On and off the field: Rugby and photography

What would a New Zealand photography collection be without pictures of rugby? From local paddocks to packed stadiums, we’ve always taken snaps of our national game. Here are some of our favourites from Te Papa’s collection.

Letting fly. The photographer has caught the kicker at the moment of maximum extension. It looks like the player behind him is climbing out of a hole in the ground. He's not, it's just the angle.

Rugby player kicking for goal, circa 1922, maker unknown. Purchased 1991. Te Papa (A.009936)

Tackling the Lions again. This shot shows the moment of truth as players from each team take the field. Last chance for the Brits, down two matches already. The series ended in a whitewash, 4-0 to the men in black.

The third Test. All Blacks and the Lions, Dunedin, 1983, by Miles Hargest. Te Papa

A less dynamic action shot than some, taken for advertising use. This isn't a particularly comfortable or natural-looking pose. Those hardly seem like the most practical shoes, either. Wonder what they were selling?

Untitled (rugby player), 1924-1965, Wellington, by Gordon H. Burt Ltd, Athol McCredie. Printed from original negative, 1979. Te Papa (O.002660)

A dynamic early action shot. Nearly a hundred years on, and you can still smell the turf.

Rugby match - All Blacks, 1919, maker unknown. Te Papa (O.031028).

A crowd greets the British team in Wellington, 1908. The photographer was a local – he must have got himself onboard the vessel as it arrived. The match in the capital resulted in a draw, but the All Blacks won the other two games of the tour.

Crowd on Wellington wharf welcoming the British rugby team, per R.M.S. Athenic, 1908, Wellington, by Zak (Joseph Zachariah). Purchased 2013. Te Papa (PS.003376)

The days before facepaint and banners. Here's a crowd of spectators in Wellington, paying as much attention to the camera as to the game. That wire fence hardly looks up to code – you wouldn't get away with that these days.

At the Otago - Wellington Rugby Match 1910, by Zak (Joseph Zachariah). Purchased 2013. Te Papa (PS.003376)

This team looks pretty serious, but they've got a cheerful name - 'Kia ora'. The portrait includes a couple of juniors who have slipped in from the side. Are they envious of the kid with the ball?

Kia Ora Rugby Team, 1921, New Zealand, maker unknown. Te Papa