The life of Bryan
MOST weekends All Blacks great Bryan Williams steps out of his Westmere home on to the rugby fields of Cox’s Bay reserve and puts the flags out for the juniors from the Ponsonby Rugby Club who play at the ground.
Mr Williams has played, coached and administered at the highest level of the game but has stayed in touch with the grassroots of the sport he began playing in 1960.
For his services to the game the Ponsonby stalwart was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday honours.
It adds to an MBE received in 1983, also for his services to rugby, and the Samoan Order of Merit from 1996.
‘‘It was totally out of the blue,’’ he says of his latest honour.
‘‘I feel pretty humble about it. I certainly don’t do what I do to receive awards but when it happens obviously it’s very nice.’’
He says it seems strange to be honoured in such a way for essentially doing something he loves.
‘‘Really it’s recognition of a long time in rugby. But it’s been a labour of love, it hasn’t been a burden or chore so when you get awards for doing something you really love and enjoy, well I feel like I’ve already had the reward.
‘‘I truly feel doubly blessed, receiving an award for doing what is your passion is like a double whammy.’’
Rugby has been good to Mr Williams but in turn he has helped many others through his dedication to the Ponsonby club and the game and hopes he has paved the way for others to follow.
‘‘I like to think so, I guess I was one of the first Polynesian players of the modern era to make the All Blacks.
‘‘I was involved with the team a long time so I like to think I forged a pathway.’’
He also hopes becoming a lawyer inspired others.
It has been a rugby life with many highlights – selected as a teenager, travelling to South Africa in 1970, 113 matches for the All Blacks – but Mr Williams says when he looks back it’s not so much the playing that provides the standout moments.
‘‘It’s such a great involvement sport, lots of people get involved, communities, and there is lots of voluntary effort especially in amateur rugby.
‘‘There are lots of values and standards you learn along the way, great disciplines that prepare you for life outside rugby.
‘‘Obviously becoming an All Black was an absolute highlight.
it’s every young New Zealander’s dream to play for the All Blacks. But when I look back on my career I don’t remember the games so much but the shared experiences and the friends.’’
A high point was also helping unleash the full powers of Manu Samoa on to the global rugby stage.
Mr Williams spent a decade coaching the team.
‘‘A special highlight was when I got involved with Manu Samoa and went to three world cups.
‘‘Dad passed away in 1990 so he never saw my involvement there and he would’ve been really proud about that – that we managed to burst on to the world scene and beat Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1991 and 1999.’’
Beegee: Bryan Williams at his Westmere home. ‘‘I truly feel doubly blessed by the award, receiving an award for doing what is your passion is like a double whammy.’’ Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see a tribute to All Blacks rugby wing Bryan ‘‘Beegee’’ Williams.