Karl Ifwersen

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Karl Ifwersen
Personal information
Full name Karl Donald Ifwersen
Born (1893-01-06)6 January 1893
New Zealand
Died 19 May 1967(1967-05-19) (aged 74)
New Zealand
Playing information
Height 178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 76 kg (12 st 0 lb)
Rugby league
Position Wing, Centre
Years Team Pld T G FG P
19??–1920 North Shore Albions
Total 0 0 0 0 0
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1913–1920 Auckland
1914–1920 New Zealand 7 3 12 0 33
Rugby union
Position Second five eighth
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1912–1938 Auckland
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1921 New Zealand 1 0 0 0 0
Source: RLP

Karl Donald Ifwersen (1893–1967) was a New Zealand rugby football player who represented his country in both rugby league and rugby union.

Early years[edit]

Ifwersen attended both St John's College and Auckland Grammar. He joined the new College Rifles rugby union club and was instrumental in helping the team win back-to-back junior championships in their first two years in ARFU competition. In 1912 he represented Auckland in provincial matches.[1]

Rugby league career[edit]

Ifwersen then switched codes to rugby league, joining the Grafton club in the Auckland Rugby League competition. He played for Auckland before representing his club and made the 1913 New Zealand tour of Australia. He also played for the North Shore club.[1]

World War[edit]

With the outbreak of World War I, Ifwersen joined the military and served for the duration of the war.[1]

Return to league[edit]

After the War Ifwersen returned to New Zealand and again made the New Zealand side. He captained the Kiwis against the 1920 Great Britain Lions tourists.[2] Ifwersen also captained the side in four Test matches in 1919.[3]

Rugby union career[edit]

In 1921 Ifwersen switched codes, playing rugby union.[4] He immediately returned to the rep team, captaining the combined Auckland-North Auckland side against South Africa in his first game back and scoring the only try.[1]

Ifwersen played in one test match for the All Blacks during the 1921 South Africa tour of the country.[5]

Ifwersen continued to play for Auckland between 1922 and 1938.

Later years[edit]

Ifwersen died in Auckland on 19 May 1967, having suffered considerably from football injuries during his old age.[1]


Ifwersen was inducted into the New Zealand Rugby League's Legends of League in 2000.[3][6] He was the first New Zealander to represent his country in rugby league before rugby union. This accomplishment would be unmatched until almost 90 years later by Sonny Bill Williams.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e Karl Ifwersen allblacks.com
  2. ^ Tony Collins (2009). A Social History of English Rugby Union. UK: Routledge. p. 170. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b IFWERSEN, Karl 1913 – 1914, 1919 – 20 – Kiwi #92 nzleague.co.nz
  4. ^ Knowler, Richard (20 October 2010). "Sonny Bill Williams should be a success". The Press. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Karl Ifwersen scrum.com
  6. ^ Legends of League nzrl.co.nz
  7. ^ "Sonny Bill sticks to guns despite unfriendly fire". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2010.