The MacRobertson Shield

About the founder – Sir Macpherson Robertson

Sir Macpherson Robertson, known as Mac, was an Australian industrialist and croquet player. He was born in 1860 in Ballarat, Victoria. Accounts of Mac’s early life show he had a fickle father and Mac had to learn at an early age to support the family. Schooling was a casualty to the need to earn money but it appears that Mac was both intelligent and smart. He grew up in Australia and then in Scotland. Later when the family moved back to Australia, Mac apprenticed himself to a confectioner in Melbourne and began a career that saw him become the most successful entrepreneur – and the highest taxed person – in Australia.

At the age of 19 he set up his own business making sweets in his mother’s bathroom from Mondays to Thursdays and then selling them around Melbourne on Fridays and Saturdays. By 1925 his business’s turnover was a staggering £2 million – roughly equivalent to £90 million today. Alongside his business success, Mac is reported to have been obsessed with keeping fit both physically and mentally. For physical fitness he punched a boxing speed ball each day and for mental fitness he chose croquet relishing the strategy and mental skills needed.

According to the Australia Croquet Association, “After the World War he saw the new entertainment of cinema as a new outlet for his lollies and chocolates. He enlisted veteran servicemen to take up these concessions. Most of the young vets had no idea of running a business and some failed, owing Mac money for his stock. He realised that he would have to train them and his other concessionaires in business management (or street smarts). He realised then and there the value of the thinking sport of croquet and had them all take it up to play whenever they were free. Croquet proved a wonderful teaching aid for training them in self discipline, risk management and a host of other attitudes which had to be changed. Eventually, Mac had more than enough veteran croquet players to run tournaments with very good prizes. In 1925, wishing to do something spectacular to create more media interest in his products and for his veteran players he sponsored the MacRobertson Shield between Australia and England in their beloved sport of croquet. Initially the team was comprised of vets who wanted to return to the United Kingdom to visit the graves of their mates they had left behind or in some cases to marry the girls they had left behind.”

Mac died aged 85 on 20th August 1945. Later the MacRobertson Company was taken over by Cadburys and it still makes chocolates and sweets in Australia.

MacRobertson Shield Events (1925 – 2006)

After that first 1925 event, the event was held irregularly over the next few years and New Zealand played for the first time in 1930. In some years the competition was England against Australia, some years it was Australia against New Zealand and some years it was England against New Zealand. From 1963 it became a more regular event between the top 3 countries of Australia, New Zealand and England (later replaced by Great Britain).

Table of Results

Year Venue Champion Second Third Fourth
1925 England England Australia
1927-28 Australia Australia England
1930 Australia Australia New Zealand
1935 Australia Australia England New Zealand
1937 England England Australia
1950-51 New Zealand New Zealand England
1956 England England New Zealand
1963 New Zealand England Australia New Zealand
1969 Australia England New Zealand Australia
1974 England Great Britain New Zealand Australia
1979 New Zealand New Zealand Great Britain Australia
1982 Australia Great Britain Australia New Zealand
1986 England New Zealand Great Britain Australia
1990 New Zealand Great Britain New Zealand Australia
1993 Australia Great Britain New Zealand Australia USA
1996 England Great Britain New Zealand Australia USA
2000 New Zealand Great Britain New Zealand USA Australia
2003 USA Great Britain Australia USA New Zealand
2006 Australia Great Britain Australia USA New Zealand