Magazine Article 2009 – Father of Hawke’s Bay Rugby


Father of Hawke’s Bay Rugby


The hardest aspect of writing about Frank Logan is that there but for one letter, the author and Logan have the same name.

Exhaustive research of Francis Logan (1857-1933) provides an intimate knowledge of the man dubbed “the Father of Hawke’s Bay Rugby.”

Let there be no doubt that in Victorian era Napier, Frank Logan was one of the few consistent pillars of the developing Napier community. He was pivotal in the [the] social, sporting, and business growth of Napier and Hawke’s Bay that has never before been recognised by so-called qualified historians.

That’s not all that surprising because Frank Logan preferred to stay in the background rather than stand in the limelight of innovation. He never stood for public office in local or national politics but was able to mingle with princes and paupers alike, and provide the impetus for growth and development.

Logan was the quintessential colonial Victorian gentleman in that he was involved in a wide variety of social and professional circles in Napier and Hawke’s Bay. It must be remembered, of course, that in these times, there were precious few opportunities to be entertained – no radio or television or computers, no cell-phones, no cars, refrigerators, and movie theatres.

He arrived in Napier in 1882 armed with a law degree from Cambridge University and a hundred pounds.

Frank Logan not only became the pillar for Hawke’s Bay rugby but was instrumental in creating the New Zealand Lawn Tennis Association and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Logan’s sporting involvement included cricket, tennis, horse racing and golf as well as rugby. He was also a senior partner in the law firm of Sainsbury Logan Williams, was chancellor of the Diocese of Waiapu, president for five terms of the Hawke’s Bay Club, the longest-serving president of the Hawke’s Bay Acclimatisation Society , the first legal adviser to the Hawke’s Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society, chairman of the Napier Gas Company, a board member of Richardson Shipping Company, on the committee of the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club, and was secretary of the Napier Athaneum Club.

Logan was also a man of substance as the law firm grew to become a prominent Napier legal business. No expense was too great for Logan as illustrated by an incident during one of his many trout fishing expeditions to Lake Taupo.

Logan was to organise a guide from Tongariro, usually Piriwhi Te Heu Heu, hire the pack horses, and arrange his group of fellow anglers for the trip. The pack horses not only carried essential supplies but one would be assigned to carry the cases of alcohol to sustain the party through the journey.

On one such trip, while the party was just outside Napier and had entered the forest area, the pack horse carrying the cases of refreshment was spooked and careered off wildly down a gully dropping the cases which smashed open, spilling and breaking their contents.

Logan looked at the sorry remains of broken cases and bottles and instructed Piriwhi to go back to Napier, with the now calmed pack horse, and reload it with fresh supplies while the party camped at a nearby clearing.

Logan’s credit was good and within a day, the party’s alcohol reserves were replenished and the trek continued.

But Logan’s main sporting interest lay in selecting, coaching, and refereeing rugby teams as well as becoming a powerful administrator of the game.

Upon his arrival in Napier, Logan began his association with rugby in Hawke’s Bay through the Napier Rugby Football Club. By 1884 he was selector of the Napier team which won the Sheehan Cup competed for by the four founding clubs of the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union in the same year – Napier,

[Page 8]


Napier Union, Petane, and Hastings.

Logan didn’t stand for office in the new union which was formed at a meeting in the Criterion Hotel in May 1884. But by the following year was selector of the first Hawke’s Bay team which played Poverty Bay clubs at Farndon Park, Clive, and won 9-0. The team lost its next two fixtures that year, against Wellington and an Egmont XV (from Taranaki) both matches being played in Wellington.

Logan was elected president of the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union in 1886 after the inaugural president, Robert Dodson, stood down for health reasons. It was the start of a long career in rugby administration which continued through until his death in 1933 when he held the office of the union’s patron.

Despite holding office as president, Logan still managed to select Hawke’s Bay teams and referee matches to the extent that in 1888 he was appointed to referee representative fixtures for a total of 14 matches through until 1904. He held the distinction in 1894 of being president of both the Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand Rugby Unions, selector of Hawke’s Bay and the New Zealand team, and appointed referee in two international matches – Hawke’s Bay against New South Wales in Napier and Auckland against New South Wales in Auckland.

Logan formed an important partnership with the union’s new secretary Ernest Hoben 1887 and together they set about the creation of the New Zealand Rugby Union. By 1891 Hoben, a Napier journalist, was able to travel the country espousing the values of national unity in rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Union was born in 1892.

Logan had previous experience in forming a national body – the New Zealand Lawn Tennis Association in 1886 along with his neighbour and Napier stock broker John Jardine. He was a New Zealand doubles champion with Milden Fenwick of Hastings as his partner in 1892.

Logan played an important role in the creation of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 1892 when he was elected to the three-man Appeal Committee (along with George Campbell of Wellington, and Thomas Henderson of Auckland) at the first annual meeting of the newly-formed union which trio was also responsible for selecting the first New Zealand representative sides.

Logan was president of the NZRFU on two occasions in 1894 and again in 1904. He took his family to England and Europe in 1905 and he and sons Ivan and Frank watched many of the All Black ‘Originals’ games on the 1905 tour.

Logan handed over the leadership of Hawke’s Bay rugby at the turn of the century but was elected one of the union’s first life members in 1908 and stayed on as president until 1913 when he was elected patron of the union. The union bought land for a park in 1906-07 and named it Logan Park but it became an octopus that strangled revenue from the union’s coffers and was abandoned in 1910 when McLean Park came in to existence.

Logan enjoyed witnessing the growth of the game in Hawke’s Bay during the “golden era” of the 1922-27 Ranfurly Shield years and often offered advice to selector Norman McKenzie.

Though in poor health he survived the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 1931 and saw his firm’s demolished building reborn in the art deco style before passing away in 1933.

Photo caption – Frank Logan, centre, flanked by sons, Ivan (left) and Frank with Rev G. Fletcher (extreme left) before a spell of trout fishing, Lake Taupo, 1912.

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Excerpt from “Hawke’s Bay Magpies 125 Years – Hawke’s Bay Rugby 1884-2009”, on pages 7 and 8

Format of the original

Magazine article

Date published



  • George Campbell
  • Robert Dodson
  • Milden Fenwick
  • Reverend G Fletcher
  • Thomas Henderson
  • John Jardine
  • Frank Logan
  • Frank Logan Junior
  • Ivan Logan
  • Piriwhi Te Heu Heu

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