- Ask Steven
The All Blacks' record breakerJohn GriffithsDecember 17, 2013
I want to know whose record Maurice Brownlie broke when he made most appearances for the All Blacks in the Twenties, and who went on to pass Brownlie's total? Jeff Collins, England
Maurice Brownlie was a strapping Hawke's Bay forward who played 61 matches for the All Blacks between 1922 and 1928. His appearances included all four Tests on the 1924-25 Invincibles tour of Great Britain, Ireland and France. He also led the 1928 side during their tour of South Africa, playing in all four Tests of a tied series.
The previous record had been shared by two stalwarts of the 1905 All Blacks. Fred Roberts, a half-back, played 51 times between 1905 and 1910 to equal the mark set by his contemporary, Billy Wallace who made his All Black debut in 1903 and finished his international career against "Boxer" Harding's Anglo-Welsh tourists in the Wellington Test of 1908.
Brownlie's record stood for 25 years until it was equalled by Kevin Skinner, the outstanding New Zealand prop forward of the early post-war period. Skinner started his All Blacks career in South Africa with Fred Allen's "forty-niners" and matched Brownlie's record with his last appearance for Bob Stuart's 1953-54 All Blacks when he turned out against California All Stars in the final match of their tour.
Soon after his return to New Zealand Skinner married and virtually retired from first-class rugby to concentrate on his grocery business in Dunedin. But in 1956 he gave up his business and moved to Waiuku (south of Auckland) to take up farming, and returned to active play with the Counties Union in July. He quickly came to the notice of the national selectors and earned his All Blacks recall for the third Test of the home series against the Springboks.
The series was tied (1-1) when Skinner came into the side for the Christchurch Test on August 18th. He thus passed Brownlie's record and celebrated by making an outstanding contribution to a 17-10 win. He also played in the final Test when the All Blacks secured their first-ever series win over the Springboks before retiring with 63 All Black appearances to his name.
John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.