Sir David Monro was one of Nelson’s founding fathers and in 1867 sent his 16 year old (4th not ‘eldest’) son Charles to England to finish his schooling and prepare for an Army career there. This was a decision that would shape the new Nation, for more than any political decision he made over his 2 decades in parliament.
While it is claimed that Rugby had been ‘invented’ by William Webb Ellis at Rugby School in 1823, it is beyond doubt that Rugby had already spread quickly to universities, clubs and other public schools in the UK by the 1860’s.
When Charles Monro came back to Nelson in 1870, after attending Christ’s College Finchley in London, he talked the Nelson Football Club, newly established in 1868, into ditching the round ball and the hybrid of soccer and Melbourne rules they had been playing and to try out the “superior game” under the written 1868 rules of Rugby using the new Gilbert oval ball he had brought back from England.
Rugby was played by teams of 18-20, and points were scored only by kicking goals, needing 2 goals to win .
The aim was to touch the ball down in goal, which gave the team the right to have a ‘try’ at a goal.
Before going to London, Charles Monro, had attended Nelson College 1861-1865.
The first game of rugby in New Zealand was played in Nelson on the 14th May, 1870, between the Nelson Rugby Football Club team (‘the Town’) and Nelson College (‘the Gown’). In the end the (delete: Nelson Club Nelson Town team triumphed by two goals to nil, with the Town captain, Alfred Drew scoring the first point in NZ Rugby.
Nelson College was the same school that Charles Monro and his 2 brothers had attended in the 1860s, and which school, Ernest Rutherford, the man who split the atom, went to a few decades later.