Wellington to honour former All Blacks     18 Jun 2009    

In all, 32 former All Blacks or their families will receive the caps they earned for their first All Blacks Test appearance at the function which will be held at Te Papa. Many of those players will be acknowledged again at Saturday’s Iveco Series Test match between the All Blacks and France, forming a guard of honour to welcome the teams to the field.

The tradition of capping lapsed after the Second World War and was not re-introduced until 1997. As announced in December 2008, the New Zealand Rugby Union will is now presenting more than 400 former players with their first Test cap during 2009 and 2010.

On Friday, no less than eight All Blacks captains or their descendants will receive Test caps of whom five captained the All Blacks in a Test match.

The following All Blacks or their family representatives will receive caps in Wellington:

Player & Province^ Debut All Blacks vs. Venue
Jack Finlay* (M’watu) 14 Sept 1946 Australia Dunedin
Roy White* (Wgtn) 14 Sept 1946 Australia Dunedin
Bob Stuart* (Cant) 3 Sept 1949 Australia Wellington
Norman Wilson* (Otago) 23 June 1951 Australia Sydney
Ron Jarden* (Wgtn) 23 June 1951 Australia Sydney
Brian Finlay* (M’watu) 18 July 1959 British & Irish Lions Dunedin
Kel Tremain* (Cant) 15 Aug 1959 British & Irish Lions Wellington
Mick Williment* (Wgtn) 15 Aug 1964 Australia Dunedin
Larry Savage (Cant) 16 July 1949 South Africa Cape Town
Player & Province^ Debut All Blacks vs. Venue
Selwyn Bremner (Akld) 13 Sept 1952 Australia Wellington
Don McIntosh (Wgtn) 14 July 1956 South Africa Dunedin
Neven MacEwan (Wgtn) 4 Aug 1956 South Africa Wellington
Russell Watt (Wgtn) 6 Sept 1958 Australia Christchurch
Ian Uttley (Wgtn) 25 May 1963 England Auckland
Chris Laidlaw (Otago) 8 Feb 1964 France Paris
Earle Kirton (Otago) 4 Nov 1967 England London
Sam Strahan (M’watu) 19 Aug 1967 Australia Wellington
Blair Furlong (H Bay) 12 Sept 1970 South Africa Johannesburg
Mick Duncan (H Bay) 31 July 1971 British & Irish Lions Wellington
John Callesen (M’watu) 25 May 1974 Australia Sydney
Andy Leslie (Wgtn) 25 May 1974 Australia Sydney
Bill Osborne (Wanganui) 14 June 1975 Scotland Auckland
John Ashworth (Cant) 19 Aug 1978 Australia Wellington
Gary Knight (M’watu) 11 Nov 1977 France Toulouse
Dave Loveridge (Taranaki) 11 Nov 1978 Wales Cardiff
Bernie Fraser (Wgtn) 10 Nov 1979 Scotland Edinburgh
Murray Mexted (Wgtn) 10 Nov 1979 Scotland Edinburgh
Allan Hewson (Wgtn) 13 June 1981 Scotland Dunedin
Geoff Old (M’watu) 12 Sep 1981 South Africa Auckland
Murray Pierce (Wgtn) 1 June 1985 England Christchurch
Jamie Joseph (Otago) 22 April 1992 World XV Wellington
Stephen Bachop (Otago) 3 July 1994 France Auckland

^ Province refers to the province the player was playing for at the time of their Test debut.
* Family members of those players who have passed away will collect the caps on their behalf.

Wellington has the most representatives (12) of those being capped on Friday, followed by Manawatu (6), Otago (5), Canterbury (4), Hawke’s Bay (2) and Taranaki, Wanganui and Canterbury (1 each).

Among those being capped are legendary figures of the game including four former All Blacks captains – each of whom debuted in a different decade - Bob Stuart, Kel Tremain, Chris Laidlaw and Dave Loveridge. Later a coach of both Canterbury and the All Blacks, Bob Stuart also served as an NZRU Councillor and as a New Zealand delegate to the IRB for many years. Kel Tremain served as a chairman of his beloved Hawke’s Bay Rugby Football Union and as an NZRU Councillor and is remembered to this day with his name gracing the Player of the Year Award granted annually by the NZRU at the Steinlager Rugby Awards. Chris Laidlaw and Dave Loveridge are among the great halfbacks of All Blacks history while Laidlaw had the distinction of later serving as New Zealand’s race relations conciliator.

Wellington’s contingent includes former Wellington and All Blacks captain Andy Leslie, and a group of players who played in the great All Blacks teams of the 1980s – Bernie Fraser, Murray Mexted, Allan Hewson and Murray Pierce.

Fullback Hewson is easily the top points scorer from those being capped having amassed 201 Test points, the most famous of which are probably the decisive penalty goal which won the Test and the Series for the All Blacks against the 1981 Springboks. Full back Mick Williment had 70 Test points, which included 17 conversions and 11 penalties, while winger Ron Jarden racked up 42 Test points including seven tries, and Kel Tremain had nine tries for his 27 points. Russell Watt scored only 3 Test points but had 114 points in All Blacks matches including 28 tries.

A product of Otago who went on to coach Wellington and become a national selector, Earle Kirton, will receive his cap on Friday, while two players from the 1990s – loose forward Jamie Joseph and first five-eighth Stephen Bachop, who were synonymous with Otago rugby but have since settled in Wellington, will be the last to be capped on Friday.

Meanwhile, all six Manawatu All Blacks being honoured plied their trade in the forwards ranging from the first player to be capped – number eight Jack Finlay, who debuted in 1946 against Australia and who passed away in 2001, through to 35-Test veteran prop Gary Knight and loose forward Geoffrey Old, both of whom played against the Springboks in 1981.

Guard of Honour
Eighteen of those being capped on Friday night will be at Westpac Stadium on Saturday as a guard of honour for the All Blacks and French team as they take the field for their second Iveco Series Test match. Joining those from Friday’s ceremony will be another former All Blacks captain and coach, Sir Brian Lochore, who was capped as part of the launch of the NZRU capping initiative at the 2008 Steinlager Rugby Awards.

About All Blacks Test caps
A player’s first appearance in a Test match for the All Blacks has traditionally been rewarded with a Test cap. However, along with international rugby itself, the capping tradition was interrupted by the Second World War and was not re-introduced until June 1997. In December 2008, the New Zealand Rugby Union announced it would hold a series of events in 2009 , 2010 and, if necessary, 2011, to cap more than 400 former All Blacks who did not receive their caps during that period.