 

Listed as lot 627 by auction house Mullock’s, the jersey has come from the collection of a former Ireland player, the late Basil Maclear who played 11 Test matches and died on May 24, 1915, while fighting in the World War One battle at Ypres.

Maclear incredibly faced the almost invincible New Zealand tourists in four matches on their tour, playing for Blackheath, Bedford, Ireland and Munster. He was one of 25 people inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame during ceremonies held at Wembley Stadium during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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Mullock’s describe the world-renowned  jersey as “in the best condition in which we have seen one of these iconic garments, carefully and lovingly preserved. It retains all of its original features – including the silver fern badge, the distinctive padded yoke, the many eyelets and original lace to tie up to the neck if wished.

“It is, and clearly always has been, unnumbered, as was the case for many matches on this early tour and in early rugby generally. It has retained its colour, shape and quality of wool.

“It is an outstanding example of this hugely desirable and collectable symbol of New Zealand rugby, the different black jersey of the most successful sports team not just of the year 1905 but arguably of all time.

“Such examples, as have come to market in the last five years, have demonstrated the growth in interest and value of these very rare items. This is a magnificent piece of memorabilia of global interest.”

The previously auctioned shirt purchased in 2015 by Wray was loaned to an exhibition at Twickenham last November which was visited by Steve Hansen’s touring All Blacks squad. That special display marking the England v New Zealand match coincided with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, the conflict that claimed the life of Gallaher, who is All Black No97.

Reflecting on his expensive purchase, Wray told RugbyPass in November: “I regard Gallaher as a genuine hero because he falsified his age to enlist so he could fight in World War One after the death of one of his brothers… I bid for the jersey against five New Zealanders and I’m surprised I got it because it is arguably the most important jersey in New Zealand sport.”

The Maclear “Originals” jersey is the showpiece lot in this latest rugby auction, but two other items should pique the interest of New Zealand rugby followers.

Lot 615 is the last overseas Test jersey of All Black legend, the late Colin Meads. The certificate of authenticity, which is signed by Meads, states that this is his No5 jersey from the last Test against the Springboks in Johannesburg in 1970. The jersey has a guide price of £6,000 to £8,000.

Meanwhile, a twice-signed Grogg of Jonah Lomu in his New Zealand kit has a guide price of £280 to £320. Lomu signed the ceramic figure for a teammate during his stint at Cardiff Blues. 

A twice-signed Jonah Lomu ceramic Grogg is one of the items for sale at the Principality Stadium (Photo: Mullock’s Auctions)

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Famed 1905 All Blacks 'Originals' jersey has eye-watering guide price for Cardiff auction