Charles Pearce holds a hallowed place in rugby league history as one of the founding fathers of the game in New Zealand and Canterbury.
A Canterbury and South Island rugby union forward, Pearce turned to the fledgling rugby league code and embarked on the New Zealand All Golds’ 1907-08 tour alongside Christchurch Albion union teammates Hubert ‘Jum’ Turtill and Joseph Lavery.
Pearce featured in the All Golds’ first match against NSW enroute to Britain, where he shouldered a massive workload. He played in 30 matches on the British leg of the marathon trip – including all five Tests against England and Wales.
The 27-year-old also featured in all three Tests against Australia as the All Golds made their way back to New Zealand, captaining the side in the final international.
Pearce was named in the New Zealand team to tour Australia in 1909 but withdrew. He was, however, Canterbury’s first captain for the historic encounters with Wellington and NSW in 1912, while he led Addington in the inaugural 1913 CRL club competition.
Pearce returned to the New Zealand side for its matches against NSW on home soil in 1913 but was unavailable for the subsequent tour of Australia. He did venture across the Tasman with the national team again, however, coaching New Zealand on their 1925 tour, where they won five of 12 matches. Pearce was the only Cantabrian to coach New Zealand until Jim Amos in 1952.
He was also a New Zealand selector and served as Canterbury’s delegate to the NZRL.
NEW ZEALAND (PLAYER – 1907-08, 1913)
8 Tests – 0 points
39 tour matches
-1907-08 New Zealand All Golds tour of Britain and Australia
NEW ZEALAND (COACH – 1925)
-1925 New Zealand tour of Australia