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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 19:00 GMT
All Blacks tribute to Irish star
All Blacks player with champagne bottle
The new rugby ground was officially 'launched' by the All Blacks team
The New Zealand All-Black rugby team have commemorated their historic Donegal-born captain Dave Gallaher.

The side was in the county on Wednesday to unveil a plaque in Ramelton at the birth place of the man who led their Originals tour to his home country 100 years ago.

The Gallaher family emigrated to New Zealand in 1878 when Dave was five-years-old.

He captained the 1905-06 tourists, the team which was the first to be called 'the All Blacks'.

"Dave Gallaher is a great among greats," said All Blacks captain Tana Umaga.

"He was instrumental in building the All Blacks tradition. We're pleased for the chance to pay our respects"

During Wednesday's visit, the team will officially name the local rugby facility Dave Gallaher Memorial Park.

The Park is home to the Letterkenny RFC and All Blacks players will join some of the club's players in a skills session during the opening.

Tana Umaga
Gallaher was a great, said Tana Umaga, the 2005 team captain
Gallaher first played for New Zealand against Australia in 1903 but the 1905 tour of Great Britain, Ireland, France and the USA redefined the game of rugby and helped a fledgling New Zealand forge a national identity.

Gallaher died during World War One and while several All Blacks teams have visited his grave in Belgium, the visit to his birthplace in County Donegal is thought to be a first.

Letterkenny is one of Ireland's smallest rugby clubs and club president Denis Faulkner said local organisers have been inspired by the regard for Gallaher within New Zealand rugby after 100 years.

"The respect for Dave Gallaher in New Zealand is remarkable and we want him to be a household name here too," he said.

"The All Blacks visit will also help develop the game in this part of Ireland."

The All Blacks will also have a mascot from the Letterkenny area when they play their Test against Ireland on 12 November.


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