The life of Bryan

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE DAW­SON

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.

‘‘I guess

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.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

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.

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