The Greatest Sports Tour Ever?

Here’s my candidate:

The New Zealand Natives Tour 1888-1889

Quote from the above link:

And here’s the itinery and player list:


Ok say they only beat one international side (out of three), didn’t win all their matches and so on but for sheer epic value this gets my vote.

Can anyone think of anything remotely comparable in terms of any sport at any time?

Well, your average baseball team plays 162 games in about 6 months…Granted, they’re not all on the road, but that’s everyone. If they make the playoffs, it could be as much as 181 games in 7 months, plus the 30 or so that they played in the preseason, making the total about 210 games in 8 months.

Of course, it’s not a contact sport. But NHL players play more than 100 games in 8 months if they win the Stanley Cup.

Wow, I didn’t realise there were that many games in the NHL season.

(I have only seen highlights and the occassional Olympics game - enough to convince me that it’s no picnic out there, even with all the protective gear).

How big is an NHL team roster? From what little I know of Hockey, there are frequent substitutions and so on.

By contrast:

The Natives played at a time when substitutions were an unheard of innovation (although replacements for injury were allowed) forty minutes each way and were on the road (well, steamboat/rail and so on) for a full year…

The page on “rugby in 1888” gives an idea of the game at the time, and the “Natives and Northerners” page gives some idea of how hard some of the matches must have been. (Note the **deaths in play ** stats in Yorkshire around that time on the latter page!)


Sorry the Deaths in play stat I referred to is actually here

Oh, unquestionably, turn of the century rugby was a more physical, dangerous, and all around insane sport than modern hockey. But in terms of sheer number of games, I think the NHL competes pretty closely.

And, there are about 21 (I think…maybe 22, but around there) players on a hockey team, with 5 on the ice at a time. Plus there’s usually 3 goalies, but only one of them plays per game. Players will average about 20 minutes of ice time per game, for the mediocre ones, with stars around 30, and crappier players at 10 to 15.

Cheers for that, My ignorance has been diminished.

As for the relative riskiness of both sports:

Personally, I’d rate my chances of serious (say ife-threating or permanently disabling) injury would be about equal were I to engage of ten minutes of modern NHL (using your crappiest player time) or forty minutes (one half) of nineteenth century rugby against a Yorkshire team.

Of course I would have to be able to skate to engage in the former (otherwise I’d be just wobbling around trying to get up after falling over - still those skates look pretty sharp).

Your hockey guys are travelling much faster than anyone can run, the puck’s small hard and fast and there’s all sorts of sticks, blades, hard surfaces to smack into. Even with all the protective gear the chance of dislocations, concussion and so forth look pretty damn high…

As for anywhere near a hundred games in a season/year of either NHL or nineteenth century rugby… I guess that’s why they’re pros/legends…