Oldest known international rugby jersey up for auction

The oldest International rugby jersey in the world' is expected to fetch up to 30,000 euro at auction.
The oldest International rugby jersey in the world' is expected to fetch up to 30,000 euro at auction.

An Irish rugby jersey first worn in 1899 is expected to fetch up to e30,000 at auction next month.

Once a vivid green, the now faded, biscuit-coloured top - the oldest known international rugby shirt in the world - is still instantly recognisable as Irish with its shamrock badge on the chest.

The sale has been organised by Whytes of Dublin and will take place at 5.30pm on Monday, December 14.

Unique to the year 1899, four shamrocks have been stitched on to the 116-year-old shirt’s crest rather than the traditional three.

Handwritten in ink on the ‘Lynch of Dublin’ maker’s label is the name W.G. Byron.

William (Billy) Grant Byron was born in Castlerock, Co Londonderry on July 1, 1876 and died there in December 1961. He was an Edinburgh University graduate and an accountant by profession.

Byron served as an officer in the Royal Irish Rifles during The Great War. He played rugby for Derry, Edinburgh University and North of Ireland.

He won eleven caps for Ireland - the first against England in 1896.

Byron played a further three games against England (1897, 1898 and 1899), four times against Scotland between 1896 and 1899, and four games against Wales - winning a total of eleven caps for his country.

His international career concluded in 1899 with Ireland winning the Triple Crown - a feat not repeated until 1948.

Included in lot 398 is a copy of a press photograph of Billy Byron with some Irish team-mates at Cardiff ahead of their Triple Crown victory.

The auction is being held at Freemasons Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin. Online bidding is also possible at www.whytes.ie.

Viewing takes place Friday, December 11 at 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm and on the day of the sale from 10am to 5pm.

• The market for international rugby memorabillia is extremely buoyant at the minute.

Last month a shirt worn by New Zealand captain Dave Gallaher in 1905 was put up for auction in Cardiff with a guide price of £20,000 - £40,000.

On the day, the original ‘All Blacks’ item was bought by a UK-based telephone bidder for £180,000.

The previous record price for a rugby shirt had been £22,000.