13 Apr 2010

NZ Maori rugby side told to lose match to Sprinboks says former player

6:42 pm on 13 April 2010

A New Zealand Maori rugby team was instructed by a government minister to throw a game against South Africa in 1956 to prevent All Blacks sides from being banned from touring the country, a former player has said.

Muru Walters, a fullback in the 1956 team, said the then Minister of Maori Affairs Ernest Corbett had visited players of the team in their dressing room and told them to lose the match for the future of rugby.

The directive from Corbett, who died in 1968, ripped the guts out of the spirits of our team, says Muru and the Springboks went on to win 37-nil at Auckland's Eden Park.

The New Zealand Rugby Union is celebrating the centenary of the first official Maori team later this year and have organised international matches against Ireland and England in June.

Maori groups, however, have also requested an apology from the union for bowing to South African directives and omitting non-white players from touring teams to the country in 1928, 1949 and 1960.