An historic rugby shirt worth tens of thousands of pounds is being sold by Falmouth Rugby Club.

The 114-year-old All Blacks top was swapped for Falmouth's Edward 'John' Jackett's England jersey in the first-ever test match between the two teams in 1905 (which New Zealand won 15-0).

The shirt spent years in the care of the Jackett family before being presented to Falmouth Rugby Club in the 1970s.

It survived the Falmouth Rugby Clubhouse blaze of 1978 which started when a homeless man reportedly set fire to some pamphlets to keep warm.

The club then lent it out to the Royal Cornwall Museum where it was the centrepiece of the exhibition on Cornish rugby.

Hugh Murton, who was secretary between 1999 and 2004 and has been involved in the club since the sixties, said that the true value of Jackett's shirt was not fully realised until the museum carried out an evaluation for insurance purposes.

He said: "I told them what it was, and they said it was probably very valuable. A similar one had been auctioned recently for a lot of money.

"We were very concerned about having it back because literally what were we going to do with it? Could we ensure it's safety?"

Hugh went on to say: "It came as quite a surprise that it was worth a lot of money. At the same time we were very afraid we couldn't keep it safe.

"I would have been nervous to keep it in the clubhouse."

In October, Falmouth Rugby Club chairman James Instance told the Packet that the club was in a "precarious situation" financially after a setback over a planning application.

He was unavailable to comment on the sale of the shirt yesterday.

The shirt is being sold by auctioneers Graham Budd, who predict that it could go under the hammer for a final price of £30,000.

John Jackett, the Falmouth man who played in the 1905 test match, was born in 1878 and played a total of 13 matches for England.

He also played in the 1908 Olympic Games and won a silver medal.

Before finding international success as a professional sportsman, Jackett faced legal difficulties in his home town.

He appeared at Falmouth County Court in February 1901 for failing to pay damages for a breach of a marriage promise to a Caroline Amelia Olver of Portscathoe.

A report in the Cornubian and Redruth Times from February 15 1901 describes how the 22-year-old appeared in front of a "Judge Granger" to explain that he did not have the means to pay the £150 in damages and £39 in costs.

He said that he was an amateur playing for Falmouth Football Club at the time, and that his only payment for playing was "expenses".

The plaintiff's mother claimed that Jackett used to come to her house courting her daughter and told the mother that he earned seven shillings a day sitting as a model for the artist Henry Tuke

She also claimed that he said he was paid 25 shillings a week by St Austell Football Club.

In a cross-examination, Jackett said that this was "quite false" and that he did not have the means to pay as he was only earning three shillings per week as an artist's model for Tuke.

He added that for the five months of the year that Tuke lived in London, Jackett did not work and instead lived "on his father" who was a boatbuilder.