Ernest Asher began playing rugby in Tauranga, going on to become a representative. In 1908, he joined his brother Albert in forming a team of Māori players to tour Australia. Upon their arrival in Sydney, the New South Wales Rugby Football League encouraged them to switch codes on the spot.
Albert Asher was an international in rugby union and rugby league, as well as working for years as a fireman.
Having been a rugby player in Tauranga in his teenage years, Albert Asher was engaged by the Parnell Rugby Club to live and play with them. He soon began playing for Auckland, and was a member of the first Auckland team to win the Ranfurly Shield in 1902.
Geoffrey Alley was an All Black lock anda farmer, and then became involved in adult education and library services. He became New Zealand’s first national librarian.
Geoffrey Alley left school in 1921, to manage a Southland farm. During this time his aptitude for rugby flourished, and in 1926 he was selected for the All Black tour of Australia, and then again for the 1928 tour of South Africa. It was in the scrum that his imposing physical strength proved valuable.
Following police warnings of civil strife, Prime Minister Norman Kirk informed the New Zealand Rugby Football Union that the government saw ‘no alternative’ to a postponement of the planned tour by the South African Springboks.
The great New Zealand rugby writer T.P. McLean declared ‘unhesitatingly’ that Wilson (‘Noddy’) Whineray was New Zealand’s ‘greatest captain’. Colin Meads agreed that as a captain Whineray ‘inspired fierce loyalty’. He captained the All Blacks 68 times in his 77 appearances between 1957 and 1965. The All Blacks lost only four of the 30 tests in which he was captain. Awarded an OBE in 1962 and a knighthood in 1998 for services to sport and business, Whineray was also NZ Sportsman of the Year in 1965.
Described as an ‘immaculate player’, Fred Allen went on to become the most successful All Black coach ever: during his tenure, between 1966 and 1968, the team won all 14 tests. His renowned skill for motivating his players earned him the nickname ‘The Needle’. Allen’s contribution to New Zealand rugby was recognised with a knighthood in 2010. He is unique in having been inducted twice into the New Zealand Sporting Hall of Fame – for his coaching achievements and as a member of the army team.
Wairarapa born and bred, Brian James (BJ) Lochore won distinction as a player and administrator at school, club, provincial and national level.
In 1959, not yet 20, he made his provincial debut against the touring British Lions. All Black honours followed in 1963. In an illustrious career in the black jersey he played a total of 68 matches. He was captain in 18 of the 25 test matches he played for his country. An outstanding no. 8 or lock, he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1999 and knighted the same year.
George Nēpia is considered to be one of New Zealand rugby’s finest players. He played all 32 matches for the famous 1924–25 ‘Invincibles’ on their tour of the British Isles, France and Canada. Yet over the next five years Nēpia appeared in only five test matches, playing his final match in the black jersey aged just 25. In all Nēpia played 46 matches for the All Blacks, scoring a total of 99 points.