The Wellington Football Club is the oldest playing through rugby union club in New Zealand having played the first match in 1870 although there had been unofficial matches before that between composite teams from the 18th Royal Irish Rifles at that time stationed in the Mount Cook Barracks following the Land Wars - but the honour of actually forming the first rugby club goes to the Nelson Club.
The Christchurch Club was formed some years before but played Australian Rules and soccer until the late 1870's when Canterbury adopted rugby union. The Wellington Club has placed a senior side on the field every year since 1870 and played matches prior to the foundation of the Wellington Union in 1879 when together with the now defunct Athletic Club they were the original two clubs to form the Union.
The Nelson Club went into recess in both World Wars but the Wellington Club despite losing players in the Boer War and in the First and Second World War conflicts still managed to retain their status alone. Almost 30 All Blacks have played for the club over the years with 18 having been All Blacks from the Club. The first were Henry Roberts and Paddy Webb in the very first New Zealand team in 1884 and in fact Roberts was the first player to score for the All Blacks. A third club member Dr Henry McLean was also selected for this tour to Australia but had to withdraw due to his medical commitments.
During a purple patch during the 30's the club baffled all logic when in 1930 after defections in Club sides by some or all of the five who were or were to become All Blacks the senior side was relegated to the Second Division. Remarkably all the stars remained with the club and won by such mammoth scores that a special meeting was held during the season to promote them back to First Division! On two occasions during the 30's the club also provided touring All Black captain and vice captain and against the 1930 Lions fielded 3 club members in a Test.
Many championships have been won over the years but highlights included 1939 when both the Senior First and second sides won the premier titles and during a magnificent era in the 1980's when the club won more Jubilee Cups than any other club. In fact in 1985 the Seniors won the Swindale Shield/Jubilee Cup double, the second side won the championship as did two other open grade teams and from four age grade teams 3 championships were won and the Under 19's were runners-up. In that season the club also fielded two All Blacks in Murray Mexted and Murray Pierce and apart from the Waitete Club in King Country -- home of the Meads brothers -- the club had the record of having had an All Black in consecutive test sides from 1979 to 1990 when Murray Pierce retired.
In addition the club had fielded players in New Zealand teams at all levels from the All Blacks down to Under 18 and as well been represented in Maori All Black and Samoan International sides. The Club has also produced outstanding administrators and in fact were represented on the first New Zealand Council and on every Wellington executive since the formation of the Union. Dr PF McEvedy served the New Zealand Union as President, eight Axemen have been president of the Wellington Union -- 4 last century and 4 since 1900.