History of the Bledisloe Cup

The Bledisloe Cup is a massive piece of silverware awarded to the winner of a rugby union competition between Australia and New Zealand. It was first donated by governor-general of New Zealand, Lord Bledisloe, after the 1931 encounter at Eden Park.

But did you know that there are actually three Bledisloe Cups?

The first of Lord Bledisloe’s cups was awarded for agriculture in 1930, and is still awarded annually to the best exhibit of New Zealand apples at the annual fruit show. The second of Bledisloe’s cups is awarded for the rugby rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, who had been playing regularly since their first test match in 1903. And finally, the third Bledisloe Cup was first awarded in 1933 to the winner of an national chess tournament in New Zealand, and is still awarded to this day also.

But enough about apples and chess – we’re here to talk rugby!

The Bledisloe Cup has been contested over two, three and four match series over the years, and has been played annually since 1982. It is widely considered the pinnacle of trans-Tasman sporting competition and rivalry. 


Who’s won the most Bledisloe Cups?

It’s no secret that the New Zealand have been the dominant force throughout the history of the Bledisloe Cup, with 48 Bledisloe Cup titles to Australia’s 12 – including the last 18 in a row. Before this 18-0 streak, Australia was on a 5 win streak of their own. 

Bledisloe Cup results by match (not series)

Venue Played Won by Drawn Total points
 Australia  New Zealand Australia New Zealand
 Australia 72 22 45 5 1,230 1,597
 New Zealand 76 14 60 2 967 1,738
Neutral venue 4 1 3 0 79 112
Overall 152 37 108 7 2,296 3,447


Who was Lord Bledisloe?

Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe, (21 September 1867 – 3 July 1958) was a British politician, agriculturalist and lawyer.

A barrister and conveyancer by trade, Bathurst wore many important hats, serving as Assistant Military Secretary at the War Office during WW1, and also chaired the Royal Commission on Sugar Supply until 1919 in the UK.

He was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand from 1930 to 1935 and acquired the title Lord Bledisloe. 

Bledisloe was hugely popular in New Zealand during the Great Depression era, insisting his salary should be cut along with the salaries of public servants at the time to allocate more money to the people.

Bledisloe also contributed to improved Pākehā–Māori relations, purchasing the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and presenting it to the nation as a memorial.

Lord Bledisloe was also a rugby fan, of course, and commissioned the Bledisloe Cup to fuel the rivalry between two great rugby playing nations.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia