George Nepia (1905 - 1986)
The face of the legendary invincibles
Born in Wairou, Nepia attended his local agricultural college and showed an early flare for rugby. He was selected for his hometown club of Hawkes Bay in 1922 – one of the most formidable teams in the country and the current holders of the Ranfurly Shield or ‘Log o’ Wood Trophy’ (New Zealand’s domestic championship).
Originally favoured as a winger, he was later tempted to ‘second-five-eighth’ or inside-centre in pounds and pence.
position FULL BACK (15)
height 5FT 9”
weight 12st 13lbs
debut IRELAND V NEW ZEALAND DUBLIN 1ST NOV 1924
He had all of the qualities of a great rugby player plus — I think this is his paramount quality — a complete simplicity, a spirituality, which made him a devoted servant of the game for the whole of life. Journalist TP MacLean
He was subsequently selected as full back for New Zealand in 1924 and included within the All Blacks tour of the United Kingdom. He was the only player in the squad to feature in all 32 games, and in doing so, amassing an impressive 77 points. This touring side failed to lose a game earning them the nickname of “The Invincibles”.
After this campaign Nepia’s reputation grew being described as “a fine full back with a safe pair of hands, strong kicking game and a fierce tackle”.
Nepia was not named in the 1928 squad to tour South Africa but he returned in 1929 for a tour of Australia and competed in 1930 as New Zealand hosted the British Lions tour. In 1935, he would switch allegiance to rugby league, a move that permanently outcasted players from union. However, in 1947, an amnesty of the exclusivity ruling meant there was an opportunity for one final game of union for George Nepia. He would become the oldest player in 1950 (aged 45 years old) to feature in a ‘first-class’ match playing against his eldest son of the same name.
Fans and historians agree that he was his country’s “first rugby superstar” and it seems fitting he was inducted into New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
A vintage reproduction of the classic 1924 international New Zealand rugby shirt
Made from 100% cotton, this George Nepia jersey is a study of the original worn by the iconic New Zealand fullback.
Its highly woven cloth delivers supreme quality with a contrast twill collar and featuring nape embroidery commemorating the player’s signature characteristics.
The particulars of the original were carefully studied and reproduced culminating in a ‘bootlace’ collar and quilted shoulder panel. We’ve incorporated the iconic silver fern on the chest with unparalleled detail, delivering an authentic vintage jersey that is tailored for a contemporary audience.
100% British made in our manufacturing facility here in the Midlands, with yarn spun in the same building.
Limited Edition range with only 250 jerseys available!