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1905 Whistle to Kick-Off Wales v New Zealand

IN his 100th match as an international referee, equalling Nigel Owens’ record; Wayne Barnes will kick off tomorrow’s Wales v New Zealand Autumn Nations Series clash at Principality Stadium by blowing the whistle from Wales’ first victory against the All Blacks in 1905.

Scotland referee John Dallas was the man in the middle on that famous day in December 1905 when Wales stunned the All Blacks with a hard fought 3-0 win at Cardiff Arms Park in front of 40,000 people.

Since that huge upset Wales recorded two more wins (1935 and 1953) against their southern hemisphere rivals.  All of these victories are cherished by the Welsh rugby public but the win in 1905 probably stands out because after it, Wales was recognised as the best team in the world and embedded rugby as the national game of Wales.

Before this match the New Zealand team had not only been unbeaten, but they had also trounced most of the opposition they had played on tour. These first All Blacks were an outstanding team.

The Welsh try was scored by Dr Teddy Morgan following a brilliant move initiated by outstanding scrum half, Dickie Owen.  In the second half, the All Blacks threatened the Welsh line several times, and on one occasion New Zealand thought that their back, Bob Deans had crossed the Welsh line and scored the equalizing try.

Scottish Referee John Dallas decided that Deans had not scored, and to this day New Zealanders come to Cardiff believing that Dallas was wrong 117 years ago, and that he should have blown his whistle to signal that Deans had scored.

For many years the Welsh Rugby Union thought that the whistle used by Dallas was displayed in its Cardiff offices. That whistle is shiny and bright and engraved to show that it had been presented by the Union to Dallas for him to use on the day of the match.

The WRU now accepts that the exhibited whistle is not the one that the referee used on the day. It seems that Dallas preferred to use the whistle he blew regularly rather than the new instrument presented to him prior to the Test match.

Toby Goodman, an exiled New Zealander currently living in Bath, bought the whistle and accompanying correspondence from John Dallas several years ago; and in that correspondence, Dallas confirmed that he blew his own trusted match whistle in the 1905 match, rather than the ceremonial one presented to him, before the momentous match in Cardiff.

Fully aware of the story of the 1905 match, Goodman contacted the WRU, and armed with his whistle and the note from Dallas confirming that he had used his “old” whistle in 1905, rather than the new one, Goodman was able to prove to the WRU that he had the original whistle that Mr. Dallas blew in 1905.

To recognize the authenticity of the whistle now owned by Goodman, Wayne Barnes, the referee of today’s match, has agreed to start this Test with a blast on John Dallas’s ancient whistle.

The WRU wishes to thank Toby for his efforts in proving that he had the genuine 1905 whistle and his generosity in lending that whistle to referee Wayne Barnes today.