A whistle, a coin and Rugby World Cup traditions

The first All Blacks vs England test took place in 1905 and New Zealand won 15-0. The referee of the match was Welshman, Gil Evans. After the game Gil gave the match whistle to another referee, Albert Freethy.

18b Rugby World Cup

Almost twenty years later, Albert was still using the whistle! He used it during the 1924 All Blacks Invincibles tour and in the 1924 Olympic rugby final.

Paris 1924 OG, Rugby Men - Final, United States of America (USA) 1st - France (FRA) 2nd.

In 1969, the whistle was donated to the New Zealand Rugby Museum. It was used to start the first match of the 1987 Rugby World Cup. That started a tradition: Gil Evans’ whistle starts the first match of every Rugby World Cup.


A special coin is also flipped before the start of every Rugby World Cup. New Zealand supporter Hector Gray gave the coin to Albert Freethy before the 1925 All Blacks vs England test match. The coin was donated to the New Zealand Rugby Museum and like Gil Evans’ whistle is brought out every four years to begin the first game before going back to its home in Palmerston North.


Find out more about the history of rugby in New Zealand and the Pacific in Rugby: The History. Read about the legendary players whose kicking, running, passing and tackling skills have made rugby the great game it is in Rugby: The Players, the Skills and the Style.

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