Rugby: Historian reveals real Steamer, fixes 80 year old error

By Greg Taipari


There is nothing Rotorua's Brent Drabble loves more than correcting a wrong, especially when it comes to rugby facts and figures.

Drabble, a Bay of Plenty rugby historian and statistician, has managed to fix a real doozy which has been around for more than 80 years.

Since the early 1930s, Bay of Plenty rugby record books had indicated Steamers player number 150 had been a J Morrison.

However today, the Bay of Plenty Times with the help of Drabble can reveal the actual person was the father of the late Sir Howard Morrison: Temuera Morrison.

Morrison, played five games for the Bay from 1929 to 1930 as a first five-eighth and at centre.

Drabble said when Rotorua left the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union between 1932 and 1933, Morrison played one game at wing for Waikato, and he would later go on to play two games for the New Zealand Maori in 1931.

The historian, who is constantly updating and checking facts for the union, came across the name J Morrison and wanted to know about the player.

"I couldn't find much information on him so began asking around but didn't have any luck," he said. A breakthrough came for Drabble when checking old newspaper articles on the website www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. The site contains more than two million pages of digitised NZ newspapers and periodicals spanning between 1839 to 1945 from publications throughout the country's regions.

Drabble came across a team list for a Bay squad in 1929, who were to play an East Coast team at the time Morrison would have been playing.

"I came across the Morrison name but instead of a J, this time it had a T Morrison. The T Morrison in the article was called Tom. It was then when I realised they may have been actually talking about Temuera Morrison. Somehow they must of accidentally replaced the 'e' with an 'o'," said Drabble.

Another mystery Drabble has solved is the name of the referee who officiated the 1921 Springboks match against Bay of Plenty in Rotorua, which the visitors won 17-9.

"Records have it as Lorenz Wilfred Meuli. However, I've managed to find that he died at the Somme in 1916 so it couldn't have been him. It was in fact Fredrick Morris Mueli, who was a referee at the time and he passed away in 1955."

Drabble played a major role in compiling names of every Steamers player to have worn the jersey as part of the union's 100-year celebration last year.

He said it was an ongoing job, which he loved to do.

His contribution to rugby was recognised last month at the Bay of Plenty Sports Awards.

The statistician said he was now trying to find out more information on a J Graham who played for the Bay in 1920s.

Drabble said Graham played for Waikite Club in 1921 and was a New Zealand Maori trialist.

If you have information which could help Drabble, contact him on (07) 347 1399.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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