After he debuted in 1995, Glen Osborne featured at fullback for the World Cup but spent most of the rest of his career until 1999 on the wing. He played 19 tests and ran in 11 test tries. He played for the Chiefs and Hurricanes in Super Rugby and represented Wanganui and North Harbour. He also featured in the New Zealand Sevens team and played a season and a half in France with Biarritz club and four seasons in Japan with Ricoh.
After leaving the All Blacks I played in France, for North Harbour then four years in Japan, which was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. It was beautiful. The people are kind and respectful, they have the most beautiful wairua and are such genuine people. You deal with Japanese people here, but they are completely different in their own environment.
I was playing for Ricoh, based just out of Setagaya in Tokyo, and we had Eroni Clarke, Paul Feeney was our coach, and there was Brandon Jackson, Norm Maxwell and a few Aussies. I’ve still got the club record for points in a year.
My wife Kylee and I put the girls straight into Japanese school because by the time we got there my eldest, Arianna, was at primary school, my youngest Mako was three and they picked up the language in a few months. They became fluent very quickly and could tell jokes in Japanese; that’s how good they were.
I picked up Japanese better than French because the pronunciation is similar to Maori, and because I loved it I made more effort to learn it, going to night school for lessons.
In 2004 I told the club I would give them one more year because my body was too tired. They said okay, okay.
I just wanted to retire and they offered me another contract to stay. I was sore and didn’t have the heart to do it any more. They offered me more money, but I wanted to go home. They didn’t understand, so I told them to send some guys over to see me in New Zealand then they’d understand why I wanted to be back here.
When we finally left, they all came out to the airport with their children and were all crying and singing; it was very emotional.
I flew in on a Wednesday and on Thursday I was working at Maori TV on
Code. A good friend of mine, Bailey Mackey, helped me out a lot and it was hard work being a presenter and doing that front work but Jenny-May Clarkson, who worked with me, is my best mate in television. She was fantastic. Whenever I got in strife she’d say, ‘Don’t worry, Oz, no one’s going to die,’ and she was my rock during my TV career. I did Code for a couple of years, then The 3rd Half with Willie Lose and Buck Shelford before I had my own show, Bring Your Boots, Oz, and I took over Hunting Aotearoa in my last year.
In 2011 I fronted the Rugby World Cup for the hour before a game and with a panel afterwards, and then I spent the best part of a decade at Maori TV when we were living at Omaha, north of Auckland.
At the same time, I bought a butchery in Matakana and that was trying to kill two birds with one stone. I had my hunting goals and knew if I bought the butchery I would have all the dog tucker I needed and with all the pigs I caught, I could do my own salami and pork at home, plus get experience in another side of the business.
I will say having the butchery was really, really hard simply because I was not a qualified butcher. While I knew how to cut up most meat, that wasn’t being a butcher. One of my best mates up there, Matthew Oldfield, was my home-kill man, so he worked for me and showed me how to do it.
We had a home-kill business and that meat had to be labelled and kept separate from the shop stuff, which was meat we had to buy in. Our market was all local and we were really busy around the Rodney district.
Eventually, I was working three days a week at Maori TV and I said I couldn’t work every day. It was long hours working out how to make a business run, and I came to the conclusion that I wanted to go home.
I got really homesick. It’s hard to explain. I’ve always wanted to go home, but at the end of 2012 it got to a point where I wasn’t happy. I looked at the bigger picture and one day I said to my wife, ‘Babe, I just want to go home. I don’t want to be in this lifestyle any more. I don’t like it.’
We sold the house, sold the business, everything.
My wife is from Taranaki and suggested we go there, but I said she’d chosen to go to France first then Japan and this was my call. I said if I moved I was going home to Whanganui.
A few weekends later we went home for a trip and looked at some places to buy. We saw about five or six, but there was one we fell in love with straight away and I told the real estate agent that we would make an offer.
My older brother Charles, who is a builder and played for Wanganui, started work on the new 300-square-metre house and I helped him between shows. Kylee liked the house and it took a bit more persuasion to get her to believe it was all going to turn out well. It’s on the edge of town in Westmere, so it’s not far to get to work or to other places around the district.
I was born in Ngamatapouri about an hour inland, as you go towards Waverley and Waitotora and then turn inland and go way up there. All my life I was out in the sticks and loved it.
It’s the freedom, never having neighbours and being happy in my own company. I met Kylee when I came to play in Auckland and met her at the rugby club
THE CORE VALUES OF THE POLICE ARE VERY SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU NEED IN RUGBY. THERE IS A STRONG CORRELATION OF PROFESSIONALISM, TEAMWORK, EMPATHY, RESPECT AND TIME MANAGEMENT.’
when she was up on work experience from Taranaki. She was at TVNZ working on
Mai Time as one of the first presenters before working as a reporter.
Once the house was ready, we moved down. My eldest daughter Arianna had finished at Mahurangi College and went to Toi Whakaari in Wellington to learn directing and acting, and we sent our younger daughter Mako to Wanganui Collegiate, which is a wonderful school. She’s now studying business and commerce in Wellington; she’s got her mother’s abilities and Kylee pushed the girls.
Moving gave me another chance to have a go at getting into the police force. I wanted to try when I was 23, but we were playing professional rugby then and weren’t allowed to work anywhere else.
I was thinking I was too old and had maybe missed my chance at doing something I’d always wanted to do. The core values of the police are very similar to what you need in rugby. There is a strong correlation of professionalism, teamwork, empathy, respect and time management. I came from an All Blacks side that had those highest standards in the world then went into TV where, again, you have to have high standards otherwise you just don’t last.
Transferring those disciplines made sense and all my life I was taught about hard work by my dad. I was a cheeky kid, but I was disciplined, and I worked hard for my dad, milking and shearing, so that work ethic was there for me.
All my life I have wanted to be a role model so my nieces and nephews can see there is more to life. I wanted to stand out and I knew that being a police officer you had that chance, not because of the blue uniform but as someone who upholds values and is professional. It’s a wonderful career, and the values are as high as I believe All Blacks’ values are.
There was no age limit and when I went in I was the oldest by far in my group, but I easily passed the fitness testing. Then I applied for interviews about 2015 and the fitness trials were the easiest thing of the lot for me. Next step was the hardest — the psychometric tests with abstract, numerical and written exams. I hadn’t studied for 30 years and you have to pass that before you can go to police college. I spent months studying hard because I knew if you didn’t pass you had to wait six months or more for another shot.
I wanted to get it right the first time. Three weeks after the exam I was driving my car and got a phone call saying I had passed and I was so excited, I swore; ‘ You’re f***ing kidding me!’ and the lady said, ‘No, Mr Osborne.’ I had passed but needed to upskill some papers because getting into Porirua Police College was apparently much harder.
I waited six months to go there and then it was four months of intense study. The physical stuff was easy, but the mental strain and tension were tough.
I tried to do my training at police college without any fanfare, but as soon as they found out at Maori TV that I was there they wanted to do a documentary. I saw the police inspector and he said I didn’t need any distractions — and he was so right. I didn’t want to fail, so the pressure was on.
The stress was so great I spoke to my sergeant about struggling through my first mock exams when I got about 30 per cent and you needed about 70 per cent to pass. He said, ‘Look, you’ve made the All Blacks, you been on TV and have worked hard. So this is what I want you to do...’
I had about 100 cue cards and he said that’s too much information; bullet points are the go. I cut them down to about 25 points and that made a massive difference. I got about 74 per cent, I think, then 82 per cent in my tests, but all the way through there were exams to push us.
EASY RIDER Glen Osborne was deceptively quick and di cult to put down.
TV TIME Osborne moved into TV after he stopped playing before deciding to join the Police.
LOVE OF THE GAME Osborne just loved playing rugby.