Andy Haden’s influence embraced two distinctly different areas of rugby, yet they were of similar importance.
Firstly, he recognised the value of intense study of the lineout. When he first reached international level, scrummaging was an area that was being advanced as vital as New Zealand, especially, attempted to catch up on the emphasis that had been applied to the scrum by Home Nations. This was demonstrated in the 1971 series won by the British & Irish Lions.
But Haden saw the value in applying the same level of thought process to the lineout with the result that he became one of the foremost thinkers on that aspect of the game as well as one of the leading lights in lineout play. Many a hooker learnt the need for accurate throwing to the lineouts at Haden’s behest.
He wasn’t beyond upsetting the apple cart either with a ‘tactical’ ploy à la the falling from the lineout move at Cardiff Arms Park in 1978, a choice still pilloried in Wales.
But of far more consequence it was his strategy that was behind the famed ‘teabag’ lineout move that produced the try to Tony Woodcock in the final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
In his playing career he first toured with Ian Kirkpatrick’s side to Britain, Ireland and France in 1972-73 before playing in Europe and returning to New Zealand in 1976 to win a place in Graham Mourie’s team to Argentina.
Full test selection followed in 1977 and he became a regular in the side thereafter.
Something of an enfant terrible for the game’s administrators, his off-thefield work in players’ rights was an area of supreme influence, even winning the title of Minister of Lurks and Perks from English administrator Micky Steele-Bodger.
But at a time when administrators were placing greater demands on amateur players in terms of time commitment while starting to recoup significant income from the sale of television rights, Haden was at the forefront of securing a better deal for players.
He became a consultant to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union involved in helping to promote the game.
His efforts were a significant step towards the staging of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 while also securing better rights for players through acceptable sponsorship packages for teams and, in time, easing access towards players controlling their own commercial benefits.
These were all aspects of the game well out of the ambit of most amateur administrators at the time.
When professionalism inevitably occurred, New Zealand could claim to have been awakened to the needs of the changed environment as a result of some of the stands that Haden had taken in the years before.
That he was party to the organisation of the rebel Cavaliers tour to South Africa in 1986 added to the influence he wielded at the time, albeit outside the official administration of the game.
In more recent times he has maintained a continuing association with the game as a key player in the development, playing and commercial, of the Classic All Blacks brand.
NEW REGIME Andy Haden was always willing to stand up for his rights.