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New Zealand Rugby pays tribute to Andy Haden

Andy Haden receives his Test cap from then NZR President John Sturgeon at a capping ceremony in 2009. Credit: Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has paid tribute to towering All Blacks lock Andy Haden, who has passed away at the age of 69.

Haden, who played 117 games including 41 Tests for the All Blacks between 1972 and 1985, died today surrounded by his family, after a battle with cancer.

NZR President Bill Osborne, an All Blacks teammate of Haden’s said: “Andy’s stature and influence as a player was huge. Not only was he an immense physical presence, there was also immense respect from his teammates.

“Most people will remember the way he dominated the lineout as a tower of strength, but I also remember the way he looked after the young players coming into the All Blacks, and how he advocated for players’ rights both during and after his playing career.

“Our thoughts are with his wife Trecha and his family.”

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson added: “Andy was one of the most recognizable figures in New Zealand Rugby both on and off the field. His contribution as a player for Ponsonby, Auckland and the All Blacks was massive over a long period of time and he will be remembered by those who saw him play as one of the true greats of our game.”

Haden first made the All Blacks in 1972, making his debut against New York Metropolitan in New York as a 21 year old. It would take five years before he made his Test debut against the British & Irish Lions in Wellington and he was a near automatic selection for the good part of eight years including captaining the All Blacks on eight occasions.

Andrew Maxwell Haden (26 September 1950 – 29 July 2020)

Life and career

Born in Wanganui and educated at Wanganui Boys’ College, Haden made his All Black debut in 1972, and his Test debut against the British Lions in 1977, going on to make 41 Test appearances and scoring two tries. He played club rugby for Auckland, Harlequins in London and Algida Rome in Italy. One of Haden’s All Black jerseys sits on display at his former high school, now known as Whanganui City College.

Haden was a controversial player, who was accused of cheating and unsporting conduct by opposing players. The most infamous occurrence of this happened in a match against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1978. The score was 12–10 in Wales’s favour, when Haden and another New Zealand player, Frank Oliver, suddenly fell to the ground as if pushed. The referee awarded a penalty in the dying moments of the match, which Brian McKechnie kicked, winning the game for New Zealand. Later, Welsh legend JPR Williams wrote that Haden should have been sent off. Despite the controversy however, the referee subsequently stated that the penalty had actually been awarded for an actual infringement against Oliver and not the Haden ‘dive’ as was thought. Haden doesn’t however deny that the attempts to cheat the referee were pre-planned, something also confirmed by his captain Graham Mourie. The match happened on the same day as the annual ‘Miss World’ competition, which prompted Welsh cartoonist Grens to create a picture of the ‘Miss World’ event, but with Miss New Zealand lying on the floor, pretending to have been pushed. Haden made his last Test appearance in 1985 against Argentina.

Haden was an agent for various celebrities. In 2010 he was given the honorary position of Rugby World Cup Ambassador, but resigned the post after making controversial statements about a racial quota he alleged the Canterbury Crusaders to be operating, calling Polynesians “darkies”, and then suggesting women raped by sports stars may be partly to blame.

In 2003, Haden announced that he was beginning chemotherapy for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.


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