Skip Navigation Links

John Gallagher - Rugby World Cup Winner

John Anthony Gallagher

John Anthony Gallagher, an English man by birth, was a member of the New Zealand All Back team that won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1887 and in 1990 was named International Player of the Year. His skill can be seen in a clip on You Tube.

Like the other great rugby playing holder of our surname, Dave Gallaher, John was a rarity in All Black terms in that he was not born in New Zealand. While Dave was born in Ireland, John was born in London, England on the 29th of January 1964 and chose to play for the All Blacks squad instead of the English one. He was 23 years old when he made it to the All Blacks or the New Zealand rugby union squad.

John initially travelled to New Zealand to play club rugby in Wellington but his athleticism and pace made such an impact that he quickly won selection for the province’s representative side. All Blacks selection followed for the tour to France in 1986 and a year later he made his Test debut in the first ever Rugby World Cup match against Italy at Eden Park on 22 May 1987, one the All Blacks won 70-6. He didn’t score in that match, but an All Black record equalling four tries against Fiji in the next pool match, followed by another against Scotland in the quarter final, helped New Zealand into the final against France. This took place in Eden Park, Auckland.

John In Action

The full back showed his commitment to the cause and this ensured that he was quickly accepted by the rugby mad New Zealenders after his rapid rise to the national side. With 13 tries in 18 Tests for the All Blacks, John was named International Player of the Year in 1990 but then stunned everyone in the union code by signing for English rugby league side Leeds. His last appearance for the All Blacks came against Ireland on the 18th of November, 1989 in Dublin. He was never on a loosing side in his 18 test matches and there was only one draw on his watch.

However the transition proved difficult and he never achieved the heights in rugby league that he did in rugby union. He later became director of sport at Colfe’s School in London.

Further information on his playing careet can be had at and