This first tour by a combined party comprising players from all four home nations to Australia and New Zealand in 1888 was a grand expedition, in which a squad of just 22 players would play in no less than 54 matches over a 21 week period. The tour was arranged by a triumvirate of English cricketing luminaries who had succeeded in turning a handsome profit from arranging cricketing tours to Australia and now sought to do the same with rugby union. Their proposal to offer players compensation for their loss of time in addition to covering their expenses, which were considerable with the tour lasting eight months including travel, caused outrage in the committee rooms of the home unions who denounced the venture as being tainted by professionalism. There was no dirtier word in rugby in those days!
Johnnie Williams (right) was a Welsh winger with a signature swerve. He was the top try scorer on the 1908 tour to Australia and New Zealand. He fell at Mametz Wood.