Haden, who played 117 games including 41 Tests for the All Blacks between 1972 and 1985, died today surrounded by his family, after a battle with cancer.
NZR President Bill Osborne, an All Blacks teammate of Haden’s said: "Andy’s stature and influence as a player was huge. Not only was he an immense physical presence, there was also immense respect from his teammates.
“Most people will remember the way he dominated the lineout as a tower of strength, but I also remember the way he looked after the young players coming into the All Blacks, and how he advocated for players’ rights both during and after his playing career.
"Our thoughts are with his wife Trecha and his family."
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson added: “Andy was one of the most recognisable figures in New Zealand Rugby both on and off the field. His contribution as a player for Ponsonby, Auckland and the All Blacks was massive over a long period of time and he will be remembered by those who saw him play as one of the true greats of our game.”
Haden first made the All Blacks in 1972, making his debut against New York Metropolitan in New York as a 21 year old. It would take five years before he made his Test debut against the British & Irish Lions in Wellington and he was a near automatic selection for the good part of eight years including captaining the All Blacks on eight occasions.
Andrew Maxwel Haden, born September 26, 1950, Whanganui. Died July 29, 2020. Educated, Wanganui Boys’ College, Whanganui. Test matches 41, total All Blacks appearances 117, debut v New York Metropolitan, New York, October 21, 1972, final game, v Argentina, Buenos Aries, November 2, 1985. 8 Tests as captain. All Black number 716.
Haden first made the All Blacks in 1972, making his debut against New York Metropolitan in New York as a 21-year-old. It would take five years before he made his Test debut against the British & Irish Lions in Wellington and he would be a near automatic selection for the good part of eight years including captaining the All Blacks on eight occasions.
He retired in 1985 after playing more than 100 matches for his club Ponsonby, Auckland and the All Blacks, an incredible effort for a player who was listed at 1.99m tall and 112kg during his playing days.
Haden popped onto the rugby radar in early 1971 when Rugby News announced a promising young player was heading up to Auckland for the season, and that he would be joining Ponsonby. The mis-named Alistair Haddon, a big lock forward, would be a boost to the team, the story said.
Of course, Alistair Haddon never turned up but Ponsonby were to be well pleased with the man who did - Andy Haden. He would lead the charge when it came to storming the bastion of amateur rugby and his influence would have a profound effect on the careers of today's professional players as he became one of rugby’s first player agents.
While Andrew Maxwell Haden was something of a shock to administrators of his time, he was following in a long-established Ponsonby tradition. Right from the start, the club has been home to some characters who have rebelled against petty administration and pushed their claim for some kind of reward. The spiritual forebear of them all was Bob Whiteside, the 1880s star, but there have been more down the years.
All those pioneers could be cast aside, because that's how society was. If you didn't behave, you were shown the door. No argument, no comebacks. Haden, when shown the door, jammed a size 13 in it and then kicked it open again. He was simply too big to ignore.
When he first arrived at Ponsonby for pre-season training he wondered what he'd struck. The story of how his locked car was broken into and several items removed has been told often enough. So has the sequel - when he announced the burglary at the next training run, the items were just as quietly returned. Haden, ever the pragmatist, didn't bother to lock his car again.
That sort of attitude served him well over his career. There was no point building walls for the hell of it; what was needed was a wrecking crew to knock a few down. So when he started getting mucked around by the Auckland selectors shortly after winning his All Black jersey, he took himself and his new wife, Trecha, off to Europe for the next couple of seasons. He enjoyed the lifestyle, learned new languages and saw how rugby could work in the player's favour.
When he got back, in early 1976, he was a different proposition from the slightly green youth who had gone away. Now a mature and hardened lock, he should have been picked to tour South Africa but was left behind, a move seen as a punishment by some. If that's what it was, it was the All Blacks who suffered most. Peter Whiting would have given a lot to have his club partner beside him on tour.
Haden had an outstanding season in 1976, the most dominating by a tight forward for years. He led Ponsonby to the Gallaher Shield with a string of superb efforts, played just as well for Auckland, was a shoo-in for the All Black team to Argentina and won the New Zealand Player of the Year award. That was when his dominant years began.
He finally made his test debut in 1977, five years after first being picked. From then on, he was a sure selection when available. A suspension, the road-show for Boots 'n All! and the NZRFU investigation over his amateur status interrupted the sequence.
He was cunning on the field, and soon became the dominant forward in test rugby. Anyone wanting to beat the All Blacks had to stop Haden, much easier to say than to do. His lineout technique was the result of much thought and practice and it was unmatched in his day. He demanded a lot of his feeders - if they couldn't put the ball just where he wanted it, they had to go - but was a sure source of possession for his team.
His general play was of high calibre as well - it was his charging recovery of the opening kick-off in the fourth 1983 Lions test which started New Zealand's 38-6 blowout - and his scrummaging was powerful. Try as one might, and there were a few who tried, it was impossible to question his right to a test place.
In 1986 he called it a day. He stepped off the carousel when it suited him, rather than jump or be pushed. His last season saw Auckland hold the Ranfurly Shield and come second in the National Championship while Ponsonby were unbeaten winners of everything. He left at the top.
Haden's career embraced more than 300 matches, including 117 for New Zealand, the third-highest tally of all time, and more than a century for Auckland. There was another century for Ponsonby and seven Gallaher Shield triumphs, a figure equalled only by Peter Fatialofa of post-war players.
He sometimes polarised opinions, but was never repentant.
It's that spirit which induced Haden and Frank Oliver to slightly adjust the ornate cake which was to be prominent during the Welsh Centenary celebrations of 1980. The green-iced cake was marked out as a rugby field, 15 figures in black and 15 others in red took their places on the park, in lineout formation. When the officials saw the cake, two figures in black were lying on the ground - numbers two and four in the lineout. It was a humorous reminder of the concluding seconds of the 1978 test, when Haden's final-lineout dive attracted media comment seldom seen before or since. The penalty, given for obstruction on Oliver, was goaled and New Zealand won, 13-12.
Andy Haden left an enormous legacy. He was one of New Zealand's great players, and helped drive the game towards the professional status it now has.