Sir Wilson Whineray: The All Blacks' longest-serving captain

Briefly

Sir Wilson Whineray, who died of cancer in Auckland on 22 October at the age of 77, was acclaimed by many as the All Blacks' greatest captain. He played 77 matches for New Zealand, including 32 Tests, and captained the side 67 times.

A tough, loose-head prop forward, he made his All Blacks Test debut in May 1957, against Australia in Sydney, and was quickly elevated to the captaincy for the 1958 series against Australia. He was only 23 and for a long time he was the youngest All Blacks captain until he was overtaken by Sean Fitzpatrick and Richie McCaw.

Whineray's career encompassed those of other great players such as Colin Meads, Brian Lochore and Kel Tremain, and the team he led in the early- to mid-1960s is still regarded as the best All Blacks line-up of all time. Whineray modestly declared, though, "A baboon could have captained that team – we were just so much superior to other sides."

Some thought Whineray to be a better leader than he was scrummager, but Colin Meads defended him, observing that it was "hard to recall a time when our scrum suffered because of any weakness." On the 1964-64 tour of the northern hemisphere, the All Blacks perfected a move known as "Willie Away", in which Whineray would peel away from the line-out to receive the ball in a half-back position in order to set up attacks in midfield.

It was at the end of that tour that Whineray scored the try for which he is best remembered. It was against the Barbarians at Cardiff Arms Park on 15 February 1964, and the tourists were rampant with their attacking style of rugby. They scored 20 points in the last 25 minutes, and Whineray went over for the final try, taking a pass from the centre, Paul Little, missing out Meads before selling the Barbarians full-back what was at that time a most unproplike dummy and touching down beneath the posts.

Wilson James Whineray was born on 10 July 1935 in Auckland into a sports-loving family. His elder brother Bruce went on to captain his country at hockey. Wilson went to Auckland Grammar School, like many of his fellow All Blacks down the years, and made his Test debut when he was 21.

Whineray also had a lengthy first class career, representing the Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury provinces. He retired in 1966, gained a business degree from Harvard and went on to a stellar business career, chairing the boards of some of New Zealand's largest companies. He was a patron of the New Zealand rugby union and a head of its rugby foundation, which promotes the development of the sport.

His popularity was such that he was tipped during the 1990s as a possible future Governor General, the representative of the Queen in New Zealand. He was knighted in 1994 for his services to sport and commerce.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key paid tribute to Whineray: "Sir Wilson was a great All Black and may have been the greatest captain we ever had. This is a loss all of New Zealand will feel."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there