Remembering the ‘Invincibles’ of 1924

Rex Sim shows a collection of photos of the 1924 "Invincibles" team he is hoping to sell to a...
Rex Sim shows a collection of photos of the 1924 "Invincibles" team he is hoping to sell to a rugby fan. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
A local rugby fan is hoping to find a new owner for a piece of rugby memorabilia.

Rex Sim, of St Kilda, has a framed photo collection of the 1924 New Zealand national rugby union team that toured the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and Canada.

From September 1924 to February 1925, the team embarked on an impressive streak, playing 32 games, including test matches against Ireland, England, Wales and France.

They triumphed in every game, amassing 838 points while conceding only 116.

Led by captain Cliff Porter and featuring star players including George Nēpia and the Brownlie brothers, Cyril and Maurice, the team captivated spectators with their extraordinary skill and resilience.

Recognising their incredible triumph, the team was nicknamed "The Invincibles".

Mr Sim, 94, said a highlight for him was meeting one of the star players, George Nēpia, many years ago.

"He was a great man. He was at a life members’ do at the Southern Football Club, and I was talking to him there.

"He was a fullback and he specialised in placing his kick where he wanted to. He was great for that."

Mr Sim possesses a framed collection of photos of the team, most likely a set of 30 cigarette cards that were produced by the R&J Hill company to commemorate the undefeated tour.

He said he first obtained the collection of photos many years ago.

A lifelong rugby enthusiast, he became a member of the St Kilda Pirates Rugby Football Club when he was about 17.

"I started off with the third grade team, and then I played for many years in the second grade, mostly.

"I only had a year and a-half in the seniors."

His main position was in the front row, as a loosehead prop.

"I was always pleased to play, I loved it."

In the 1950s, the club made changes to its clubrooms to make way for a new gymnasium, and items such as the Invincibles photo collection were given away to members.

For a short period, he hung it on his wall, but for decades it has been stored away.

As the anniversary of the tour approaches, Mr Sim was reminded of the collection and he hopes to sell it to someone who would value it.

"As I’m getting on, there’s no use it sitting on a wall, you know, and it might make something to give to my daughter."

1924 team

The All Blacks New Zealand rugby team for 1924 were Lui Paewai (Hawke’s Bay), James H. Parker (Canterbury), Maurice Brownlie (Hawke’s Bay), Alf West (Taranaki), Andrew White (Southland), Mark Nicholls (Wellington), Cliff Porter (Wellington, captain);  Alan Robilliard (Canterbury), Brian McCleary (Canterbury), Ian Harvey (Wairarapa), Cyril Brownlie (Hawke’s Bay), Les Cupples (Bay of Plenty), Ron Stewart (South Canterbury), Fred Lucas (Auckland), Jimmy Mill (Hawke’s Bay);  Neil McGregor (Canterbury), Gus Hart (Taranaki), Bull Irvine (Hawke’s Bay), Jack Steel (West Coast), Read Masters (Canterbury), Handley Brown (Taranaki), Quentin Donald (Wairarapa), George Nēpia (Hawke’s Bay), Snowy Svenson (Wellington); Abe Munro (Otago), Ces Badeley (Auckland), Stanley Dean (Wellington, manager), Jock Richardson (Southland), Bert Cooke (Auckland) and Bill Dailey (Canterbury).