New Zealand Rugby congratulates King’s Birthday honours recipients

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Tournament Director of the Rugby World Cup 2021, played in 2022 Michelle Hooper and former All Blacks Captain and NZR President Andrew Leslie were also honoured for their contribution to sport.

Smith, who has been a significant part of the legacy of the black jersey and New Zealand Rugby’s success, will fittingly become a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) for his services to rugby.

Recognised as World Rugby’s Coach of the Year for 2022, Smith was the mastermind behind the success of the Black Ferns at Rugby World Cup 2021, played in 2022, which captured the hearts of our nation. Smith’s contribution to rugby has been phenomenal, spanning over several decades. Named as All Black #806 in 1980, he played 17 Tests between 1980 – 1985. Following his playing career, he turned to coaching. Known as “the Professor” he has had a notable coaching career, having successfully won Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders and Chiefs, alongside three Rugby World Cup titles, 2011 and 2015 as Assistant Coach of the All Blacks and last year as Director of Rugby for the Black Ferns.  In 2012 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Merit for services to rugby.

Wayne Smith becomes a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM)

NZR CEO Mark Robinson said: "On behalf of everyone involved in New Zealand rugby, I want to congratulate Wayne (Smithy) on his honour. He epitomises rugby's values and has been hugely influential as a coach. His rugby knowledge, detail, and innovative approach to the game, alongside his ability to engage players and work alongside management, is exceptional.

“He is a credit to our sport and our country. He is gives back to rugby in myriad ways and is a pillar in his local communities. Wayne has dedicated many years to the NZ Foundation for Conductive Education and is committed to sharing a service mindset within rugby as well. Both his family and Wayne can be incredibly proud of everything he has given to the game and his community.”

Black Ferns co-Captains Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon are named as Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM)

Black Ferns Co-Captains Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon were inspirational in their leadership of the World Champion Black Ferns Squad, have been named as Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to rugby.

Robinson said: “Ruahei and Kennedy’s involvement in the successful Rugby World Cup campaign was significant. While each played different roles, both complemented one another and attributed to the accomplishments of the team.

“Ruahei is a remarkable player who is recognised as a quiet leader but is fiercely determined and committed to delivering the innovative style of rugby the Black Ferns play, whilst leading the team on the field. Kennedy is an intelligent and resilient player, who has persevered to overcome injury. She has an inspirational ‘follow me’ style of leadership that complements Ruahei’s quiet approach.

"This is worthy recognition of their dual contribution to the team’s success to this point. They each are richly deserving of this acknowledgement, and one which both them and their whānau should be proud of."

Michelle Hooper, Tournament Director of the Rugby World Cup 2021, played in 2022, has been named as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to sport, in particular her role in the tournament’s success.

Michelle Hooper has been named as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM)

Robinson said: “Michelle’s delivery of the Rugby World Cup, was nothing short of exceptional. The tournament captured a nation, from poi to a sold out Eden Park to breaking global viewership. Michelle’s leadership, determination, and inspiration to supercharge women’s rugby exceeded expectations, especially as she led her team through the challenges of the pandemic delay. Her award is fitting to acknowledge the commitment she had shown to ensure the event was a brilliant success that sets the tone for future women’s sporting events.”

Former All Blacks Captain and NZR President Andrew Leslie was named as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to sport and community.

Andrew Leslie has been named as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM)

Robinson said: “Andy has given so much to our game, both on and off the field. He is well respected not just within rugby, but the wider New Zealand sport community. Today’s accolade is a further acknowledgement of his continued dedication.

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