James Gordon Kinvig (known as “JG”, “Kinny” or simply “Gordon”) was the epitome of the amateur sportsman in the early 1900s. A fine rugby player, he played for Oriental Rugby Club and represented Wellington on numerous occasions as a five eighth or utility back. Kinvig was also a very good cricketer whose name featured extensively in school and club match reports. His dual skills gave him the unique honour of being selected to make his Wellington representative debuts in both rugby and cricket during the same year.
In spite of this talent, Kinvig only represented Wellington twice at cricket. His first appearance was in February 1910 at the Basin Reserve against the touring Australian team. He took a creditable 3-36 in the first innings and 0-30 in the second in a match that the Australians won by six wickets. His second appearance, against Hawkes Bay at Napier in March 1910, was less assured. He only bowled one over, still managing to grab one wicket. However his batting was rather wobbly – a duck in the first and 15 in the second innings of a drawn game. There’s more to this man than these bare statistics however.
Educated at Christchurch Boys High School, his cricketing performances there led to him being labelled “one of the best all rounders” at the school. After his schooling, he eventually moved to Wellington (his father appears to have owned factories in the city) and began to establish himself as a powerful presence on the local sports’ scene. He played for a number of cricket clubs (Wellington East, Central, Rivals, Trentham Army Camp), as well as in a variety of one-off games for all sorts of teams.
Although he was described as an all-rounder, his left arm, medium pace bowling often stands out in the match reports. Playing for Rivals against Union in April 1913 he had match figures of 8 for 67. In January 1915 he took 4 for 19 playing for Trentham against Petone and so on and so on. He appeared to be playing everywhere and whenever he played his bowling or batting gains a mention. He seems to have been no mean fielder as well. We don’t know why he never again made the cut for Wellington but his performance at club level is noteworthy and, at times, decidedly impressive.
His service in the Army was as striking as his sporting career. He enlisted in the Wellington Regiment in September 1915 and embarked, initially, for Suez, on the 1st May 1916. Kinvig had been a sergeant in the Territorials but, after service in France and officer training in England, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Wellington Second Battalion. He served some time in the trenches but early in the morning of July 31st, 1917 was killed in the attack on La Basse Ville. James Gordon Kinvig is buried in Mud Cemetery, on the northern edge of Ploegsteert Wood, alongside 84 others.
James Gordon Kinvig; b. June 19th 1888, Christchurch, d. July 31st 1917 La Basse Ville, France