Classic rugby photos by photojournalist Peter Bush, in his own words

Classic rugby photos by photojournalist Peter Bush, in his own words

Photojournalist Peter Bush has been photographing the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby since 1949, on assignment for The New Zealand Herald.

In his 70-year career he has captured such legends as Meads, Whineray, Kirkpatrick, and McCaw, numerous World Cups, and documented such tours as the All Blacks in apartheid South Africa and the Springboks’ New Zealand tour in 1981.

Here, Peter provides some commentary for the photos used in our exhibition Rugby Legends: The Spirit of the Black Jersey.

All Black Michael Jones runs with the ball past a French rugby player
All Black Michael Jones is pictured during the 1987 Rugby World Cup final. Photograph by and courtesy of Peter Bush

Back in 1987 the opening Rugby World Cup was played at Eden Park in brilliant sunshine between the All Blacks and Italy. This game is remembered for the incredible blistering run by winger John Kirwan, who ran the length of the field to score his try.

It was a game attended by many and varied noisy spectators from the rugby nations of the world, and it was still the original Eden Park. I had played on it as a schoolboy and it was the same ground I had watched the legendary Kiwi Army team play Auckland back in 1946.

From that opening Rugby World Cup game, other games were played throughout New Zealand, with the final game between New Zealand and France back at Eden Park – also on a fine, warm day.

For some long-forgotten reason I was convinced this World Cup of rugby would be a one-off event. How wrong I was to be shown, and can now look back on the various cup games I have covered in many countries of the world.

But the first Rugby World Cup will remain a special memory alongside the original Eden Park.

In the above photo, Michael Jones races up the field supported by Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford and John Drake, with a lone French player in defence, during the All Blacks’ 29–9 win over France in the final.

A man lies on the ground while another man offers help
Lions players Barry John and Mike Gibson are pictured during the Lions’ 1971 tour of New Zealand. Photograph by and courtesy of Peter Bush

Above, Lions’ Barry John lies winded while teammate Mike Gibson gives much-needed first aid, during a 1971 New Zealand tour match. The brilliant pair appeared in ten of the games during the tour, which remains the only time the Lions have won a Test series here.

Rugby player Israel Dagg jumps onto teammates in celebration
All Black Israel Dagg celebrates victory during the 2011 Rugby World Cup final. Photograph by and courtesy of Peter Bush

Above, Israel Dagg shows his exuberant delight – or is it relief? – at the All Blacks’ narrow 8–7 win over France during the 2011 Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park, Auckland.

Rugby player Charmaine Smith avoids a tackle from an Australian player
Black Fern Charmaine Smith is photographed during a game against the Wallaroos. Photograph by and courtesy of Peter Bush

Above, The Black Ferns’ Charmaine Smith breaks the tackle of Wallaroo captain Ashleigh Hewson at Eden Park on 22 October, 2016, on the way to a record-setting 67–3 win by New Zealand.


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