eorge Sellars was born in Auckland, 1886 although he changed his birth date to 1887 (as one year younger) when signing up for the war. He attended the Napier Street School before being apprenticed to a Mr G T Nichol as a shipwright in Auckland, in whose employment he remained until he enlisted into the NZ army in 1916.
A renowned tough guy, recognised as a hard man in a time when all forwards were expected to have plenty of steel in them, he was the third son of Captain Edward Sellars and grandson of the famous Capt Daniel Sellars of Tauranga. Daniel was son-in-law to well known trader John Faulkner who built
trading ships. His Grandfather's relative - another George Sellars, skippered many vessels including many that either sank or were damaged such as the 'Rowena' which nearly came to grief off the port of Tauranga in 1876 when it collided with the 'Vincent'. He also managed to lose the vessel 'Ida Zeigler' in 1868 off Napier when it sank in a storm. 'Ida Zeigler' was a well known ship which brought many early New Zealanders to these shores over 8 years. Another famous ship, the 'Zealandier' which he was in charge of, struck the 'Ellen Lamb' during a starboard tack. The Ellen Lamb was cut in two and sank within minutes, drowning 8 men and the captain. He also captained the 'Bombay' in 1865 which lost its mast off the north of New Zealand and was towed to safety by a warship. The district of Bombay (Sth Auckland) took its name from this ship which brought immigrants (400 people) to NZ from Downs in England. So shipping was in the blood of the Sellars men through and through and George Jnr was no exception.
George had established himself in the Ponsonby seniors as a 20-year-old, in 1906, but such was the competition for Auckland places that he was not to break into the team until 1909, the great Ponsonby side, one of five men in the pack who had been, or would be, All Blacks. He also played in the first officially recognised Maori All Black teams in 1910.
Like Dave Gallaher, the 1905-06 'Originals Captain', he was a stalwart of the Ponsonby rugby club. Unfortunately a fire in 1920 destroyed most of the club's historical records.
Once Sellars cracked the side he was a first-choice selection. Sellars became an All Black on the 1913 tour of North America. No national team having been selected since 1910. Interesting to note here that he paired up with two other First XIII All Blacks to lose their lives in WWI; Doolan Downing and Henry Dewar. The All Blacks backs were supplied with a torrent of ball throughout the tour which they turned to good advantage, the team scoring 156 tries. All 23 players made it onto the score sheet at some stage with Sellars finishing near the bottom, only managing two tries. Despite the odd-length halves (30 or 35 minutes were the norm), dirt fields and tightly-blown balls, which told against good goal-kicking, the All Blacks won every match with plenty in hand.
He played 29 times in all for his province, in addition to gaining higher honours with North Island in 1912, and further New Zealand Maori selections in 1912 and 1914. Sellars played 15 matches for the All Blacks, including two tests. A sure selection but unavailable for the 1914 tour to Australia, Sellars continued to turn out for Auckland (when Eden Park was brand new) until he joined the army on May 30th, 1916, at Trentham in Wellington.
Sellars boarded the troop ship ss 'Devon' on 25th September 1916, bound for Devonport, England, where he would have carried on with more training at the New Zealand 'Sling' camp in Bulford. After that was finished he travelled to France on March 1st 1917.
Young Sellars kept himself busy in more than one respect upon entering the land of young attractive French women. Unfortunately, as a direct result he found himself contracting VD and ended up in a 'segregation camp' for a whole month!
The day he was discharged from the camp, he joined the regiment again on April 25th and five days later marched out to Division, joining the 1st Battalion, Auckland Regiment on June 2nd. There he made ready for the advance on the small German-held town of Messines in Belgium.
George Maurice Victor Sellars was killed only five days later during the battle of Messines on June 7, 1917, while carrying a wounded comrade to safety. He was the first of three All Blacks to lose their lives in a fortnight during the offense and defence of Messines; 1913 wing forward Reginald Taylor was killed on June 20, while Jim McNeece, a forward in the 1913 and 1914 teams, died of wounds one day later. The same day as Sellars was killed, another 1913 All Black, James Baird, died of wounds received at Messines.
George's body was apparently never recovered, however it was recorded on his casualty form that a Lt McArthur buried his body. Anyway, his name is recorded on the memorial at Messines, erected to bear witness to New Zealand's share in the Battle. Erected by the New Zealand Government, it is a white stone obelisk surrounded by a small terrace and garden in a woodland setting. It stands on the south-western outskirts of the village of Messines. 128 New Zealand casualties are buried in the cemetery.
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All Black statistics courtesy of the NZ Rugby Museum:
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'All Blacks At War: The First XIII'
Wellington aged 27 Last Test 15 November 1913 v USA at Berkeley, aged 27 Rank Private, 1st Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment Serial Number 26923 Died Thursday, 7 June 1917, Messines, Belgium Age 31 Grave (no known grave) Messines Ridge Memorial to the Missing, Belgium.
GEORGE MAURICE VICTOR SELLARS
Born 16 April 1886, Auckland Parents Edward and Henrietta (Maud) Sellars, 12 Tole St, Ponsonby, Auckland. Education Napier St School, Auckland. Physical 1.75m, 76kg Province Auckland Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Ponsonby. AB# 182 Position Hooker All Black Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 27 International Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia,
The All Black Games that Sellars played.
(+) = substitute; (-) = replaced
6 Sep vs Australia at Wellington 30-5
4 Oct vs Olympic Club at San Francisco 19-0
8 Oct vs University of California at Berkeley 31-0
15 Oct vs Stanford University at Palo Alto 54-0
18 Oct vs Stanford University at Palo Alto 56-0
22 Oct vs University of Santa Clara at Santa Clara 42-0
25 Oct vs University of California at Berkeley 38-3
3 Nov vs University of California at Berkeley 33-0
5 Nov vs St Mary's College at San Francisco 26-0
8 Nov vs University of Southern California at L.A 40-0
12 Nov vs University of Santa Clara at Santa Clara 33-0
15 Nov vs USA at Berkeley 51-3
19 Nov vs Victoria (B.C.) at Victoria 23-0
22 Nov vs Victoria (B.C.) at Victoria 35-0
24 Nov vs Vancouver at Vancouver 44-0
Points scored for the All Blacks
t c p dg pts
vs University of Santa Clara,
12 Nov 1913
Test Record by Nation
P W D L t c p dg pts
1 1 - - - - - - -
1 1 - - - - - - -
2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All Black 1913
2 - - - 6
2 0 0 0 6
Australian Team 1913
All Black Team to USA 1913
All Black Team in USA 1913
War Propaganda Poster
Messines Ridge NZ Memorial
Messines First Aid Dressing Station
Messines in Ruins 1917
Or visit another of the 'First XIII'
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Last Updated Information - 05 March 2010