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.
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.
Thomas Rangiwahia Ellison, also known as Tom or Tamati Erihana, was captain of New Zealand's first official rugby team when it toured Australia in 1893. This was not his first taste of international rugby. He was a member of the New Zealand Natives football team, a professional side, which toured Great Britain and Australia in 1888-9. The Natives' tour was a test of endurance. They played 107 matches in 54 weeks, 16 of which were spent travelling.
Dave Gallaher was captain of the 1905 ‘Originals’ rugby team, the first to be known as the All Blacks. The Irish-born Gallaher played only six tests for New Zealand yet is regarded as an All Black legend. His death while fighting overseas during the First World War ensured that he acquired a mystique that transcended sport.
In a country where rugby is often referred to as a religion, hosting and winning the first Rugby World Cup was a big deal. The story of how the tournament came about mixes the worlds of sport, politics and money.