A New Zealand representative from the St Albans and Federal clubs, pioneering Canterbury forward Abbie Shadbolt played for his country and province either side of the First World War.
He was born in Whanganui and represented Manawatu, Wellington and Canterbury in rugby union between 1906 and 1911. The Merivale clubman switched codes and featured in Canterbury’s historic rugby league matches against Wellington and NSW in 1912, before turning out for St Albans in the inaugural CRL club season in 1913 and touring Australia with the New Zealand side that year.
Shadbolt was New Zealand’s hooker for the first four matches on tour. He scored a try in the first match and was awarded a penalty try in the second as the trip opened with two fixtures against the Dally Messenger-led NSW side, in which Shadbolt opposed legendary Eastern Suburbs rake ‘Sandy’ Pearce.
He later joined Federal after a lengthy hiatus from the game and scored a try for Canterbury against the 1920 England team at Lancaster Park. Earning a recall to the New Zealand side in 1921, Shadbolt toured Australia for a second time; again there were no Tests played across the Tasman, but the 34-year-old was in the front-row for the sole clash with NSW.
Shadbolt later became a respected referee. He passed away in Wellington in 1971, aged 84.
NEW ZEALAND (1913, 1921)