Rugby historian's goal is to get the facts right

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 Daily Post, 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. He would later go on to play two games for 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 get more facts about the player.

"I couldn't find much information on him so began asking around but didn't have any luck."

A breakthrough came when checking old newspaper articles on the website The site contains more than two million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals spanning between 1839 to 1945 from publications throughout the regions of New Zealand.

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

"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 call 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 and 'o'," Drabble said.

Another mystery Drabble has solved is the name of the referee who officiated at the 1921 Springboks match between 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.

Drabble's 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.


Tem Morrison's rugby career

Playing statistics of Temuera Morrison:

  • First class games from 1925 to 1933 playing 13 matches

  • Five games for Bay of Plenty

  • One game for Waikato

  • Two games for New Zealand Maori


First class career points:

  • Four tries

  • Four conversions

  • One penalties

  • One drop goal


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