It’s fair to say New Zealand has produced some great rugby talent over the years and without a doubt will continue to do so for many years to come! It’s hard to decipher the best of the best so let’s honour those who have made New Zealand rugby history by remembering 5 of New Zealand rugby greats.
The man who introduced rugby union to New Zealand after his return from England, in which he studied to pursue a career in the military. The young man from Nelson introduced the sport to his home town, teaching the rules to the Nelson Football Club. This created a rugby mania to spread not just in Nelson but around other provinces in the country.
The captain of the 1905-1906 “Originals” team. Irish-born then migrated to New Zealand as a small child, Gallaher’s Rugby career helped cement Rugby as the national sport we hold close to our hearts today. Before the All Blacks, the Originals represented New Zealand in international rugby. Under Gallaher’s leadership, he led the Originals to win 34 out of 35 matches in the British Isles, France and North America tour. Killed in 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele, Belgium. Gallaher has since been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, the International Rugby Hall of Fame, and the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. There are also a number of memorials existing in Gallaher’s name of honour, including the Gallaher Shield – Auckland’s Club Championship, as well as the Dave Gallaher Trophy – contended for by the New Zealand and France national Teams.
Also known as “Buck” his time in test rugby wasn’t too long, although in his time he captained the mighty All Blacks from his captaincy in 1987-1990, The All Blacks did not lose a game, only drawing once against Australia in 1988. When Shelford was replaced as captain in 1990 the immediate public reaction was outrage. This is when the original phrase “bring back Buck” was born. Not only was Shelford a legendary captain and player of the All Black but he too can be credited with making the famous ‘Ka Mate’ Haka as great as it is today. Although the team had been performing the tradition well before his appearance he taught the team how to perform the Haka properly as an aggressive and memorable pre-match tradition.
Sir Colin Earl Meads:
Sir Colin Earl Meads is regarded as being one of the most if not the most iconic rugby player of his time. He made his provincial debut in 1955, playing 139 for King Country, and joined the All Blacks during their tour of Australia in 1957. Meads was deemed the most famous rugby forward of the 1960s by the International Rugby Hall of Fame and was made the local equivalent of a knighthood by being honoured a Companion of Merit in 2001. After Meads 1957-1971 career with All Blacks, he was named New Zealand’s Player of the Century in 1999.
Richie McCaw no doubt is one of the most successful players to come from the All Blacks. Some compare him to Colin Meads. McCaw was the first All Black to reach 100 caps, and the first rugby union player to win 100 tests. With 148 caps McCaw is the most capped player in Rugby Union history. In addition to captaining the All Blacks to winning two world cup finals, the All Blacks won seven Tri-Nations titles, completed three successful grand slam tours and won the Bledisloe Cup eight times. It is fair to say that throughout his career McCaw has achieved and seen the New Zealand International team through many victories and achievements for New Zealand Rugby.