The country bids farewell to a legend
This week the nation marked the passing of the great Sir Colin Meads.
Meads was the most famous of amateur era All Blacks, an icon who remained a highly popular figure here and abroad decades after his outstanding playing career ended.
In 133 matches for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971, the tough-as-teak King Country lock played 55 tests and became recognised throughout the world as the face of New Zealand rugby.
He was a colossus of a bygone era, well before the advent of professionalism led to a huge increase in the number of tests played each year.
At 1.92m and 102kg, he was small by today’s standards but always gave the impression of being a giant and complemented his natural athleticism with a rare ferocity.
Meads played hard and expected his opposition to do the same. He enjoyed his duels with rugged men such as Willie John McBride of Ireland, Benoit Dauga, of France, and Springbok Frik du Preez.
Meads received just about every honour the game bestowed, including membership of the International Hall of Fame and the New Zealand Sporting Hall of Fame.
There was no debate in late 1999 when New Zealand Rugby Monthly magazine named him the New Zealand player of the century and in the 2001 New Year’s Honours list he was made a New Zealand Companion of Merit.
In August 2016, it was announced that the rugby great had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Sir Colin’s last major public appearance was in Te Kuiti in June, when a statue of the 81-yearold was unveiled on his hometown, a great occasion for one of the great rugby players.
‘‘It’s like everything in life, if you try to be yourself and don’t try to be somebody else, it all comes right. I’ve enjoyed it.’’
– Sir Colin Meads, 03 June 1936 - 20 August 2017
All Blacks legend Sir Colin Meads died after battling cancer, aged 81. Photo circa 1970.