To mark the 30-year anniversary of New Zealand winning the 1987 inaugural Rugby World Cup, Beyond the Mark will share memories from some of the All Black players’ and administrators’ involved in the successful campaign.
Tell us a little about what you’re up to these days?
These days I’m pretty much doing what I was 30 odd years ago, still PE teaching at Burnside High School. Two of my three children have left Christchurch – my son Tom is in France playing rugby (with Benson at Pau), my daughter Steph is living in Auckland with her partner and their 10-month old daughter (our first grandchild!) and my daughter Maddy is working in Christchurch. My wife Tracy also works at Burnside High School in the Sports Office. Other than that, a bit of golf, surfing, and for the past 27 years doing the radio commentaries for home games of the Crusaders and Canterbury teams.
Fondest memories of the 1987 World Cup campaign?
Being able to travel our own country as an All Black, and having all the support from home. We had the privilege of being billeted on farms in the Wairarapa and had some funny moments watching some of the team try their hand at farming! Obviously winning the inaugural World Cup, but being with a group of really great guys and management which gelled us as a team.
Best and worst roomie in ’87 and why?
I can’t remember but Michael Jones was always nice to room with, and JK (John Kirwan) was great when we were billeted together in the Wairarapa. The worst was rooming with a big forward, as I never got a chance to have the double bed!
Why do you think the ’87 team was so successful?
In a non-professional era, we were a very professional group of guys and were probably the fittest, most well-balanced team. We also got on well together.
What was your motivation to play?
My motivation to play in the ’87 Rugby World Cup was to play for those All Blacks who had been before us, and show through us that they also would have been World Champions. Every time we played we always had an advantage over other teams because of the legacy they left behind. Another motivation was to play for family and friends.
Best and worst advice you’ve received?
There was no worst advice, I always listened to what people had to say, and took the best out of it. The best advice was from my father, who reminded me to “watch the hips when tackling, as they dictate where the body will go”.
What advice would you give to the modern day rugby player?
To enjoy the time that you have as a player, and make the most of the friendships that develop, both with team-mates and your opposition, as they will become friends for life.
What’s your biggest dislike in today’s rugby environment?
People can be too critical of the players – they are trying to do their best. Players in NZ don’t have time to get away from the game and are always under scrutiny.
What is your proudest achievement outside of rugby?
My family. Becoming a grandparent last December, and again this December (in France) is very special for Tracy and I.
Photo credit: stuff.co.nz (Warwick with son Tom).