New Zealand Rugby mourns the passing of Ray Bell     22 Jul 2016    

Raymond Henry Bell was born on 31 December 1925 in Dunedin. A talented outside back, Bell made his All Blacks debut in 1951 in Australia. He played nine matches for the All Blacks, including three Tests and scored 29 points.

"We sadly acknowledge the passing of Ray Bell," said New Zealand Rugby Chairman Brent Impey.
“Ray will be fondly remembered around New Zealand, and in particular by the Otago rugby community that he supported for so long. He made a significant contribution to our game as a player, selector and good Pirates man and he represented our country both in rugby and as part of J Force. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

Bell made his first class debut for Otago in 1945 as a teenager but played just one match before serving in Japan with J Force, as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. While in Japan he played services rugby and returned to the Otago side in 1949. He was a key part of the Otago side that held the Ranfurly Shield for the entire 1949 season and in 1950 helped Otago beat the British & Irish Lions side, contributing 11 points in the 23-9 win.

He was called up for his first New Zealand trial in 1950 and made the All Blacks the following year. Bell’s first match was against Australian United Services in June 1951, followed by his Test debut against the Wallabies in Brisbane a month later. The All Blacks won both matches and Bell is one of a small group of All Blacks to score a try in his first Test. In 1952 he played two further matches for the All Blacks, with a knee injury in the second Test in Wellington effectively ending his rugby career.

Following his injury, Bell remained involved with rugby through the Pirates club and served as an Otago selector in 1968-71.

Bell received his All Blacks cap in 2009, when New Zealand Rugby retrospectively presented caps to All Blacks who had made their Test debuts between 1946 and 1996.

For more information, view his profile on