Arthur Kelly (rugby)

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Arthur Kelly
Personal information
Full name Arthur Frederick Kelly
Nickname Podge
Born (1886-12-24)24 December 1886
Petone, Wellington, New Zealand
Died 1965 (aged 78–79)
Oldham, England
Playing information
Height 167 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 66 kg (10 st 6 lb)
Rugby union
Position Centre, Scrum-half
Years Team Pld T G FG P
Rugby league
Position Wing, Stand-off, Halfback
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1908–1913 St. Helens 64 8 6 0 36
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1907–1908 New Zealand 3 1 0 0 3
1908 Wellington

Arthur Frederick Kelly[1] (born Christmas Eve 1886 in Petone, New Zealand[2]) was a rugby footballer who was part of the professional 1907-1908 New Zealand rugby tour of Great Britain.

Early years[edit]

Kelly was an appretience, working for the New Zealand Railways Department.[3]

Rugby Football[edit]

Kelly, from the Petone Rugby Club, was one of Wellington's most promising young talents and was renowned for his tackling abilities.

However, when in Nelson he was involved in a bet over his tackling skills. Kelly played a club game in Nelson and, winning the bet, received "liberal expenses". His form was so impressive that Nelson selectors reportedly offered him a place in the teams Seddon Shield representative side.[3] This led to the story of what had happened getting out and the New Zealand Rugby Union charged him with professionalism, which would have resulted in a lifetime ban from rugby union. The charge could not be proven but instead he was found guilty of playing under an assumed name and was banned for three years. This left him eager to accept opportunities to play rugby elsewhere.

Rugby League[edit]

As a result, Kelly joined the professional All Blacks in their tour of Great Britain and Australia, ironically receiving the lifetime ban from the New Zealand Rugby Union that he had narrowly avoided earlier. He was one of six players from the Petone Rugby Club selected.[4] He played in three test matches on the tour and scored the first try in the first ever rugby league test match against Wales, his only try of the tour.[5]

He returned to New Zealand with the touring party but signed with St. Helens in December and returned to Great Britain. He was the Saints first ever overseas signing. He became a popular figure in St Helens and this led to the club signing another of the touring team, Hubert Turtill.

Kelly later became the captain and player-coach of the "A" Team and led them to win the Lancashire Shield in 1913-14.

On the outbreak of War Kelly joined the Corps of Colonials in the British Army. Kelly survived the War and lived out his later years in Oldham. He died in Oldham in 1965.


  1. ^ KELLY, Arthur Frederick 1907 - 08 - Kiwi #10
  2. ^ Arthur Kelly Saints Heritage Society, Accessed 27 August 2009
  3. ^ a b John Haynes From All Blacks to All Golds: Rugby League's Pioneers, Christchurch, Ryan and Haynes, 1996. ISBN 0-473-03864-1
  4. ^ Petone Rugby played big part in 'All Golds' Petone Rugby Club, Accessed 14 August 2009
  5. ^ R League: The day Wales made history Wales on Sunday, 23 December 2007

External links[edit]