Born: 17 May, 1884
Died: 30 April, 1931
Test record: 6 Tests (1908-09) – 2 tries (6 points)
Tours: 1907-08 tour of Australia and Great Britain, 1909 New Zealand tour of Australia, 1913 tour of Australia
Conrad Augustus Byrne was a prominent player for the trailblazing ‘All Golds’ and had the honour of captaining New Zealand in three Test matches against Australia, while stints with clubs in Australia and Britain enhance the imposing forward’s pioneering legacy.
The Nelson native played rugby union for the Takaka and Wellington clubs, also representing Golden Bay and Wellington. Accepting a place in squad of rugby ‘professionals’ – in turn receiving a life ban from the NZRU – Byrne played in two of the All Golds’ three matches against New South Wales enroute to Britain, where he made 17 appearances and scored a try in the historic Test loss to England in Wigan.
Byrne’s three outings during the team’s stop in Australia on the return journey included wins over Australia in the first and second Tests, which sealed the inaugural trans-Tasman series for New Zealand.
In 1909, the forward pack cornerstone played in all 10 matches of New Zealand’s tour of Australia and captained his country in the three Test matches, crossing for a try in the series opener.
Byrne subsequently joined North Sydney for the 1910 season (along with Test teammate Con Sullivan), before spending the subsequent two North Hemisphere winters with powerhouse Northern Union club Huddersfield – a side immortalised as ‘The Team of All Talents’.
Returning home, Byrne turned out for Takaka and Petone (he was named in the Team of the Century for the latter club in 2011), and was the sole All Golds survivor to tour Australia in 1913 – though he featured in just one of New Zealand’s games, against Northern Division.