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New Zealand rugby mourns Sir Fred 'The Needle' Allen

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allblacks.com     28 Apr 2012     Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) Chairman Mike Eagle paid tribute to Sir Fred who was New Zealand's oldest living All Black and was famously nicknamed 'The Needle'.

"Sir Fred is one of the most treasured legends in rugby. He represented a great era of successfor the All Blacks both as a player and as an unbeaten coach during his tenure.

"His unfailing dedication to rugby and his continuing contribution to the game, well after his own playing and coaching days, secures his place in our history books as one of the great legends of the game.

"Our thoughts go to Sir Fred's family and the rugby community he loved so much," Mr Eagle said.

All Blacks Coach Steven Hansen said: "This is very sad news. Sir Fred's achievements as a player and coach were legendary. In his later years he was a great guy to talk footy with and still took a keen interest in how the team was going. The thoughts of everyone in the All Blacks family go to his family at this time."

The New Zealand Super Rugby teams still to play in this weekend's Investec Super Rugby and the New Zealand Sevens team playing in Sydney tomorrow, will wear black armbands as a mark of respect.

Tonight's Round 10 Chiefs v Hurricanes match at Waikato Stadium will observe a moment's silence to remember Sir Fred.

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Sir Frederick "Fred" Richard Allen, KNZM,OBE
9 February 1920 - 28 April 2012.

Bornin Oamaru, Allen served in World War Two and at the end of the war was selected for the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force "Kiwis" Army team, which made a hugely successful tour of the United Kingdom.

An outstanding player who could play either first or second five-eighths, Allen was picked for the All Blacks in 1946 and captained the team in every one of his 21 games, including six Tests.

He retired in 1949 and turned his hand to coaching, again with remarkable success. He was Selector-Coach of Auckland from 1957-63, All Blacks Selector in 1964-65 and, now nicknamed Fred "The Needle" Allen, became All Blacks Coach from 1966 to 1968 when the team won every one of its 14 Tests.

Allen was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, received the Steinlager Salver for his outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby in 2002 and was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame last year. In 2006 he was made a life member of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

In 2008, he was the first of over 400 former All Blacks, who over the following three years, would be presented with their All Blacks Tests caps - a tradition that lapsed after the Second World War.

In 2010 he was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.