The Dominion Post
An extraordinary bloke
Whether being mistaken for the ‘‘other’’ rugby great or being asked to intervene to save a struggling school, Sir Brian Lochore possessed a remarkable generosity of spirit.
The All Black captain, World Cup-winning coach and long-time selector, who died of bowel cancer on Saturday, was much more than that to those who knew him well.
Despite his lofty international regard and legendary status, his loyalty and connection to his roots kept his feet firmly on the ground.
Wairarapa born-andbred, Sir Brian would always take time to talk to a fan, inspire schoolchildren, or their principals, and he would use his mana and values to steady a shaky organisation.
Graeme ‘‘Bunter’’ Anderson grew up on a farm next door to the Lochores and as a youngster recalled his idol often heading overseas for test matches.
‘‘He was like an absolute god to me, of course.’’
Anderson was in the Wairarapa-Bush team in 1981-82 that was lifted by coach Lochore from the depths of second division to competing with the best of first division.
‘‘He didn’t come up with any magic formulas. He played the game very simply but did it very well. He had such mana, you just played for him. He was just one of those special sort of guys.’’
Anderson said Sir Brian had no airs or graces, in fact, he preferred the salt-of
the-earth types. ‘‘He really liked the ordinary blokes. We were just a bunch of farm boys and shearers.
‘‘He just loved the country boys and down-to-earth guys, because it was just who he was.’’
Bob Francis, a former Masterton mayor and international rugby referee, went to Wairarapa College with the lanky farmer’s son who stood out as an all-round sportsman.
Despite the acclaim and the high-powered positions Lochore attained in the rugby world, ‘‘he never got ahead of himself’’, Francis said. ‘‘In those days, you could be playing a test match on the other side of the world, and a week later, he’d be back home playing club rugby.’’
After his playing days, Sir Brian’s generosity was wellknown. Whenever a local school or community group was in need, he would give them a piece of memorabilia or signed All Blacks kit to put up for charity auctions.
His ongoing involvement with education included a stint as chair of the Wairarapa College board of trustees and he was brought in by the Ministry of Education to chair a commission to turn around the struggling Kuranui College in Greytown in the 1990s.
Sir Brian also loved golf, and along with a local professional golfer, started the Wairarapa Pro Am tournament.
Golfing buddy Rob Cameron and his wife, Cath, said Sir Brian’s humility and strong sense of values were hallmarks of his character. As a school principal, Cameron remembers Sir Brian speaking to the principals’ association and reminding them their jobs were all about human values and serving the students.
Sir Brian was the patron of Catwalk Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust. Trust founder Catriona Williams, a tetraplegic, said he was also the one there when she had to pick up the pieces.